Film & Water #144 – The Legend of the Lone Ranger



Hi-yo, Silver! Away! Rob and Chris Franklin discuss 1981's notorious THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER, starring Klinton Spilsbury, James Keach (sort of), Michael Horse, Christopher Lloyd, and Jason Robards!

Be sure to check out the newest episode of FW PRESENTS: THOSE WONDERFUL TOYS all about the Lone Ranger action figure line!

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23 responses to “Film & Water #144 – The Legend of the Lone Ranger

  1. Coincidentally, I realized something about this movie the other day. Many people I know have a problem with the narration, but I never did. In fact, I think it adds quite a bit to the movie. Now I know where that comes from. I grew up watching The Dukes of Hazzard. Every episode is narrated by Waylon Jennings, so this fit right into that mode of storytelling for me.

  2. When you mentioned that the filmmakers were obviously using (not my personal friend) Dick Donner’s 1978 Superman as their template, it reminded me of the WB tv network’s 2003 Lone Ranger movie. It was basically Smallville in the Old West. Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill; Agent Carter) played the cowboy hero. It’s not very good but is available on Youtube.

          1. YES!!! I had forgotten about that when Rob and I recorded, but came across it when looking for clips for TWT. Moore isn’t allowed to wear his mask, but Hart is all over the TV in this era in full costume.


    1. I can honestly say that I had never seen that commercial before, and that it is simply amazing in all aspects.

      The redhead woman who holds up the pizza rolls at about the 4 second mark looks really, really intense. Like she is almost daring you to try to take her pizza rolls. Then the guy right after her looks a bit like Nick Adams, who died in 1968 (the same year this commercial is attributed). So that’s a bit strange.

  3. I saw this movie in the theater when I was seven years old, and I loved it. When John Reid finally puts on the mask and rides off with Tonto as the William Tell Overture plays, that was pure movie magic for young me.

    I’d actually forgotten how big of a Lone Ranger fan I was as a kid. I remember watching episodes of the old TV series, as well as Filmation’s The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour. I even had the Lone Ranger and Silver 3-3/4″ action figures (, based on this movie.

    I’m sure many of the weaknesses of the film would be apparent to me, if I watched it again as an adult, but I have yet to do so. It was interesting (and a little saddening) to hear about all the behind-the-scenes shenanigans surrounding the movie. I will add that I never bothered to see the 2013 Lone Ranger movie.

    Thanks for another enjoyable stroll down memory lane.

  4. Great show as always Rob and Chris, though I am not a big fan of the film, I do think the critics (when they had more power to make or break a film) and then the public turned on the film when the competition was released afterward made the film disappear faster. That and how the film just never got that cult status and made it more of a obscure film. Thanks again for the the discussion.
    I am curious if you both or Rob and someone else would be interested in discussing two other films lost in obscurity around the same time. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Early Days and a guilty pleasure of mine Sting 2.

  5. God! The Sting 2. I’ve not seen that one in years. I probably saw it on cable before the original. I’d like to meet the studio exec who said “Who can replicate that Newman & Redford magic? I know, Jackie Gleason & Mac Davis.”

    And by the way: when are we getting the Smokey & the Bandit episode?

  6. Chris mentioned one of my favorite episodes of The Greatest American Hero in this episode. “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.” A great season 1 episode that featured an amazing performance by Robert Culp. Agent Maxwell’s former CO and hero wants to pull a major robbery, which shatters Maxwell. Meanwhile Ralph nearly screws up a rescue and wants to hang up the suit but after meeting John Hart decides to get back in the saddle. The ideas of meeting your heroes and your heroes letting you down are explored and the original song is pretty catchy.

    I may have to give this film another chance. LOVED it as a kid but was really disappointed when I rewatched it back around 2003 or so. Chris sold me on another viewing.

  7. It seems to me that the Lone Ranger is sort of a ubiquitous character. He is there, he is known. As a child, I knew of The Lone Ranger, but I don’t know how or why. The TV ad you played at the end put a memory in place, though. I had not yet seen any of the TV shows, or heard the radio show, so that was the first time I heard the name Butch Cavendish. Now at least I had a villain to go with the hero. I remember coming across the TV show in the late 70s, and watching as often as I could. Not too long after that I found an LP record with the first episodes of the radio show, including the ambush at Bryant’s Gap, and liked that more that the TV show!
    I’ve not seen any movie with the character, and I enjoyed your discussion. I was way ahead of you when I heard that one of the characters was named Stryker! I was impressed that they got so much right, until you said that he wasn’t really a Texas Ranger! What in the wide, wide, world of sports were they thinking! That’s like saying Kal El wasn’t really from Krypton! Jor El made him an honorary citizen just before the planet blew up! That’s plot point number one!
    One more piece of pedantry. Chris referred to Jay Silverheels as Native American. More specifically, he was Canadian. Even more precisely, a Mohawk.

  8. Just finished the episode up this morning, and very much enjoyed it. I have no recollection of this film at all from my youth except for the toys (that episode is queued up), having obviously failed to make any impact at all to be in the public consciousness by the time I was old enough to understand such things (1984-1985 or so). I remember The Lone Ranger from childhood, almost assuredly from Channel 11 WPIX showing reruns of the TV show, and the cartoon series. But I did not learn about this film until I was an adult, and I still have not seen it — although I do recall the Night Court episode which David mentions up above.

    That said, I am a sucker for oddball movies which fail at the box office, and I love Westerns, and have an affection for the character, so I am sure I will seek it out sooner or later. That has not pushed me to see the Johnny Depp debacle, but hey, that is what it is.

    Thanks for a fun episode Rob and Chris!

  9. I saw this on cable as a kid and really enjoyed it. But I really don’t remember much about it. Sounds like it needs a rewatch if I can find it.

    I’ll tell you I was all in on the Tarzan/Lone Ranger cartoons though. I remember on the cartoon once, the Lone Ranger threw a deck of cards in the air and then shot out the center suit from just the aces. Even though it was a cartoon I was floored. Must have been if I still remember it. I doubt you could get away with a gun-totin’ hero on a kid’s cartoon these days.

  10. Great episode, gentlemen!

    For some reason, I never knew this movie existed. All I knew was the Gabriel line of toys that haunted toy shops with Buffalo Bill figures (and the portly dude from Zorro) as far as the eye could see. I finally got around to watching the film last week and think it would have been a fantastic made-for-TV movie, but you can’t film a train heist on that kind of budget.

    The first half of the movie annoyed me a bit. If you’ve seen Solo, there are a lot of similar attempts at fan service that feel like a Wikipedia entry on screen. The second half is, as you lads noted, much better but not enough to save the first half and the origin changes.

  11. Really enjoyed this pair of episodes, guys! Chris, your enthusiasm for the Ranger was infectious. I hope you talk more about him in the future!
    I decided to watch LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER for the first time when I reviewed the Disney movie on a LI radio station. I was surprised how similar they were…for instance, making our hero THE BROTHER of a Texas Ranger! I didn’t get that. He’s literally the Lone Ranger, the only one who survived, not “The Dead Ranger’s Brother.” Maybe the producers thought starting Reid off as a more sensitive, bookish soul as opposed to a hardened Texas Ranger adhered to that Joseph Campbell-Hero’s Journey arc that they want every screenwriter to subscribe to…but I digress.
    My boss’s cousin, Ted Flicker, played Buffalo Bill in this movie. He was better known as a director, and part of the creative team behind BARNEY MILLER. William A. Fraker shot his best known movie, THE PRESIDENT’S ANALYST (which also inspired an issue of THE INCREDIBLE HULK, #227) so that was the connection. And hey, he got his own action figure out of it!

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