Rancho Notorious

Fritz Lang’s 1952 vengeance western stars a confident Marlene Dietrich as a former singer and current ranch owner, and she definitely stands out among the plethora of men in her den of thieves (even though she only gets to sing once). There are a couple of excellent fist fights, a rushed bank robbery, an entirely unconvincing romance, and it’s all handled briskly enough – the story is done and dusted within 90 minutes. The screenplay sets up its characters and a second-half showdown in a rather roundabout, unconventional fashion – with flashbacks and much talk about a game called Chuck-a-Luck, which it seems is a precursor to Wheel of Fortune (who knew?!). So it’s a bit of an odd western, but it has a tough edge that works in its favour, and I’ll give it an extra half star for including a character called ‘Frenchy Fairmont’. (***½)