austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Notary Sojac is fourth

There's word about a new Lone Ranger movie being in the works. The folks on rec.arts.tv pretty quickly concluded that this will be a disaster, and while I agree with the conclusion, I don't agree with the reasoning. See, the main reasoning is that the Lone Ranger premise is too corny and dated to play these days, with a side note that Tonto would set off tedious and unenlightening hissy fits over The Dread Peril of Political Correctness. I don't profess to be a Lone Ranger expert, but I do think the basic schtick for the character is a viable one even for modern audiences.

The backstory, as it more or less settled down after a few retcons: Reid is one of six Texas Rangers -- his brother leads the group -- pursuing the Cavendish gang, and the group is betrayed by one of their scouts, who was working for the Cavendishes, and the six are shot, left for dead. Reid is only mortally wounded, however, and (as the story shook out) Tonto rescues Reid and nurses him back to health. Tonto also buries the five dead Rangers, plus a further fake grave, so that the Cavendishes reasonably conclude he's dead as well. And so Reid goes on to pursue justice as the Lone (surviving) Ranger.

Other details follow from this: the silver for the bullets comes from the mine which he and his brother owned, and he takes just enough for his bullets. Why the silver bullets? Well, for the coolness factor, yes, but also in order to emphasize that human life is not cheap and if you're going to shoot someone it's going to cost you too. And the Lone Ranger also developed a bit in which while he would wear costumes, he would not lie, which could produce amusing scenes where he tries with Vulcan-like precision to not exactly claim to be the train engineer or something like that.

Now, what about this is any less plausible or psychologically modern than Batman is? And touches like never-lying and the silver bullet add to the coolness (particularly in how the silver bullet acts as refutation to the Western life-is-cheap stereotype and cliche). There's plenty of material for interesting stories there, even to modern jaded audiences.

I don't much care for the old-time radio serial, which was after all aimed at kids, and which suffers from having been an extremely popular serial. See, at its peak The Lone Ranger ran for about 18 hours per day, every day, and they just had to slow the plot way down so the poor writer didn't die of exhaustion. So they would drag about four minutes of story out to about an hour of radio time, what with the narrator explaining the story, the Lone Ranger explaining the story to the prospector or shopkeeper or whoever the grizzled pal this episode is, the grizzled shopkeeping prospector explaining the story to the squeaky-voiced kids, and the villain explaining the story to his sidekick, then Tonto explaining the story to the prospective shopkeeping grizzler, then the squeaky-voiced kid explaining the story to the Lone Ranger, who agrees that everyone understands what's going on now, and we can pause to hear The William Tell Overture, in full, before the narrator reminds us of the story so far. However, this is a side effect of the series being, at its peak, an endless gaping void in need of any content to fill it. In a modern movie there's theoretically a clearly defined point at which this stops, so the expository overload should not be a bother.

What I think is going to doom it is that it's to be produced by Jerry Bruckheimer Films. The writers are supposed to be the ones who did Pirates of the Caribbean, at least some part of it. While I liked the first movie more or less it was also pretty much two semi-compatible movies coexisting and running just a wee bit long in the sense of lasting longer than the War of Jenkins' Ear did. The sequels, I don't know, because the airplane attempts to show them always went wrong by one or more of those curious little airplane movie glitches. Perhaps it's not fair to hold that against projections of their future work, but, believe me, I would be delighted to be completely wrong in foreseeing a big sloppy mess created in a new Lone Ranger movie.

Trivia: Erie Boulevard, in Syracuse, New York, was until May 1918 the Erie Canal passing through the city. Source: Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation, Peter L Bernstein.

Currently Reading: A House In Space, Henry S F Cooper Jr.

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