Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of finishing post and releasing my 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.
Week 121: The Legend of the Lone Ranger
Hype is a terrible thing. It has ruined many a movie’s reception and release. When you look back and separate the expectations of a film, taking it in for what it is, the assessment is often different. That’s certainly the case with The Legend of the Lone Ranger which I never would have guessed was a flop unless you told me.
Isn’t it a great film? No. But it’s far from being a bad one. First off, the cast is fantastic with Robards as Ulysses S. Grant, Christopher Lloyd as the villain, and Western character actors like Matt Clark and Richard Farnsworth making small appearances. You’ll even see Buck Taylor in a brief scene. The lead actor, who was highly criticized for this film, works for me. He would never work again according to what I’ve read and neither would Fraker, the director. For me, that reveals the stupidity of Hollywood. Here’s a filmmaker who did great Western work with Monte Walsh. He’s given a lavish production and it flops. So what? The flakiness of the industry, dumping you on your ass after one miss, is one reason I never want to work in the system.
On a spectacle level, the film shines too. I love the action set pieces of the stagecoach, the canyon ambush, and the finale. My main complaints about the film are Merle Haggard’s awful songs that should still be removed and how cheesy it is as the Lone Ranger repeats over and over “Hi-Yo Silver”. It should have been done once, that’s it.
Finally, I do think this film was ahead of its time in focusing on the origin story, not something audiences expected or wanted in the early 80s but nowadays, its standard for characters like this.
Watched on Tubi.