I grew up watching the “Lone Ranger” on the small screen television. The show starring Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger from 1949-1957 (with John Hart temporarily taking over the part), was a weekly series that centered on the masked man throwing a monkey wrench into the desperadoes’ plans to cause havoc on the unsuspecting townsfolk. Tonto (Jay Silverheels), the sidekick had one job; help the Lone Ranger out of sticky situations. We never learned about Tonto’s back story or what made him the perfect sidekick. But, while all my friends rooted for the man in the white hat, I cheered for Tonto. Why? Find out after the jump.
I’ve always cheered for the Indians in every Cowboy and Indian show or movie. Why…maybe it’s because my Aunt Anna was married to a Native American and I knew what had really happened to the tribal peoples and their lands, or maybe I had a major crush on the handsome, quiet Indian who rode alongside the masked man. The Lone Ranger aka John Reid, was the sole survivor of a group of Texas Rangers led by big brother, Dan Reid. Ambushed by the dastardly Butch Cavendish (Glenn Strange) and his motley gang, John Reid is rescued and befriended by Tonto. Keeping his real identity a secret, the Lone Ranger would ride on to the screen and into our living rooms to the rousing theme song of the William Tell Overture.
The Lone Ranger was a man of honor and followed a strong ethical code: never shoot to kill; treat everyone as equals; always protect the women and children; never drink or cuss, and finally, the last and most important rule; never take off your mask. Every child worth his or her spurs, would often run through the house yelling out, “Hi, yo, Silver!” whenever the show came on. The Lone Ranger was a hero, our hero. This was the golden age of television and I was lucky to be part of this era.
Holy silver bullets! The same way that Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man, Johnny Depp is Tonto! After watching the movie last night with my family, I’m happy to say that Jay Silverheels will be smiling down on this newest version of The Lone Ranger. The movie starring Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger, Johnny Depp as Tonto, and William Fichtner as Butch Cavendish was directed by Gore Verbinski and produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer.
The 2013 movie is the same and yet so different than the early TV show. With top notch stars as Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Red Harrington, a peg-legged, brothel madam, this movie not only gives us a good old-fashioned western tale, but also a better insight into the friendship between Tonto and the Lone Ranger. Armie Hammer is perfect as the Lone Ranger, a man of the law who is loyal to his brother and his brother’s family. William Fichtner plays a very scary and cannibalistic Butch Cavendish, who kills the group of Texas Rangers led by Dan Reid (James Badge Dale).
This 2013 film has plenty of bad men to make this a proper western movie. Bad men who will kill to get what they want, like the railroad tycoon, Latham Coles, (Tom Wilkinson) who breaks the treaty with Chief Big Bear (Saginaw Grant) the leader of the Comanche Nations, or Captain Fuller (Barry Pepper) a corrupt cavalry officer who is hired to protect the railroad from the rightfully pissed off Indians.
But it’s Johnny Depp with his painted face and strange feathered headpiece that makes this movie worth watching. Depp’s Tonto is based on artist Kirby Sattler’s painting called I Am Crow, but it may not be an accurate portrayal of the Crow Nation. The movie was a blast and I will be buying the DVD; it’s that good. Johnny Depp’s one-line insults and expressions had us all laughing out loud, and there is enough action to satisfy even the squirmiest kid.
While growing up, the other kids in our neighborhood always played the role of cowboy or cowgirl, while I played the Indian; I always picked the underdog. The Native Americans are a proud people and this movie not only gave Tonto a voice, but the older people in the audience a chance to relive one of their childhood memories. The most surprising part of the night was when the William Tell Overture began to play during one of the rescue scenes. Everyone in that theater clapped their hands and yelled out “Hi, yo, silver” It was amazing! Go see the movie. You won’t regret it.
As a special treat, I have a few quiz questions. See if you know the answers: What tribe did Tonto belong to? What did the silver bullets represent? What tribe did actor, Jay Silverheels, belong to? What was the name of Tonto’s horse? Let me know if you guess the answers and have fun, my little kemosabes.