In Wyoming , when his sweetheart is murdered , then an embittered cowboy (Arthur Kennedy who was playing a young man , he was actually three years older than Mel Ferrer) hunting enemies and on the trail of his fiancee's murderer . First with a posse, then by himself , to an outlaw hideout ranch called Chuck-a-Luck (it means a gambling game commonly played in saloons in the Southwest) . As he arrives in Rancho Notorious and the main question is the following : to guess the killer in the mansion . Then , he falls for a dance girl , Altar Keane (Marlene Dietrich who sings some songs in his usual style) , ranch owner that is a refuge for thieves and she posing as an upright rancher and horse seller . In the ranch there is a motley group of bandits (Frank Ferguson , William Frawley , Francis McDonald , Jack Elam and George Reeves with a scar on his cheek) led by Frenchy Fairmont (Mel Ferrer) who scheme to rob a bank in Clay Springs city .
This traditional Western contains drama , thrills , rousing action , frontier adventure , shootouts , and exuberant outdoors , though including matte painting images . This vintage epic Western turns out to be a throughly entertaining picture that will appeal to Western fans . It is an interesting flick in which an initial murder triggering off a tale of hatred , vengeance and a triangular love . A ¨period¨ sample'of 50s westerns , but different to common themes . Fine acting and a lot of duels , shots and killings . Medium budget Western for all those who love moody , thoughtful westerns . This is a very good Western by Fritz Lang , he made three , there's only one better than this , and that's ¨The return of Frank James¨ . Good performances for all-star-cast . Nice acting by Marlene Dietrich at her slinkiest , in fact Rancho Notorious is a must for Marlene fans . As Arthur Kennedy as a ranch hand called Vern Haskell who pursues the killers his girlfriend, following the trail to an outlaw's roost . Kennedy holds his twisted expression to great effect as the relentless cowboy hunting a hidden killer . Acceptable Mel Ferrer as Frenchy Fairmont , an outlaw really enamored to Altar and who defends his love .
The film displays a brilliant cinematography in rich Technicolor by expert cameraman Hal Mohr who had previously photographed Marlene Dietrich in Arizona (1939) . In addition , attractive and evocative musical score by Ken Darby , Emil Newman and uncredited Hugo Friedhofer and Arthur Lange ; including some catching western songs . The motion picture produced by Howard Welsch and RKO was tight as well as seethingly directed by Fritz Lang with great enthusiasm and in his particular style . This was Lang's third Western , following his favorite ¨The return of Frank James¨ with Henry Fonda and ¨Western Union¨ , a Darryl F Zanuck's 20th Century Fox production about construction of the glamorous ¨Western Union¨ route from Omaha , Nebraska , to Salt Lake City , Utah with Robert Young and Dean Jagger . The German Fritz showed himself a master of the most American of genres . As Lang directed masterfully all kind of genres as Noir cinema as ¨Big heat¨ , ¨Scarlet Street¨ and ¨Beyond a reasonable doubt¨ , Epic as ¨Nibelungs¨, suspense as ¨Secret beyond the door¨ , ¨Clash by night¨ and Lang's trilogy about Nazi time as ¨Cloak and dagger¨, ¨Man hunt¨ and ¨Hangmen also die¨, and of course , Sci-Fi with the classic ¨Metropolis¨. Rating Rancho Notorious : Better than average . Well worth watching .