Friday, April 19, 2019

Behind the Mask: The Making of Republic's Lone Ranger Serials

In addition to being the most profitable chapter play in the 20-year-history of Republic Pictures — generating more than $1.1 million in worldwide revenue — The Lone Ranger (1938) set new standards of excellence for motion pictures adapted from characters originating in other media. It was a genuine phenomenon, securing bookings from major theater circuits and big-city picture palaces at the time when serials mostly played during Saturday matinees in small-town movie houses. Along with their success at box offices, both The Lone Ranger and its 1939 sequel, The Lone Ranger Rides Again, added considerably to the lore and evolution of this beloved hero of American pop culture. 

A new book, Behind the Mask: The Making of Republic's Lone Ranger Serials, is a profusely illustrated monograph thanks to film historian Ed Hulse who presents a comprehensive, heretofore untold, behind-the-scenes history of the production for both serials. It has been extensively researched from recently uncovered documents buried deep in the files of George W. Trendle and attorney Raymond Meurer, the former a broadcasting magnate whose Detroit radio station WXYZ was the Lone Ranger's birthplace and home for more than two decades. Hulse reviewed hundreds of archival pages — private letters, legal correspondence, inter-office memos, studio production reports, even the original 1937 contract between Trendle and Republic — culling from them all pertinent details relating to the making of both serials and the first's 1940 feature version, Hi-Yo Silver

To this material Ed Hulse added information gleaned from his own interviews of principal participants: co-director William Witney, head writer Barry Shipman, stunt double Yakima Canutt, and cast members Herman Brix, George Letz (Montgomery), and Sammy McKim. In short, Ed dug into the archives and did a lot of research, making this a spectacular, comprehensive and accurate study of the serials.

The book also sports dozens of illustrations: rare stills, posters, advertisements, lobby cards, magazine covers, and production documents. 

You can order a copy from Amazon.com through the link below and the $12 price is a bargain. If you are a fan of The Lone Ranger or serials in general, this is worthy of acquisition.

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