Origins of Lone Ranger, Tonto, & Silver

DATELINE: Hi-ho, Hi-yo!

tonto  Jay Silverheels

When you tie together the first 3 episodes of the 1949 TV show The Lone Ranger, you have an early TV movie. Indeed, some years ago, the producers edited these extraordinary moments into a short film. Sometimes it is called Enter the Lone Ranger, or Origin of the Lone Ranger.

The latest edit is called The Lone Ranger Story, answering all your questions, according to the narrator.

You have to guess which one of the six Texas Rangers is, in fact, the one who survives a terrorist attack by a Manson-style gang. You never see his face until he dons the mask. He cannot put on the mask until his face heals.

On top of that, he will presume to be dead, making an empty grave for himself. He is a ghostly vision of revenge against lawlessness. He rises from the dead after three days in a near coma.

His faithful companion, Tonto, bleaches his hat white as a symbol of his new identity. He cuts a mask from the vest of the Ranger’s dead brother.

You see him crawling to a spring to save himself, but only when his childhood friend Tonto appears is the Ranger likely to survive to another day. As the narrator states: “He was a fabulous individual.” He was indeed a walking fable.

In case you forgot, the Masked Man is rich: he owns a silver mine—and takes his payment from that. He also casts silver bullets: another symbol of justice, never to be used on another person. He will hand them out like calling cards. He wears Tonto’s ring around his neck.

And, to finish the silver motif, he finds a white stallion of great indomitable spirit with whom he bonds. Hi-yo, my goodness!

The film is old, simplistic, and utterly charming with the exciting William Tell Overture as a musical background. Clayton Moore’s baritone is authoritative, and Jay Silverheels is the ultimate in noble savage. The horse ain’t bad neither.

What a treat from the thrilling days of yesteryear. The Lone Ranger rides again. Oh, you, Kemo Sabe.


Westworld 2.8 Ghostly Nation

 DATELINE: Thrilling Days of Yesteryear


If you’re not in Oz, and not in Delos’s Westworld 2, you must be in Ford’s Ghost Nation where you live in some kind of digital memory bank.

We’re heading down the homestretch of conundrum, east of chaos and southwest of confusion. Our GPS coordinates on the series are sending us down one-way streets that are closed to thru-traffic.

Those Indians in black and white war-paint may seem like a throwback to old TV westerns. In fact, we are in one old Western in particular. Welcome to the Lone Ranger.

Hiyo, Silver horse, running through the dreams of the Noble Savage, Tonto, or in this case, Ake.

Yes, we re-live Tonto saving the Lone Ranger at least three times in this episode. He saves Ben Barnes, left for dead in the desert last season. He saves Ed Harris, left for dead like the last ranger, this season. And he may even save Thandie Newton.

Two of the scenes are right out of the original production of the Lone Ranger-Tonto playbook. Our last surviving member of his tribe comes across a massacre and makes a ghost who walks for revenge.

It seems the Noble Savage is another bad robot, spreading his discontent, looking for a door to escape being an automaton. A touchstone with one key backstory motivates them to a better world.

And, now it seems that Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) has been all for it. We are moving toward truth, as all the characters seem to be realizing. We stand in awe of Jonathan Nolan pulling this three-ring circus together in the final episodes of the season.



Hi-Yo, Tonto!



Tonto Means Stupid as in Dopey Depp

Never have we been quite so reluctant to view a movie.

We loved Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels as the Ranger and his kemosabe—and even to this day resent the Klinton Spillsbury version.

So, after seeing photos of Johnny Depp in full shaman regalia—and hearing that this was a re-interpretation of the legend with Tonto now the brains of the couple, we have a sinking feeling.

Well, first of all, Tonto was always the idea man. Anyone who bothered to see the original TV pilot would know that Tonto bleached the hat white, came up with the disguise, and even christened the Ranger with a new name.

There is nothing new under the sun, except Johnny Depp’s Johnny Come Lately version. The usual sidekick Armie Hammer, not to be confused with Arm & Hammer, also starred as the gay companion of J. Edgar in the Leonardo di Caprio movie about Hoover. Hammer seems doomed to be the eternal boy-next-door trapped in the closet.

In this ersatz gay love story, Hammer is the Ranger Dr. Watson to Tonto’s Sherlock. We are awash in bromantic male couples, or is that a silly tautology?

First, the film is two-and-a-half hours long, in violation of every rule of good westerns being less than ninety minutes. And, next, it starts off in San Francisco in 1933, savaging the myth and alienating old fans with too many twists on the original.

Tonto is 100 years old, working in Wild West show and telling the “true’ story. Forget those thrilling days of yesteryear.

In this film you will see compositions stolen from better movies like Little Big Man, For a Few Dollars More, and The Searchers. This is the Western designed by adolescents who have only seen Western movies—and misapply the details.

We gave up counting the anachronisms that numbered more than movie parody references in a Mel Brooks comedy. Indeed, this film’s spirit walker father is Blazing Saddles.

Everything we treasure in Westerns is trashed in this movie, and our Lone Ranger suffered the worst.


Fans of Movie Mashup should read the book of the same name, available on