Rancho Notorious (1952) Marlene Dietrich, Arthur Kennedy, Mel Ferrer, Gloria Henry Movie Review

Rancho Notorious (1952)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Mel Ferrer and Arthur Kennedy in Rancho Notorious (1952)

Not a Lot-a-Luck

Nice guy Vern Haskell (Arthur Kennedy) is out herding cattle when he gets the news, a man entered the store where his fiancee worked and not only raped her but killed her, sparing her nothing. Filled with hate and a need for revenge Vern makes his way to Chuck-a-luck, a town where outlaws head and are given protection by Altar Keane (Marlene Dietrich) and her right hand man Frenchy (Mel Ferrer). Keeping his true identity and intentions to himself Vern gets hired as a ranch hand but in order to keep up his masquerade not only has to take part in criminal activities but also finding himself involved with Altar.

Everyone who loves movies has a star or two who they have a blinkered opinion of and unfortunately Marlene Dietrich is not one of mine. Not that I think she was a bad actress but a movie is not great because she appeared in it or was saved because of her. As such whilst many are impressed by Fritz Lang's colourful "Rancho Notorious", often going out of their way to praise Dietrich I was not so impressed. In fact a part of "Rancho Notorious", the ballad singing which crops up every now and then, really gets on my nerves although that may be down to the use of Chuck-a-luck as a name for a town.

Marlene Dietrich in Rancho Notorious (1952)

Anyway as for "Rancho Notorious" well the storyline is nothing special with a good man desperate for revenge finding himself having to step over the line to get his revenge by associating with criminals. Yes it tries to embellish things from giving us some flashback scenes as to Altar's background and how she ended up with Frenchy but maybe in my jaded western watching eyes these scenes only padded out a familiar story. It is the same with how Vern gets himself with Frenchy, escaping from jail to together.

In truth I will tell you what is memorable about "Rancho Notorious" and that is simply Fritz Lang's choice of colouring as it what makes the movie stand out. There is a real warmth to the tones he uses and it helps bring out the visual depth especially when he borders the image with shadows to create even more depth.

What this all boils down to is that whilst entertaining "Rancho Notorious" didn't blow me away although it does have a beautiful look thanks to Lang's colouring choices which make it visually rich.