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The Lone Ranger Lives! (edit of the 1981 Legend of the Lone Ranger film)

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I have a similar post over at fanedit.org and wanted to share with any other potential fans!

The year was 1981. There was some hype being built that The Lone Ranger was coming back to the big screen and this was going to be a big movie. A movie that was to have a John Barry score with 10 or so segments narrated by Merle Haggard. Producers were so sure this was going to be so big that a lawsuit was issued asking TV’s Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, to stop doing public appearances while wearing the Lone Ranger mask as they didn’t want to “confuse” audience members. Well, this backfired so hard that unknown actor Klinton Spilsbury, who was cast as a way of taking a page out of the “cast an unknown like they did with Superman” book, didn’t stand a chance of this movie being a box office hit. Also, for some reason, the producers didn’t like Klinton’s voice, so they hired actor James Keach to dub his voice over Klinton’s. On top of that, Klinton was constantly making headlines by getting in trouble with bar brawls and the like. There was so much bad juju around this movie, you would’ve thought Tonto put a curse on it. Speaking of Tonto, he was played by Michael Horse who would go on to garner some fame from Twin Peaks. Needless to say, when the movie finally premiered, it didn’t capture audiences the way they had hoped, and the Ranger rode off for a little over 20 years before the WB tried and failed at making a terrible teen drama pilot using the character, but little to nothing else. Disney tried their hand, but that did even worse.

So, I felt that it was time to give the Ranger his due with the respect the character deserves.

My knowledge of The Lone Ranger comes from the 3-part origin episodes that were edited into a movie which I found on DVD, then there were the 2 movies with Clayton Moore “The Lone Ranger” and “The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold”. The Disney movie is like a combo of the origin episodes and the first movie and this 1981 version is somewhere in between.

This project is going to take a while, but here is what I will be doing with it:

General Edits

  • Convert to Black and White UPDATE: There will be a color release and a black and white one as well.
  • ALL Merle Haggard narrations are gone. They are hokey and very dated (as I’m sure they were when this was released). This is what is making the project take longer. There are several scenes that have about a minutes worth of sound effects that need to be built from the ground up.
  • Add in and swap out some of the John Barry score. I am also using music from John Barry’s King Kong score whenever necessary. John Barry likes to use slower music over faster scenes as well as sometimes no score at all where there really could be. In general, any music added will be from John Barry only as long as it fits the aesthetic.

Specific Edits

  • Cut young Reid saying to his mother “why’d you have to die” while cradling her lifeless body. The delivery was terrible.
  • Cut opening titles and create something new
  • Cut the stagecoach stopping to pick up Amy. Since I’m cutting the opening titles, this brief scene isn’t needed. She will appear already on the stagecoach asking someone to switch seats with her.
  • Cut the music used during the stagecoach chase as this should be more tense that cowboys are riding up and shooting at them. It has been replaced with music from King Kong (1976).
  • Cut the line “so much for the American dream” spoken by the gambling passenger after the passenger across from him is shot during the stagecoach chase. Unnecessary.
  • Trim the conversation between John Reid and his brother Dan inside the cabin where Dan says he wants to piss on President Grant.
  • Cut Butch Cavendish’s introductory scene. Besides the Merle Haggard narration, it was more bizarre than anything else and I wanted to hide the twist that the Del Rio sheriff is working with Butch, one of 2 betrayals that will occur at the Bryant’s Gap ambush.
  • By cutting Butch’s intro, now it looks as if John’s arrival and the party scene occur on the same day.
  • Trim the conversation between John, Dan, Amy and Lucas so it doesn’t allude that it’s been more than one day and also to trim the awkward delivery of the supposed-to-be-awkward scene between Amy and John after Lucas and Dan leave.
  • After Amy’s father Lucas is found hanged, she screams something to the effect of “my father Lucas!”. This line has been cut.
  • Cut rangers chatting it up together as they enter the canyon looking for Butch and his gang. The reason for this is that it slows things down and it’s not like we spent enough time with them to feel any worse as they are massacred. You spent even less time with the rangers in the first episode of the show as it is. Another cut that takes place in this scene as well is Collins saying “I wonder if Cavendish knows we’re riding right us his ass”. This was TOO on the nose when you find out that Collins is the other traitor (besides the sheriff).
  • Cut the dialogue exchange between John and the older ranger during the shootout. This was just ridiculous and nothing was gained from this scene. It’s not like the old ranger imparted some wisdom to John, so it had no point. Again, we didn’t spend much time with the rangers before, so him dying with this conversation exchange or not doesn’t make me feel any different. These poor rangers were wiped out thanks to the betrayal of one of its own.
  • Cut the scene with John breaking Silver in. That scene goes on waaaaaay too long and the music annoys me because of how long the scene goes on. We don’t need to see Silver being broken in. Now John and Tonto find him and for the third time and we can assume where it goes.
  • Move the scene of the Lone Ranger and Tonto’s first ride to the end of the movie. Now, we see John wearing the mask and cut right to Del Rio at nighttime when they go to find Collins.
  • Added a glass bottle breaking sound effect after the Ranger throws Collins’ booze when questioning him. Originally it was just a thud.
  • Cut model train scene. We have just learned briefly from Collins that Cavendish wants a train, but that’s all we find out. The next scene shows Cavendish with a model train set telling his men and the audience that he’s going after the president. I rather we figure this out with the Ranger and Tonto than having the mystery spoiled so quickly.
  • Use Hans Zimmer’s version of William Tell Overture. It is a tad slower, more percussive and kind of matches the pace the Ranger rides as he rescues Tonto from the noose (as well as the galloping sound effect I had to use to rescore this scene).
  • Move scenes around, now the order is: Tonto is captured > We see Butch and gang riding out of their compound going somewhere > Ranger rescues Tonto from noose > we see the little boy telling Amy a padre has summoned her > We cut to Butch and his men near train tracks and we know he’s up to something, but we aren’t sure because all we know as the audience is that he’s got a plan for a train > back to Amy in the church where she tells a disguised Ranger that Grant is coming in on a train > cut to Grant sitting with Wild Bill Hicock and Buffalo Bill Cody > some back and forth between Grant, Ranger and Butch’s men until Grant is capture
  • After the little boy tells Amy that the padre wants to see her, cut him saying “you must’ve done something really bad”.
  • Rescore and new sound effects for when the Ranger and Tonto arrive at the empty train car and then proceed to ride on to Butch’s compound. We can assume Tonto helped track where all of the men went with Grant without the awful narration telling us.
  • Cut The Lone Ranger contemplating shooting Butch. At the point of its release, it was still a cliche, but we weren’t as tired of it as we are now.
  • Cut ending montage and replace with the earlier first ride of the Ranger and Tonto.
  • Use a brief narration clip from the old Ranger radio show as well as radio Lone Ranger saying “Hi-yo Silver! Away!”

The complete movie is on YouTube which is where I first watched it. It’s not THAT bad, but I feel like with my edits we can get to a decent Lone Ranger movie that isn’t as over the top as Disney’s take on the character.

There will be updated cuts as the project continues, but here were my general ideas after several viewings of the film. I spent a few hours on some sound work for an 80 second scene, so it’ll be a while until this is done, but for you Ranger fans out there, soon you will return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past comes the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver!

The Lone Ranger Lives!