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Rancho Notorious

  • Directed by Fritz Lang
  • United States, 1952, 85 mins., English

Fritz Lang’s finest Hollywood western, Rancho Notorious is an oddball Technicolor fever dream, a revenge story for the ages. Vern Haskell (a brutally angry Arthur Kennedy) sets out to kill the man who raped and murdered his fiancée (Gloria Henry), eventually crossing paths with the gunslinger Frenchy Fairmont (the perpetually squinting Mel Ferrer) and outlaw-ranch-runner Altar Keane (Marlene Dietrich in a characteristically gender-bending role). To get there, however, Vern must solve “the legend of chuck-a-luck” and how its mystery relates to his blood quest. Through judicious use of the flashback (a western rarity), Lang fashions a deeply pessimistic tale of aging and artifice—the film’s core trio crucially understanding the corrosion of time and the false promise of happiness in a starkly brutal world.

Genres: Western

Other Films by Fritz Lang

You and Me

Department store owner Mr. Morris (Harry Carey) runs a tight ship, but differs from his competitors in that he hires ex-convicts looking to re-make their lives and go straight. One his employees, Joe (George Raft in a typically gangsterish performance), can’t seem to keep crime off his mind and hopes to hightail it to California.

M

Featuring a new digital restoration by the Munich Film Archive, M is one of the most influential films in the thriller genre. Fritz Lang’s first sound film is a haunting, terrifying dive into an urban underworld where the lines between good and evil are disturbingly murky. Hans Beckert—Peter Lorre in an indelible performance—is a child