The Legend of the Lone Ranger

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The Legend of the Lone Ranger
The Legend of the Lone Ranger.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by William A. Fraker
Produced by Walter Coblenz
Written by Ivan Goff
Michael Kane
Ben Roberts
William Roberts
Gerald B. Derloshon (as Jerry Derloshon)
Starring Klinton Spilsbury
Michael Horse
Christopher Lloyd
Matt Clark
Juanin Clay
Jason Robards
John Bennett Perry
Music by John Barry
Cinematography László Kovács
Edited by Thomas Stanford
Production
  company
ITC Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s)
  • May 22, 1981 (1981-05-22)
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States[1]
Language English
Budget $18,000,000
Box office $12,617,845

The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a 1981 American western film directed by William A. Fraker and starring Klinton Spilsbury, Michael Horse and Christopher Lloyd.

It is based on the story of The Lone Ranger, a Western character created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker. Its producers outraged fans by not allowing actor Clayton Moore to wear the character's mask when making public appearances, and created a further bad buzz when the dialogue of leading man Klinton Spilsbury was dubbed by another actor.[2] The film was a huge commercial failure, and Spilsbury has not appeared in any film since.

Plot[edit]

The outlaw Butch Cavendish (Christopher Lloyd) ambushes a party of Texas Rangers, killing all except John Reid (Klinton Spilsbury) who is rescued by his old childhood Comanche friend, Tonto (Michael Horse). When he recovers from his wounds, he dedicates his life to fighting the crime that Cavendish represents. To this end, John becomes the great masked western hero, The Lone Ranger. With the help of Tonto, the pair go to rescue President Grant (Jason Robards) when Cavendish takes him hostage.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Many attempts had been made to create a Lone Ranger movie that would appeal to a modern audience, including making Tonto an equal partner and mentor to the Lone Ranger. In the movie, Tonto teaches the hero how to shoot and is mainly responsible for training Silver, the hero's horse. Moreover, Tonto speaks whole sentences, while in the radio and TV series he had quite a limited vocabulary. In another change to established canon, Reid is (at first) not an actual Texas Ranger but a civilian observer (and younger brother of the Rangers' captain) who survives Cavendish's massacre.

This film was shot in New Mexico, Utah, and California. Two of the movie's four screenwriters, Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, previously created the hit TV series Charlie's Angels; they also worked together on another hit series, Mannix. According to Larry McMurtry, novelist George MacDonald Fraser had written an excellent script for the film[5] though he is not credited in the finished film.

The movie's ballad-narration, The Man In The Mask, was performed by country music legend Merle Haggard, and composed by the legendary John Barry with lyrics by Dean Pitchford of Footloose and Sing fame.

Klinton Spilsbury's dialogue was overdubbed for the entire movie by actor James Keach.[6]

Clayton Moore lawsuit[edit]

In 1978 Jack Wrather and Bonita Granville gained the legal rights to the Lone Ranger character and were planning a feature film with a younger actor. In 1979, Wrather obtained an injunction to stop Clayton Moore from appearing as the character at county fairs, much to fans' displeasure.[7] Wrather anticipated making a new film version of the story, and did not want the value of the character being undercut by Moore's appearances. Also, Wrather did not want to encourage the belief that the 65-year-old Moore would be playing the role in the new picture. This move proved to be a public relations disaster.[citation needed] Moore responded by changing his costume slightly and replacing the mask with similar-looking wraparound sunglasses, and by counter-suing Wrather.[8] He eventually won the suit and was able to resume his appearances in costume, which he continued to do until shortly before his death in 1999.

Reception[edit]

Box Office[edit]

The film was released to massive negative publicity fueled by the above controversy in 1981, and did poorly, grossing a mere $12 million against its $18 million budget.[9] Lew Grade who invested in the movie had managed to sell it to TV for $7.5 million, and also to HBO.[10]

Critical[edit]

The film received generally mediocre reviews:[11] Time Out London said "The mystery is how Fraker, a gifted cameraman who made a superb directing debut in Westerns with Monte Walsh, could produce such a clinker as this.",[12] while TV Guide proclaimed "This film is so inept it's almost camp.".[13]

Lew Grade later wrote he thought the problem was the movie took an hour and ten minutes for the Ranger to put on his mask. "The mistake was not dispensing with the legend in ten minutes and getting on with the action much earlier on," he said.[10]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film was nominated for, and won, several Golden Raspberry Awards:

Merchandise[edit]

A novelization of the movie was released in 1981, written by Gary McCarthy and published by Ballantine Books (ISBN 0345294386).[15]

A line of action figures created by the toy company Gabriel in 1982 which included Buffalo Bill Cody, Butch Cavendish, George Custer, The Lone Ranger, and Tonto. Also released by Gabriel were the horses Silver (The Lone Ranger's Horse), Scout (Tonto's Horse), and Smoke (Butch's Horse).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Legend of the Lone Ranger". British Film Institute. London. 
  2. ^ Labrecque, Jeff (2 July 2013). "Who was that masked man? The Legend of Klinton Spilsbury.". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Noriyuki, Duane (2003-11-07). "Art away from Hollywood is where his heart is". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  4. ^ "THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER DVD Review". Collider. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  5. ^ McMurtry, Larry (2010). Hollywood: A Third Memoir. Simon & Schuster. pp. 60–61. 
  6. ^ "The Legend of the Lone Ranger". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  7. ^ Stassel, Stephanie (1999-12-29). "Clayton Moore, TV's 'Lone Ranger,' Dies". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  8. ^ "Clayton Moore Back In Mask". Chicago Tribune. 1985-01-30. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  9. ^ Goldstein, Richard (1999-12-29). "Clayton Moore, Television's Lone Ranger And a Persistent Masked Man, Dies at 85". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  10. ^ a b Lew Grade, Still Dancing: My Story, William Collins & Sons 1987 p 259
  11. ^ "The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  12. ^ "The Legend of the Lone Ranger | review, synopsis, book tickets, showtimes, movie release date | Time Out London". Timeout.com. 2012-11-26. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  13. ^ "The Legend Of The Lone Ranger Review". Movies.tvguide.com. 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  14. ^ a b "Who was that masked man? The Legend of Klinton Spilsbury - CNN.com". Edition.cnn.com. 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  15. ^ "Legend of the Lone Ranger by Gary McCarthy". Fantasticfiction.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 

External links[edit]