Rancho Notorious: Fritz Lang’s Technicolor Western, Starring Marlene Dietrich

Fritz Lang directed Rancho Notorious, a Technicolor revenge Western, starring Marlene Dietrich as the matron of a criminal hideout called Chuck-a-Luck.

Howard Hughes, then head of RKO Pictures, change the original working title, “The Legend of Chuck-a-Luck.”

Wyoming ranch hand Vern Haskell is enraged when his fiancee Beth Forbes is abused and murdered during a robbery. He sets out after the two thieves, first with a posse, then by himself.  He finds one, Whitey, shot in the back by his partner after a quarrel.  Whitey’s dying words, “Chuck-a-luck,” offer the clue to the second man’s identity.

Vern finally finds a man who reveals that Altar Keane is connected with Chuck-a-luck. When the man realizes that Vern is just fishing for information, Vern is forced to kill him in self-defense. Vern is taken into custody, then released when the dead man is identified as a wanted outlaw.

Vern learns that after Altar quit working for saloon owner Baldy Gunder, she bet her last $20 on his rigged chuck-a-luck game and won a lot of money, with gunslinger Frenchy Fairmont stepping in to help her.

In the town of Gunsight, Vern learns that Frenchy is in jail, so he deliberately gets himself arrested.  After they break out, Frenchy takes Vern to the Chuck-a-Luck, a horse ranch near the Mexican border owned by Altar. The ranch is a hideout available to any outlaw who is willing to pay percentage of his ill-gotten gains.

Vern, noticing that Altar is wearing a brooch that he gave to Beth, sets out to find out who gave it to her, which makes Frenchy very jealous.

Vern goes along on a bank robbery, and when he takes Altar her share, she informs him that Kinch gave her the jewelry. Vern reveals his true purpose and his disdain for Altar’s profession. Altar is shamed, and decides to give it all up. However, before she leaves, a gunfight breaks out between Vern and Frenchy. Altar is killed protecting Frenchy, and Kinch also dies, which ends Vern’s quest.