From 'The Lone Ranger' To '3:10 to Yuma,' Pulp Fiction Westerns Fuel the Silver Screen

It looks like the Lone Ranger is once more about to have a reason to shout "Hi-yo, Silver! Away!" to his white stallion, accompanied by his ever-faithful companion Tonto.

Rumors are swirling around Hollywood that Johnny Depp's film The Lone Ranger has finally gotten the green light, and with fellow Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski, production should soon be underway.

But the movie won't follow in the footsteps of the original Clayton Moore Lone Ranger TV and movie renditions of the '40s and '50s. Reportedly, it will focus on Tonto, with Native American spiritual and occult aspects weaved in with special effects. Needless to say, it should be entertaining.

The Lone Ranger has become an enduring representation of American culture. The character first appeared in a 1933 radio show on radio station WXYZ. The show featured a fictional masked ex-Texas Ranger who, with his Native American companion, fights injustice and villainy in the American Old West.

The owner of WXYZ, George Trendle, wanted a western, and Fran Striker, a self-described hack writer, started writing. He created a vigilante lawman in the Lone Ranger who protects the criminal justice system by working outside of it, the perfect type of hero for the Depression Era.

But perhaps the best description of the Lone Ranger character is embodied in "The Lone Ranger Creed" by Fran Striker:

- I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.

- That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.

- That God put the firewood there but that every man must gather and light it himself.

- In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.

- That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.

- That 'This government, of the people, by the people and for the people' shall live always.

- That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.

- That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.

- That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.

- In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

Needless to say, the radio show was a huge hit and it was the inspiration for the equally popular TV show that ran from 1949-1957, comic books, movies and pulp fiction magazines of the same name.

On the radio show, the title character was played by George Seaton, Earle Graser and Brace Beemer. On TV, the Lone Ranger was Clayton Moore and Tonto was played by Jay Silverheels.

Of note, other famous western movies based on stories originally published in the popular pulp fiction magazines of the 1930s-1950s include Hondo, starring John Wayne, based on Louis L'Amour's short story "The Gift of Cochise," and the critically acclaimed 3:10 to Yuma starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, based on the Elmore Leonard story of the same name, which was published in the 1953 edition of Dime Western Magazine.

And with the upcoming Quentin Tarantino spaghetti western set in the old South, Django Unchained, now in production starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Waltz, moviegoers are certain to experience a new brand of western (pulp fiction style), and so return to those thrilling days of yesteryear...