The Lone Ranger was a big hit on television and ran for many seasons and has never stopped running in re-runs over the decades. The Lone Ranger was born on radio and was a massive hit in the medium when it did more than play 70's rock songs and try to convince us all that bad is good. The Lone Ranger was a pretty big hit in comics, with a long-lasting series which spun off comics dedicated to Tonto and Silver. But on the big screen, the Lone Ranger has a very spotty history.
The 1956 movie The Lone Ranger was a very successful translation of the TV series to a broader colorful landscape. All the recognizable elements were present but larger in scale and in full blushing color when such things were not all that common. The follow-up movie, The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold feels like a more humble effort all around. The color is still there, but the settings which shifted as needed in the first movie, seemed localized into a distinctly Southwestern area and not really the fictional western territory the series was accustomed to. Maybe this was an attempt to inject some level of realism into the the proceedings, but to my eye it doesn't work as well as the earlier effort.
We are of course talking about Cibola, one of the Seven Cities of Gold which the avaricious Spaniards sought so relentlessly for so long. Here we have a map to Cibola which has been distributed among many different Native American men, who don't really in most cases know what they have, and which is the sought by a greedy pair of villains. The baddies are pretty good in this one, a woman who is used to using her sex to get her way and a violent man all too ready to kill. Up against them stand the Ranger and Tonto. The Ranger uses his disguises again and creates a refined Southern gentleman rogue who plays a large part in the story. This movie is a real showcase for Clayton Moore but otherwise doesn't find the magic all the much, at least for me.
There is quite a violent finale, but it seemed somewhat too small scale for the big screen. Maybe I'm being too harsh on the movie, as it's still a delightful adventure, just not a big-screen event.
The Lone Ranger would try again in 1981 and yet again a few years ago, with folks not really able or willing to understand what makes the Lone Ranger work, and that what we have is the relentless nobility of two men who have sacrificed what they might want personally to bring some sense of order and justice to a wild unsettled land. This is heroism of the highest order and sadly we in the modern world all too often find such efforts to be naive or foolish. We are the fools.