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· HTS Moderator , Reviewer
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

Title: Legend of the Lone Ranger

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :2.5stars:
Audio: :3.5stars:
Extras: :halfstar:

HTS Overall Score:60

The Lone Ranger is probably what I would call Batman before Batman was invented. A solitary masked hero, with a sidekick, runs around the old west and cleans up the corruption and filth that plagued the frontier towns. He’s rich as can be (owns his own silver mine and basically shoots money at people) and while not as brooding as the caped crusader, shares the tragedy of family being killed in front of his very eyes. When most people think of The Lone Ranger, their memories immediately shift over to Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels’ classic portrayal of the masked outlaw in the movie and subsequent TV show back in the late 40’s, early 50s. A year and a half ago we got that abominable remakes starring a moronic John Reid and Captain Jack Tonto in a stomach churning 2.5 hour debacle. However, in between the classic TV show and the horrible remake, we had a much lesser known remake starring Arizona football legend, Klinton Spilsbury and Native American, Michael Horse as Tonto. It’s a bit cheesy, and definitely a product of the 80’s, but it’s still goofy fun and loads better than the 2013 Disney attempt.

The basic mechanics of the Lone Ranger are pretty much the same here. His family is killed as a child and John Reid (Klinton Spilsbury) is sent back east to live with his Aunt Margaret. 10 years later John is a fancy dude lawyer and he’s back to Texas to make a difference. His older brother Dan (John Bennett Perry) would rather his brother be back East where it’s safe, but nothing is going to stop John from doing what is right (as well as mooning over the lovely Amy Striker (Juanin Clay). After the outlaw, Butch Cavendish (Christopher Lloyd), wreaks havoc upon their small town, the Texas rangers have to go out in search of the outlaw. Deputizing his younger brother, Dan allows John to tag along in the search. As we all know, that goes seriously wrong, as the rangers are setup and massacred in a valley pass, leaving only John alive, but barely. Rescued by a childhood Indian friend named Tonto (Michael Horse), John Reid is recuperated and then reborn as the masked hero we all know and love.

Getting revenge on Cavendish is John’s main goal, but he also wants to stop the monster from doing any more damage to the people he loves, thus the mask. Cavendish is no longer just a criminal, but actually an ex Union Major who was dishonorably discharged. His outlaw attempts are not just simple robbery and butchery, but rather his own deluded military dreams that drive him to create the free country of Texas, away from the claws of the United States government. Capturing President Grant, he holes up in a mountain fortress to ransom the president for the secession of the state of Texas as his prize. The only thing he didn’t think about was a masked ranger, previously though dead upon the valley floor and his Indian sidekick to mess things up.

This 1981 version of “The Lone Ranger” is in a world all its own. It’s not as classic or as a fun as the 1949 TV series, but it’s nowhere as insipid or slapstick as the Johnny Depp/Armie Hammer version as well. It falls somewhere in the middle, but still leaning towards the 1949’s version of hammy. I had to giggle the whole time, as Klinton Spilsbury played the classic good looking guy, built like a brick house (I mean he WAS a football player) who does the Tony Curtis “wink and a smile” to charm the audience. He actually did quite well as the masked man, fitting the physical characteristics as well as the good ole boy type of hero that we all loved from 30 years earlier. Still there are some elements of the movie that is definitely dated, with clichés and stereotypes that fit the 1980’s time period, as well as some political issues that were definitively part of the 80s. Christopher Lloyd was almost unrecognizable here, as he doesn’t use his normal “great scott!” voice that has almost become his signature, much like Shatner. Baby faced (even at 43), Lloyd plays the role as straight as an arrow, with nary a joke or overacting wink to betray his normal comic acting.

The downside to the whole movie is that 80% of it is what we’ve all seen before. WE KNOW the origin of the Lone Ranger. We know about Butch, and there is so many other villains in his repertoire that it seems wasteful to keep reusing the same villain time and time again. Plus it takes nearly 45 minute till he actually dons the suit and gets his famed horse, Silver. The saving grace was the reinterpretation of Cavendish as an ex-military rebel leader, rather than just a merciless thief. It added a nice twist to the classic character and gave him a certain sort of relatability, as well as an ice cold military persona to justify his atrocities.


Rated PG: Parental Guidance encouraged

Video :3.5stars:
The old DVD for “The Legend of the Lone Ranger” from Lionsgate entertainment was mind blowing in its awfulness. Full frame pan and scan along with a HORRIBLY outdated VHS master, the resulting image was almost unwatchable. While the movie itself doesn’t look like it came from a new remaster or rescan, it DOES look loads better than the old DVD. Cleaned up and with a much higher resolution base it still doesn’t look amazing, but definitely palatable. There’s spots and speckles, with some occasional horizontal lines to see, and the overall image looks a bit “gauzy”, but detail is decent and the color saturation is well done. There’s some contrast boosting and things look a tad yellow, but I fault the master for that one and while there’s some mild blocking, there’s not real major compression issues.

Audio :3.5stars:
The 2.0 DTS-HD MA track given to us by Shout! Factory is about on par with the video. It hasn’t been given a massive overhaul, but the lossless encode is generally pleasing. Being a 2.0 track don’t expect the surrounds or subs, and even any LFE backed into the mains is relatively nonexistent. Vocals are clean and clear for the most part, with the occasional echo or distortion coming through, and I noticed a background hiss that would come and go as the action got really intense. It was as if it was being boosted for some reason on the back end during those loud action pieces that went away when it quieted down.

Extras :halfstar:

• Theatrical Trailer

Overall: :3stars:

“The Legend of the Lone Ranger” is a strange curiosity. An almost forgotten about rendition of the famed masked vigilante in a role that almost copied the Clayton Moore TV series to a T in many aspects and was promptly forgotten about in the following years. It’s still quite a fun and goofy little movie though, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I remembered from my childhood. The video and audio for this release are quite decent considering the shape the masters are in, and certainly was fun enough to recommend for a good old nostalgic watch.

Additional Information:

Starring: Klinton Spilsbury, Michael Horse, Christopher Lloyd
Directed by: William A. Fraker
Written by: Ben Roberts, Ivan Goff
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Shout! Factory
Rated: PG
Runtime: 98 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 14th 2015

Buy Legend of the Lone Ranger On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Nostalgic Watch

More about Mike

· Premium Member
5,423 Posts
This is the version I think of when the Lone Ranger comes up. I have not seen it for years but always thought it to be better than Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels’ version and far better than Army Hammer and Jonny Depp.

· HTS Moderator , Reviewer
5,743 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This is the version I think of when the Lone Ranger comes up. I have not seen it for years but always thought it to be better than Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels’ version and far better than Army Hammer and Jonny Depp.
I can see that. this rendition is much more similar to the old 1949 version in tone. I think either version is still leaps and bounds better than the Captain Jack Tonto version
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