Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Only now does it occur to me... RANCHO NOTORIOUS

Only now does it occur to me...  that even within the confines of a 50s studio Western, Fritz Lang still found ways to work in Expressionistic flourish.

He always loved to "suggest" murder when possible, instead of showing it outright– a murdered child's balloon floating away or an assassinated man's derby rolling on the ground, for example.  Here, we get some pretty spectacular rigor mortis that (purposefully?) recalls the theatrical poster of M.

The film also stars Weimar and Hollywood legend Marlene Dietrich, pictured here in her native habitat:

Anyway, one particular scene features a near-cabaret-ish performance (not quite so sultry as the staging in her career-making BLUE ANGEL appearances)

and the outlaws gaze lustily toward her in a rapid piece of editing that feels less like something from a 1950s studio picture, and more like the insanely brilliant "Whore of Babylon" sequence from Lang's masterpiece, METROPOLIS.

Also of note, among the lecherous, gazing outlaws are George "SUPERMAN" Reeves
(sporting a wicked scar)

 and an exceptionally young Jack "ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST" Elam, who probably played a henchmen in more Western films and TV series than any of his contemporaries, except for maybe Ward Bond.
As for the film?  It's not precisely a "classic," but it's a pretty terrific revenge picture shaded with moral ambiguity– very much in the vein of an Anthony Mann or a Budd Boetteicher flick.

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