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The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)

The sole surviving Texas Ranger (Klinton Spilsbury) of an ambush arranged by outlaw leader Major Bartholomew "Butch" Cavendish (Christopher Lloyd) returns to fight back as a great masked western hero, The Lone Ranger.


William A. Fraker


Ivan Goff (screenplay), Ben Roberts (screenplay) | 5 more credits »
4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Klinton Spilsbury ... The Lone Ranger / John Reid
Michael Horse ... Tonto
Christopher Lloyd ... Cavendish
Matt Clark ... Sheriff Wiatt
Juanin Clay ... Amy Striker
Jason Robards ... President Ulysses S. Grant
John Bennett Perry ... Ranger Captain Dan Reid
David Hayward ... Ranger Collins
John Hart ... Lucas Striker
Richard Farnsworth ... Wild Bill Hickok
Lincoln Tate Lincoln Tate ... General George A. Custer
Theodore J. Flicker Theodore J. Flicker ... Buffalo Bill Cody
Marc Gilpin ... Young John Reid
Patrick Montoya Patrick Montoya ... Young Tonto
David Bennett David Bennett ... General Aurelio Rodriguez


When the young Texas Ranger, John Reid (Klinton Spilsbury), is the sole survivor of an ambush arranged by the outlaw leader, Bartholomew "Butch" Cavendish (Christopher Lloyd), he is rescued by an old childhood Comanche friend, Tonto (Michael Horse). When he recovers from his wounds, he dedicates his life to fighting the crime that Cavendish represents. To this end, John Reid disguises himself and becomes the great masked western hero, The Lone Ranger. With the help of Tonto, the pair go to rescue President Ulysses S. Grant (Jason Robards, Jr.) when Cavendish takes him hostage. We learn that Cavendish was an officer in the United States military before he was court-martialled and dishonorably discharged. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In the Old West, legends loomed larger than life. And yet none ever loomed so large as... See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


In its opening weekend, this expensive production was beaten by Bustin' Loose (1981) and The Four Seasons (1981). The opening of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) three weeks later killed it completely. See more »


When dynamiting Cavendish's headquarters , the wooden barracks building is blown up three times. See more »


[first lines]
First Scalphunter: You got him! You got him!
Young John Reid: Shh, sit down. Get down!
Young Tonto: Leave me alone!
First Scalphunter: You ain't never gonna find that little redskin.
Second Scalphunter: When I do, I'm gonna scalp him.
Young John Reid: [whispering] Go. It's alright. Come on.
Second Scalphunter: The little injun's somewhere.
Young John Reid: [whispering] Get down.
First Scalphunter: They're at the Reid place. Come on, we're missin' it.
See more »

Alternate Versions

UK versions are cut by 5 secs to remove horse-falls. See more »


Version of The Lone Ranger (2003) See more »


Finale from The William Tell Overture
from the opera "William Tell" (uncredited)
Written by Gioachino Rossini
(Closing titles)
See more »

User Reviews

What Went Wrong?
11 July 2000 | by Shield-3See all my reviews

I just finished watching "Legend of the Lone Ranger" again, and, as always, I come away scratching my head. Why isn't this a better movie? What went wrong?

On the plus side: John Barry does his usual bravura job with the score. Michael Horse's Tonto is as smart as Jay Silverheels, but more vocal, which is a nice change. Jason Robards is obviously having a ball playing Ulysses S. Grant, and every time he's onscreen, the energy quotient goes up.

On the minus side: Merle Haggard's narration -- what were they thinking? With the exception of Horse and Robards, everyone else acts like they were drugged before walking in front of the camera. Christopher Lloyd in particular tries to make his Butch Cavendish menacing, but he doesn't have much to work with. And Klinton Spilsbury...

It had to take a lot of guts to put on that black mask. No other character is so thoroughly identified with a single actor: there are people who will debate that Sean Connery wasn't the best Bond, or that there were Tarzans other than Johnny Weismuller, but to the world at large, Clayton Moore IS the Lone Ranger. It's easy to beat up on Spilsbury just because he's not Moore, which isn't fair, but it goes beyond that. In order for a movie like this to work, you have to believe that your star is the Lone Ranger, and I kept getting the impression Spilsbury didn't buy it himself. The producers obviously had their doubts, too, which accounts for why they redubbed all of Spilsbury's lines.

What it boils down to is, "Legend of the Lone Ranger" isn't the total catastrophe some claim, but it still isn't very good. It has a certain irresistable attraction to the diehard Lone Ranger fan, like gawking at a massive car wreck -- it'll kill a couple of hours, but it doesn't stick with you when it's all done.

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Release Date:

22 May 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Legend of the Lone Ranger See more »

Filming Locations:

Monument Valley, Arizona, USA See more »


Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,945,600, 25 May 1981

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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