skip navigation
Rancho Notorious

Rancho Notorious(1952)

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here

Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (0)

DVDs from TCM Shop

Rancho Notorious A cowboy infiltrates a bandit... MORE > $15.96 Regularly $19.99 Buy Now


powered by AFI

DVDs from TCM Shop

Rancho Notorious A cowboy infiltrates a bandit... MORE > $15.96
Regularly $19.99
buy now

Moments after her fiancé, cowboy Vern Haskell, presents her with a jewel-studded brooch and rides out of town, Beth Forbes is raped and killed in her father's general store by an outlaw named Kinch, who also steals the brooch. Upon seeing his slain sweetheart, Vern seethes with outrage and joins the sheriff's posse. Although the posse stops pursuing Kinch and his cohort, Whitey, when it reaches the boundary of its jurisdiction, Vern, bent on revenge, pushes on alone. Not wanting to share his loot, Kinch, meanwhile, shoots Whitey, then leaves him for dead. Soon after, Vern finds Whitey and demands to know where Kinch has gone, but Whitey can only mutter the word "chuck-a-luck" before expiring. Sure that chuck-a-luck, a casino game, is the key to finding Kinch, Vern queries a barber about it. The man in the next chair overhears Vern and, once alone with him, nervously asks why he wants to know about chuck-a-luck. When Vern refuses to say, the man jumps him, and a vicious fight ensues, ending in the man's death. Vern is arrested, but is released after the sheriff learns that the man, Ace Maguire, was a wanted outlaw. Free but still clueless, Vern then undertakes to discover the whereabouts of Altar Keane, a name mentioned by Ace during the fight. His inquiries eventually lead him to Baldy Gunder, a former saloon owner for whom Altar once worked. The down-and-out Baldy tells Vern about his last encounter with Altar, a former belle of the West: After Baldy fires her for not smiling enough, Altar decides to gamble her last pay on chuck-a-luck. Because the croupier thinks she is shilling, Altar wins big on two tries. Baldy intercedes, but to keep his crooked operation from being exposed, allows her one last bet. At that moment, handsome gunslinger Frenchy Fairmont steps in and insists on spinning the chuck-a-luck wheel himself. Frenchy also manipulates the wheel, and Altar wins a huge sum. Frenchy then persuades Altar to run away with him. Back in the present, Baldy reveals that, while Altar's whereabouts are unknown, Frenchy is now in the Gunsight jail. To meet Frenchy, Vern gets himself arrested on election day and, when Gunsight's crooked sheriff frees some corrupt, incarcerated politicians, Vern takes advantage of the commotion and helps Frenchy to escape. Grateful, Frenchy takes Vern to a secluded horse ranch near the Mexican border, which is run by Altar. After a wary Altar explains to Vern the ranch's "no questions" rule, she introduces him to a group of outlaws who use the ranch, called Chuck-a-Luck, as a hideout. Vern is immediately suspicious of outlaw Wilson, as he is an unabashed ladies man and has a scar down his cheek. Kinch, in turn, has uneasy feelings about the curious newcomer. On the night of her birthday, Altar startles Vern when she appears in a fancy gown, adorned with Beth's brooch. Before Vern can act on his discovery, Marshal Donaldson and Deputy Warren arrive at the ranch, looking for Frenchy. The outlaws manage to hide, and Vern cleverly deflects the lawmen's suspicions. Vern then flirts with Altar, who has since removed her jewels, and kisses her. Later, after Vern shows off the shooting skills he learned from Frenchy, Frenchy informs Altar that he is planning a bank robbery. Altar begs Frenchy not to involve Vern, who she senses is not a hardened criminal, but Frenchy is noncommittal. Kinch then realizes who Vern is when he sees him get on his horse using the same unusual mounting technique he observed outside Beth's general store. Kinch resolves to kill Vern and volunteers to act as a sniper during the robbery. Kinch then convinces Frenchy to bring the unsuspecting Vern along and shoots at him as he is exiting the bank. The shot misses Vern, but a gunfight erupts, and the surviving outlaws are forced to scatter. Later, Vern returns alone to Chuck-a-Luck with Altar's share, and she finally gives in to her attraction. At Vern's urging, Altar dons her gown and jewels and reveals that Kinch sold her the brooch. Enraged, Vern tells her about Beth's murder and rips the brooch off her dress. Vern then finds Kinch at a border cantina and challenges him to a gunfight. Outmatched, Kinch refuses to draw, but before Vern forces the issue, the sheriff shows up. After the bartender confirms that Kinch admitted to Beth's murder, the sheriff arrests Kinch. Meanwhile, a wounded Frenchy arrives at Chuck-a-Luck to find Altar packed and ready to depart. Altar turns the ranch over to Frenchy without explanation, but denies that she is running away with Vern. Just then, Wilson and the other outlaws ride up with Kinch, having freed him from the sheriff, and demand money from Altar for betraying their trust with Vern. A tense showdown ensues, until Vern appears, taking them all by surprise. In a flash, Frenchy kills Kinch, while Vern's quick draw fells Wilson. The remaining outlaws surrender, but after Frenchy orders them to leave, he and Vern discover that Altar took a bullet meant for Frenchy. Altar dies in Frenchy's arms, and now alone, Frenchy rides off with Vern.