Tuesday, December 26, 2006

[DVD] The Lone Ranger (1956)

Hi Ho Silver!

The last time I saw a movie with a Caucasian and a Red Indian partner, was the French movie Brotherhood of the Wolf. Perhaps it's had its origins of such a pairing from The Lone Ranger, or so I'd like to believe. After having spent some time with old martial arts classics, I thought I'd set my sights on the western genre, and what more appropriate than the adventures of the legendary Lone Ranger astride his steed Silver, and his Red Indian sidekick Tonto.

For those not in the loop of this character, he's like the daytime vigilante of the Wild Wild West, in his mask concealing his true identity, and loads his guns with silver bullets. The silver bullet also functions as a calling card of sorts, and come to think of it, it's like a friendlier version of Batman, only in a different setting. And with that theme music - William Tell Overture - blaring in the background as they ride into the sunset, it's pure nostalgia. Not hard to imagine that I actually grew up on such stuff.

The movie begins by diving right into the story, with our heroes up against some mean and corrupt and greedy cattle ranchers who are after more land, and some bad hats amongst them trying to stir up war with the Native Americans. So it's up to our heroes to expose the truth, and to prevent bloodshed. That pretty much sums up the gist of the plot.

Although this is not an origin movie, the beginnings of how the Lone Ranger came about was mentioned in passing - His brother and himself, both Rangers, were ambushed by outlaws and left for dead. But Fate has Tonto rescuing the Ranger, and he decided to use the clothes of his dead brother to make a mask, to stay mysterious, to be feared by the villains he hunted down. The origins of Silver, his mighty loyal steed, is also mentioned, but more to the effect that it was nursed back to health by the Ranger himself.

Given that this was made in the 50s, you'd come to expect some very stilted and stiff dialogues, as heroes in those days, are expected to be squeaky clean. You probably can't find a speck of dirt on the Ranger's character, as he embodies everything that is good, with that All American feeling. Called the "trusty scout' (Kemo Sabe) by his Red Indian ally Tonto, the movie also takes a look at the prejudices faced by the Native Americans amongst groups of white men, and the strong partnership between our leads, is testament to the fact that ignorance and the lack of understanding, isn't the way to go.

The visual transfer isn't all that great, and it looks like it's VHS based, with little remastering done to remove the cacks and pops. The colours were inconsistent at times, and although it comes in both full screened and wide screened versions on the same disc, it isn't anamorphic.

The DVD extras are on a second disc, and has two sections. The first section contains interviews, while the rest goes into "Special Features".

There are two interviews included, and the first is with Michael Ansara, who plays Angry Horse. Interviewed by Michael Druxman (writer/director of The Doorway 1999), this interview fell short in quality as Ansana wasn't too chatty, and Druxman was chatting most of the time like a fanboy. Nothing much comes out of this interview, although a trivia was shared that the Lone Ranger actually never kills anybody on screen. Running at 17mins and 15 secs, I would recommend going straight for the second interview instead.

The second interview has more substantial material discussed, and it's natural given that it's conducted by Leonard Maltin of Entertainment Tonight, with the guest Dawn Moore, daughter of the Lone Ranger himself Clayton Moore. Conducted and recorded on 9 Feb 2001 and clocking in at 39 minutes, it is a heartfelt session with recollection of memories of Clayton Moore, about her childhood and growing up with the legend, many behind the scenes discussion at the production, anecdotes shared that only a child will know, and even talk about Silver the horse. Given her account, you'll be amazed at how hard Clayton Moore actually worked for the character, in character, in publicity that the company wanted him to do. This is a gem that all fans should give a listen to.

The Special Features section contains the following, though nothing in particular stands out:
a. Text biographies of main cast and director Stuart Heisler
b. A photo gallery with colour and black and white movie stills
c. Trailers for The Lone Ranger, The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold, and trailers for two non Lone Ranger, but Western, films - Ride in the Whirlwind and The Shooting (both starring Jack Nicholson)
d. A text writeup on The Lone Ranger Creed, which is also available on the insert.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...