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The Legend Of The Lone Ranger (1981) – DVD Review



Written by: Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts, Michael Kane, and William Roberts based on characters created by George W. Trendle
Directed by: William A. Fraker
Starring: Klinton Spilsbury, Michael Horse, Christopher Lloyd, Jason Robards

Released by: Lions Gate
Region: 1
Rating: PG
Anamorphic: No, presented in 1.33:1 ratio

My Advice: Avoid It

John Reid (Spilsbury), a newly minted lawyer from back East, goes back West to help his brother, a Texas Ranger, bring some justice to this lawless land. John is no stranger to the savagery the West can give when as a boy his parents were murdered by the savage outlaw, Cavendish (Lloyd). Now he and his brother ride out with a posse to bring him to justice. But it turns out to be a trap and everyone except John is massacred. John is saved by Tonto (Horse), an Indian who helped him after his parents were killed. Now John takes on the guise of the masked man to stop Cavendish’s fiendish plans and bring law and order to the Old West. This is The Legend of the Lone Ranger.

[ad#longpost]Nowadays it seems we are inundated with remakes, relaunches, reboots, and re-imaginings. But we must remember that this is not unusual. During the late 70s and early 80, there were several movies that mined the past for their material: Superman, Popeye, King Kong. Like today, these were of varying quality. But this film is on the low end of the spectrum. The very low end.

For instance, the movie makes the mistake of giving you an overly long origin. You don’t actually see The Lone Ranger until an hour into the film. It also doesn’t help that the origin is overly drawn out with not just one but two traumatic events. The movie itself also borders on the ridiculous. Reid is a lawyer and therefore not handy with a pistol. Makes sense. Do we get a montage of him improving his marksmanship? No, Tonto gives him some silver bullets that magically make him a crack shot because “silver is pure”. And to add to the sheer head slapping is the climactic showdown to save President Grant, the Lone Ranger is helped by Wild Bill Hickok, General Custer, and Buffalo Bill Cody. You have got to be kidding me.

legend of lone ranger bar entrance
I have a reservation for two under Ranger.

It turns out that Blade Runner does not have the most annoying narrator in movies. Done by Merle Haggard, it’s almost like a commentary for the blind, telling the audience what is plainly going on the screen in case they had something in their eye at the moment. Another distracting audio blunder is having Klinton Spilsbury’s dialogue badly dubbed over by James Keach who wasn’t credited for his work. Which may not have been a bad thing. The DVD is even worse. I can understand why there are no extras on this disc. I doubt you could get anyone to admit to being in this turkey, much less talk about it. But you’d think they would give you a letterbox presentation so you can at least enjoy the Western vistas. Nope, you get full screen. Give this legendary flop a wide pass.

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