The Lone Ranger is part of cinematic history whether or not you know about it. The Lone Ranger in a way is much like Tarzan. A film icon that disappeared from the public eyes with each passing decade failing to modernize. With a new Lone Ranger movie coming out this year I chose to check out the movie surreal that started it.
Set in 1865, Captain Mark Smith of the Confederate Army leads a band of deserters to conquer Texas and rule it as a dictator. In one of his first actions, he captures and assumes the identity of Texas' new Finance Commissioner, Colonel Marcus Jeffries, after having the real man murdered. When a contingent of Texas Rangers enters the territory, Snead, one of Smith's men, leads them into an ambush by Smith's "troopers". The Rangers are apparently wiped out, although one injured survivor is left. The survivor, nursed back to health by Tonto, swears to avenge the massacre and defeat "Colonel Jeffries" and his men. The serial also does not reveal the Lone Ranger identity til the end. This serial contains 15 chapters which in total is almost four hours long.
There's not a whole lot to say about this movie serial. It's very reliant on formula and basic plot lines. Excluding the first chapter this movie serial rely on the Lone Ranger narrowly escaping danger or foiling the villain evil scheme, saying his catchphrase "Hi-Yo Silver", his theme playing in the chapter, the villain coming up with a new plan, fistfight or a gun fight, and ending on a cliffhanger. Rinse and repeat the same thing with no changes. The plot lines are very simple and easy to follow. It's easy to get into these serials and does a nice job of recapping previous events. The simple plot are interesting. Some have crazy sense of logic; like in one serial there's a cave that has a Volcano and one that has doors. Excluding the first chapter all the chapters last under 18 minutes. I could see some of these serial inspiring some Westerns for it does have allot of creativity.
These short serials contain some good action and stunt work. The best example being a fist fight on a running stage-coat and one segment that look like it inspired a famous action scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The acting is hammy at best. The editing is okay. Sound problems are common with dialogue or music awkwardly cutting out or going out of syn. The worst example is chapter 10 which has frequent cuts in basic scenes. The villain is smart making for a capable foe against our hero. It's quite amazing how many good plans this villain comes up with. His evil henchman are idiots though. There's some scenes where the henchman outnumbers our heroes, but for some reason most of the henchman don't carry guns half of the time. The intro is also two minutes long and sometime playing the last minute or so from the previous chapter.
The Lone Ranger movie serials have not aged well. From a technical stand point the lightning at times make things to bright or to dark tell exactly what's going on. A heavy reliance on formula without change means more of the same every time. What makes this serial worth viewing are the adventures. The action scenes are exciting, the plot always deliver a sense of danger and keeps things fresh with the different evil schemes, and keeps you guessing who the Lone Ranger is. If you're curious on checking this serial out it is available on YouTube to see, but do expect a formulaic series if you go into it.