While traveling through the American Southwest, The Lone Ranger (Clayton Moore) and Tonto (Jay Silverheels) come upon a rancher who is having a shoot out with a small band of Native Americans. The Rancher, Pete Ramirez (Perry Lopez), tells the Ranger that the Indians from the reservation have been stealing cattle from some of the ranchers in the area. The Ranger and Tonto notice that these particular Indians have been riding with saddles, something most Native Americans don’t do. Pete also tells them that the Governor of the territory (Charles Meredith) will be visiting a local wealthy rancher, Reese Kilgore (Lyle Bettger).
It is believed that the Governor is here to go on a hunting trip but he has more in mind than hunting. The territory is looking to become a state but there have been some reported issues between the ranchers and the natives. Kilgore wants to move the Indians out of the territory to another reservation but there is a peace treaty and the Indians are tired of broken promises. The Governor meets in secret with the Lone Ranger. He enlists the Ranger’s help with investigating the rising unrest between the Indians and the settlers and find out what is really going on.
The Ranger visits Red Hawk (Frank DeKova), the chief of the tribe. He tells the Ranger that it wasn’t his braves that have been killing the cattle. Red Hawk says that the ranchers have been going on the Indian land and invading their sacred Spirit Mountain. The Ranger is beginning to believe that the Native Americans are getting a raw deal in this issue and that Kilgore has something nefarious up his sleeve.
Meanwhile Kilgore has his foreman Cassidy (Robert J. Wilke) take the cattle to Abilene to sell and to pick up a load of dynamite. The Ranger enlists Ramirez to keep an eye on Cassidy. In Abilene Cassidy gets suspicious about Ramirez being around and has him killed. When the Ranger finds out about Ramirez being killed and the dynamite he realizes there’s more going on than just some unrest between the Indians and the ranchers. Kilgore is up to something and part of the plan is to get rid of the natives so he can get his hands on Spirit Mountain.
“The Lone Ranger” was released in 1956 and was directed by Stuart Heisler. It is a western adventure film and a superhero movie. It is the first of two theatrical films based on the Lone Ranger television series. The other film was “The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold” 1958. Both Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels reprised their roles from the television series as the Lone Ranger and Tonto.
As soon as you hear the beginning notes of “The William Tell Overture” you are transported back to your childhood. And if you watched the show as a kid you expected a lot of low budget black and white stories. Even the film “Enter the Lone Ranger” 1949 was just three episodes of the black and white television series reedited to make an origins story. For the first official Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels Lone Ranger film you have a bigger budget, an interesting story and it’s in color. It’s like the Lone Ranger grew up but you still have the childlike quality of the characters. And it’s still a whole bunch of fun.
Granted there are some back screen scenes that are obviously back screen but there are still plenty of fist fights, gun fights, dynamite explosions and even a stampede to entertain you. There is also some decent cinematography of mountain ranges and scrublands. It being the fifties there is still the racist broken English of the Native Americans but those were the times and all you can do it hope we’ve learned something from it. At least it’s nice to see some reality in the fact that the Natives were the good guys and the whites were the bad guys.
Parts of the film were shot in Kanab Canyon, Barracks Canyon, and Johnson Canyon in Utah.
The Lone Ranger's original horse was a chestnut mare named Dusty, who was shot and killed by Butch Cavendish. After Dusty's death, the Ranger and Tonto proceeded to Wild Horse Canyon and found Silver. In the radio program it is revealed that Silver is shod with silver horseshoes. Silver sired a son, named Victor, who belonged to the Lone Ranger's nephew, Dan Reid Jr.