Rancho Notorious

In his third and final Western, Fritz Lang unsaddles the genre to create a tempestuous cult favorite. Critics have likened the film and its theme of a man twisted by vengeance to a Lang film of a wholly different genre: film noir's The Big Heat.
Rancho Notorious
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Format:  DVD-R
item number:  WAC 621333D
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DVD Features:

  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Run Time: 1 hours, 29 minutes
  • Video: Color
  • Released: October 20, 2009
  • Originally Released: 1952
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection (MOD)
  • Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
  • Aspect Ratio: Full Frame
  • Audio:
    • English

Performers, Cast and Crew:

Starring , , , &
Performer: , , &
Directed by
Edited by
Screenwriting by
Composition by
Produced by
Director of Photography:

Memorable Quotes and Dialog:

"Now where and what is Chuck-a-Luck. Nobody knows and the dead won't tell. So on and on relentlessly this man pursues his quest. And deep within him grows the beast of hate. Murder and revenge."
  - Opening lyrics of theme song Chuck-A-Luck.
"Now revenge is a bitter and evil fruit. And death hangs beside it on the bough. These men that lived by the code of hate. Have noting to live for now. And the legends tell that when custer fell. They died with him in the fight."
  - Closing lyrics of theme song Chuck-a-Luck.

Entertainment Reviews:


Total Count: 10


User Ratings: 1,005
Remarkable Western with a wild mix of themes and styles Full Review
Classic Film and Television
Aug 13, 2005
Rating: A- -- It's Lang's last Western and one that covers again the themes he successfully used in his noir films... Full Review
Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Jan 1, 2000
Rating: 7/10 -- ...pure Fritz Lang through and through. Full Review
The Retro Set
Dec 27, 2018
There is a distinct hokeyness about Lang's vision of the West--pancake-flat sets in a generic studio-backlot Western town; giant, abstract crab-colored boulders made out of papier-mache, brazenly unnaturalistic stage-lighting--but it's the ardent phoneyne Full Review
Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Aug 8, 2009
Rancho Notorious is strange. Peculiar. Outrageous. Utterly distinctive. Full Review
Parallax View
Oct 22, 2011
Because the small budget kept Lang sequestered on the studio lot, he found a way to use the sets for their claustrophobic, caged feel. Full Review
Combustible Celluloid
May 26, 2006
Rating: 4/5 -- Cool, way ahead of its day western with Dietrich and her band of baddies.
Kansas City Kansan
Oct 17, 2004

Description by OLDIES.com:

Bandits, gunslingers - they know they can find refuge at the remote outpost of the lawless called Chuck-a-Luck. There, in exchange for a 10% cut of any loot, former barroom belle Altar Keane (Marlene Dietrich) serves as den mother to a Wild West den of thieves. Among the newcomers at the rancho: Vern Haskell (Arthur Kennedy), who poses as an outlaw in hopes of smoking out the desperado who killed his fiancee.

In his third and final Western, Fritz Lang unsaddles the genre to create a tempestuous cult favorite swapping expansive exteriors for roiling psychological interiors. Critics have likened the film and its theme of a man twisted by vengeance to a Lang film of a wholly different genre: film noir's The Big Heat.

Product Description:

In what is perhaps Fritz Lang's most personal and psychological western, RANCHO NOTORIOUS suffuses the bleak sensibility and textbook psychology of his earlier Film Noir work with a romantic and somewhat sentimental vision of the old west.

In 1870s Wyoming, the fiancée of a cowboy named Vern is savagely raped and murdered. Enraged, Vern sets out to find her killer. His search eventually leads him to a ranch called Chuck-a-Luck which serves as a hideaway for outlaws. But when he meets the ranch's alluring owner, aging saloon queen Altar Keane (Marlene Dietrich), and begins to fall in love with her, his search is thrown off course. The movie's theme song leads the narrative inexorably along in Vern's suspenseful quest to unearth and trap the unknown killer, but his newfound allegiance to Altar confuses his intentions. Posing as an escaped criminal himself, Vern finally comes face to face with his target in the wake of a botched bank robbery, and the violence that began his quest comes full circle. Looking for guidance and salvation, Vern decides to tell Altar everything, but the residents of Chuck-a-Luck would prefer that Altar sided with them, leading to a cycle of death, murder, and revenge.

Plot Synopsis:

In Wyoming during the 1870s, a cowboy sets out to find the man that killed his wife-to-be. His search eventually leads him to a bar, where he begins to fall for another woman. Will this cause the gunslinger to forget his first love before he's revenged her death'


Production Notes:

  • Theatrical Release: February 1952.
  • RANCHO NOTORIOUS was filmed in Hollywood, California.
  • Fritz Lang wanted to title this film CHUCK-A-LUCK after the theme song, but RKO head Howard Hughes pushed for the final version of the title, RANCHO NOTORIOUS.
  • RANCHO NOTORIOUS was the only one of Fritz Lang's three westerns that he developed from start to finish and the only one of his Hollywood films besides HANGMEN ALSO DIE that he both conceived and executed.
  • Fritz Lang called RANCHO NOTORIOUS, "a western for adults."
  • Chuck-a-luck refers to a saloon roulette game.
  • In her 1987 autobiography MARLENE, Marlene Dietrich stated, "Fritz Lang was the director I detested most."
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Studio Vaults
Warner Archive Collection

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Product Info

  • Sales Rank: 6,456
  • UPC: 883316213339
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