The Legend of the Lone Ranger
directed by William A. Fraker
(MCA/Universal, 1981)

It is not possible for me to find words that sufficiently express my emotions when it comes to the 1981 version of The Legend of the Lone Ranger. For those of us that grew up with Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels as role models, this movie was a slap in the face. No. It brought out the brass knuckles and battered us to pulp!

This is the video version of "Can you spot the differences in these pictures?" First, we are all left wondering if Silver has two brown eyes, two blue eyes or one of each. Is he a long-backed, slender horse or short-backed and stocky? What about that miracle saddle? I want one like it. When the horse starts bucking, the horn disappears and a fully rigged Western saddle becomes a standard rodeo bronc saddle. Imagine the stomachaches that would be prevented with a saddle like that! Then, there is the perpetually changing neck bandana. Is it tied on the side or front?

This movie has an excellent storyline and could have been one of the best movies ever made. The timing was right for a remake of the classic. But the first problem was that politics got in the way. Native Americans were taking a strong foothold in the civil/human rights arena. They have long protested the way Tonto was portrayed in the series and movies of the 1930s through the '50s. When this movie was announced there was a backlash from the Native American community about the role of Tonto, so Tonto was transformed from a hero of few words to a political activist that delivers lines like my deaf cousin -- rather bumbling. The only thing I can say about Michael Horse in the role of Tonto is that he had nice hair. I wonder if I could locate that wig.

Klinton Spilsbury trashed the Lone Ranger. This actor was cast into the part even though everyone agreed that he did not have the voice for it. Folks, here is a news flash: he does not have the body for it, the skill on horseback or the skill with weapons. So, why was he cast? The voice-overs were horrid. They would have been as well off to allow Spilsbury to do the lines. The hero that had been so skillfully crafted by Clayton Moore died a terrible death with many faithful fans during this movie.

Normally I can find something good about any movie, but this one completely escapes me. The action is ruined by all the obvious visual errors or special effects blunders. It spends quite a bit of time and energy on a romance that is never resolved; they should not have started something they were not willing to finish. It was historically incorrect. It was culturally incorrect. I suppose I can only say that it attempted to make a political statement. Too bad it had to ruin a half-century of wonderful heroism and role modeling!

Do not waste your money or time on this crappy movie. Instead, get the 1952 version of The Legend of the Lone Ranger or 1949's The Lone Ranger. If you feel like donating time to a worthwhile cause, contact the networks and demand that they stop showing this movie on late-night programming because it ruins this reviewer's sunny disposition.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 28 June 2003

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