Rancho Notorious (1952) - Rotten Tomatoes

Rancho Notorious1952

Rancho Notorious (1952)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Rancho Notorious Photos

Movie Info

The original title for Rancho Notorious was Chuck-a-Luck, which is also the title of the soundtrack ballad (written by Ken Darby) which unifies the plotline, à la High Noon. Frontiersman Vern Haskell (Arthur Kennedy) wanders throughout the West in search of the man who robbed and murdered his fiancée. He is told that he'll probably find the culprits at Chuck-a-Luck, a combination horse ranch and criminal hideout overseen by saloon chanteuse Altar Keane (Marlene Dietrich). To gain entrance to Chuck-a-Luck, Haskell poses as an escaped prisoner. Keane warns him that the ranch has only one rule: "Don't ask questions." Still, he has ways of finding things out. Haskell is compelled to keep up his charade when the dirty denizens of Chuck-a-Luck plan a big bank holdup, but this has the result of exposing the killer of his girl. Director Fritz Lang had a rough time with RKO head Howard R. Hughes, who insisted upon making changes in the film that might have hurt it irreparably. The biggest argument centered over the title; Hughes complained that no one overseas would understand the meaning of Chuck-a-Luck, whereupon Lang riposted sarcastically that "I'm sure that everyone will understand Rancho Notorious." One of the principal villains was Lloyd Gough, but you'd never know it from the opening titles; Hughes, incensed that Gough had refused to testify at the HUAC "witch hunt," ordered that the blacklisted Gough's name be removed from the credits.


Marlene Dietrich
as Altar Keane
Mel Ferrer
as Frenchy Fairmont
Arthur Kennedy
as Vern Haskell
William Frawley
as Baldy Gunder
Jack Elam
as Geary
John Raven
as Chuck-a-Luck Dealer
Dan Seymour
as Comanche Paul
Joe Dominguez
as Gonzales
I. Stanford Jolley
as Deputy Warren
as Mexican girl in bar
Ralph Sanford
as Politician
Lane Chandler
as Sheriff Hardy
Fred Graham
as Ace Maguire
Dick Elliott
as Storyteller
William Haade
as Sheriff Bullock
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Critic Reviews for Rancho Notorious

All Critics (10)

...pure Fritz Lang through and through.

December 27, 2018 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…

Rancho Notorious is strange. Peculiar. Outrageous. Utterly distinctive.

October 22, 2011 | Full Review…

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

August 8, 2009 | Full Review…

Because the small budget kept Lang sequestered on the studio lot, he found a way to use the sets for their claustrophobic, caged feel.

May 26, 2006 | Full Review…

Remarkable Western with a wild mix of themes and styles

August 13, 2005 | Full Review…

Cool, way ahead of its day western with Dietrich and her band of baddies.

October 16, 2004 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for Rancho Notorious


Good western with a most unexpected leading lady. Predating Johnny Guitar by two years this film echoes that with its female lead being the ringleader of a tough mob but doesn't have that movies atmosphere or strong female counterpart. What it does have is Marlene holding center stage as only she could and a pair of capable costars in Mel Ferrer and the always terrific Arthur Kennedy..

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer


it's not a bad film but it's not as much fun as destry rides again or the very similarly themed johnny guitar. also that 'chuck-a-luck' song got really annoying. i like arthur kennedy alright but he's a bit blah here and at 51 marlene is pushing it. i guess i just expected more from lang. obviously westerns weren't his strong suit

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Rancho Notorious Quotes

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