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.
"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.
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.
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.
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'
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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