Saturday, July 6, 2013
"Who Was That Masked Man?"
At the movies, this has been kind of a "nostalgia summer" for me. I was not much of a Star Trek fan when the show originally aired (neither were too many other people: It was cancelled quickly, as I recall--after three seasons, as I just confirmed). But my younger brother was, so I sometimes watched with him when I was home visiting (the show premiered in 1966, the first year of my teaching career).
But two of the other big summer movies this year--Man of Steel and The Lone Ranger--came directly from my boyhood. As I wrote the other day about the Superman film, I had faithfully watched that old half-hour show (1952-1957) with George Reeves as the Man of Steel--and, as I wrote, was very disappointed in the recent film, whose producers seemed more interested in seeing how many buildings they could destroy, how many people they could kill (most of whom were off-screen), than in exploring the phenomenon of flight (and the other super powers), the psyche of Superman. Nuff said.
So when The Lone Ranger opened, I was both hopeful and worried: Would filmmakers once again sully an idol of my youth? Desecrate? Befoul? (You know?)
Let's back up. During the Korean War we were living in Amarillo, Texas, where my dad, recently called back up for active military duty (he'd served in both theaters in WW II), was a chaplain out at Amarillo Air Force Base. (We were there in 1952-1953, the years I was in second and third grade.) Although we'd had television reception back in Enid, Oklahoma, and owned a TV, it was useless in Amarillo, which had no stations--or access to any stations. So ... we listened to the radio, which was in its terminal phase of providing dramatic productions. But they were still on. And so I listened to shows that were not long for this world: Fibber McGee and Molly, The Shadow (whose opening scared me--here's a link to some of the old Shadow shows: see what you think), variety shows (Jack Benny, for example), and The Lone Ranger. It was on for more than twenty years: 1933-1954. Here's a Link to a site where you can hear all the old shows. Brace Beemer played the Ranger for most of the run; Tonto was John Todd.
The horses? The Ranger's, of course, was Silver; Tonto's, Scout.
Because I'd been watching the show in Enid, in Amarillo (where I was 8-ish years old), I had to adjust to different voices playing the parts. It didn't take long. And soon, I found I enjoyed flopping on the floor by the old console radio, listening to the Ranger and Tonto as they brought Justice to the Old West--all to the galloping sounds of the Overture from Rossini's William Tell--the one classical piece of music that every kid in America recognized.
The show was filmed at the Iverson movie ranch near LA; though much has changed at the old
So, yes, I ran around the neighborhood with my cap gun, my Lone Ranger mask (you could buy them in any five-and-dime), my cowboy hat (ditto), and tried to convince my little brother that he had to be Tonto--yes, always. Get used to it. (I don't think he did.)
And so, you see, I was worried that some new production team would ruin the Ranger for me. Nevertheless, there we were, Joyce and I, on opening night, ready to return, once again, to the thrilling days of yesteryear ...
TO BE CONTINUED ...