Rancho Notorious (1952)

Approved   |    |  Western

Rancho Notorious (1952) Poster

After the murder of his fiancée, a Wyoming ranch hand sets out to find her killer.

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  • Marlene Dietrich in Rancho Notorious (1952)
  • John Kellogg and Arthur Kennedy in Rancho Notorious (1952)
  • Marlene Dietrich and Arthur Kennedy in Rancho Notorious (1952)
  • Marlene Dietrich in Rancho Notorious (1952)
  • Marlene Dietrich in Rancho Notorious (1952)
  • Marlene Dietrich in Rancho Notorious (1952)

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13 April 2016 | MartinHafer
| About as sexy and smoldering as your grandmother...
When the film begins, Vern Haskell (Arthur Kennedy) is shown with his fiancé. However, shortly after Vern leaves her store, a thug wanders in to rob the place and then assaults and murders her as well. Vern makes it his life work to track down the killer and punish him, but he has very few clues. Through much of the film, he's on the trail and eventually finds his way to a wanted man, Frenchy Fairmont (Mel Ferrer). He arranges to break Frenchy out of jail...and pretends to be a bad guy in the hope that Frenchy takes him to the rest of the gang and the murderer. Once with the gang, however, like EVERYONE in this film he inexplicably falls for the charms of Altar Keane (Marlene Dietrich)--a woman who runs sort of a hostel for crooks called 'Chuck-A-Luck'. Vern's problem now is what to do...keep on his path of revenge or settle down with Altar and her feminine wiles.

While I know a lot of folks love this film, for me it was problematic to watch due to the casting. Like Joan Crawford in "Johnny Guitar", the leading lady (Dietrich) was just too old and unattractive to be portraying such a vivacious and sexy character. Some women are still gorgeous at 51, but, sadly, Dietrich here is just kind of sad playing a sexy siren. This is a severe knock against the film as is the annoying song "Chuck-A-Luck", though otherwise it is well acted, written and directed (by Fritz Lang of all people). Enjoyable but seriously flawed.

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