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Rancho Notorious [DVD] [1952]

Marlene Dietrich , Arthur Kennedy , Fritz Lang    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Marlene Dietrich, Arthur Kennedy, Mel Ferrer, Gloria Henry, William Frawley
  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Producers: Howard Welsch
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Optimum Home Releasing
  • DVD Release Date: 4 July 2005
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009PGTBU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,518 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Vern Haskell's (Arthur Kennedy) life is shattered when his fiancé Beth is raped and murdered by a ruthless gunman. Without knowing the exact identity of the killer he tracks him down to Chuck-a-Luck, a sanctuary for outlaws run by saloon singer Altar Keane (Marlene Dietrich) and her lover Frenchy (Mel Ferrer). Masquerading as a bandit on the run, Vern attempts to uncover his girlfriend's killer, a task which can only be achieved by seducing information out of Altar. Director Fritz Lang adds an expressionistic touch to this unusually dark Western.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best westerns ever made! 18 Feb 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
A strangely humorous film, although I can't say if that was Lang's intention. In this film Marlene Dietrich (Altar Keane)is playing her classic feme fetal role. Also, with a name like Altar Keane I don't know if it was intentional on the part of Fritz Lang to give her a name that has a hidden meaning, for example an altar is a place were you take sacrifices, this is precisely what Altar Keane expected from her outlaws. These men, if they expected to hide out at Rancho Notorious had to give up 10% of their loot. Madness, vengence and obsession unhinge the narrative but also drive it forward, its as if the story is the double of an interior state of mindand the creation of an obsession. The film tells a story of a legend, a legend already written, the characters are caught in a fate determined in advance by a legend that is the story of their fate, of the unavoidable turns of the wheel of fortune, the 'chuck-a-luck' of the opening ballad.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hate, Murder, Revenge. Oh no, Not Again! 20 Mar 2011

Mostly studio bound due to a restricted Howard Hughes budget. On set arguments between director Fritz Lang and star Marlene Dietrich, who wanted to retain the eternal elixir of youth through lighting. Saddled with one of the most awful central motif ballads of any film, which reminds you constantly that this is a story about 'hate, murder and revenge'. Starring a lead actor in Mel Ferrer who had never made a western in his life, and never would again. This film, which is not the most uplifting ever made, is one that sounds like it was deliberately made to crash and burn in "The Producers" tradition. Instead it takes it's place in the hall of great westerns. Prior to this Lang had made "The Return of Frank James" and "Western Union" back to back in 1940. The first was no doubt studio driven after the great success of Henry King's "Jesse James" the year before, whilst "Western Union" is a rather bland epic. Both those films feature outlaws who want to go straight, whilst this film features a hero who goes outlaw in his quest for revenge. Neither film indicates that Lang had the more expressionistic "Rancho Notorious" in him.

The story concerns Arthur Kennedy as cowboy Vern Haskell whose fiancee is killed in a robbery. Lang makes it very clear what else happened to her during the robbery. Violence was not a subject he shied away from, most notably when Lee Marvin throws scalding water in the face of Gloria Graham in the noir classic "The Big Heat". Haskell changes from happy go lucky cowboy into a sort of Captain Ahab consumed with revenge and searching the western ocean in pursuit of his own white whale. The killer goes to ground at the outlaw hideout Chuck-a-Luck, presided over by the wonderfully named Altar Keane played by Dietrich.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER
The third and last Western by Fritz Lang, Rancho Notorious is a weird, distinctive, film-noir infused Oater containing familiar Fritz Lang themes. Adapted by Daniel Taradash from an original story by Silvia Richards, the story follows Arthur Kennedy's frontiersman Vern Haskell as he trawls the West in search of the culprit responsible for the rape and murder of his fiancée. He winds up at a place known as Chuck-a-Luck, a ranch and front for a criminal hideout that is run by smouldering chanteuse Altar Keane {Marlene Dietrich}. Posing as a criminal himself, Haskell hooks up with gunslinger Frenchy Fairmont {Mel Ferrer} and infiltrates the unsavoury mob behind the scenes of the Chuck-a-Luck. But problems arise as both Haskell and Frenchy vie for the attentions of Altar and slowly but surely, as Haskell gets closer to his target, it's evident that he is so torn and twisted by revenge he's become as bad as the villains he now aims to bring down.

Reference Fritz Lang, love, betrayal and retribution, cloak them in a decidedly feminist sheen and what you get is Rancho Notorious. That the film is an oddity is something of an understatement, yet it works in a very unique sort of way. The film opens with one of the most god awful title songs used in Westerns, "Legend of Chuck-A-Luck" song by Bill Lee, from then the tune is used at points of reference in the narrative. It seems like a joke song, hell it sounds like a joke song, but within the first quarter of the film a pretty young lady is raped and murdered, Haskell is informed that she "wasn't spared anything," this is completely at odds with the tone that had been set at that time.
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Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The Dietrich character is very similar to her role of Frenchy in "Destry Rides Again" (1939) Both roles have her sacrificing herself for the hero, in this case Arthur Kennedy. I would have given this movie 5 stars but that awful theme tune is to annoying to give it the full award.

The direction by Fritz Lang is excellent, far better than either "The Return Of Frank James" (1940) or "Western Union". (1941)his other western outings. Without doubt the film is well worth the price of the DVD, and a worthy addition to my feature film collection.
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