Monday, February 16, 2015

Seen It: Lone Ranger: "Message from Abe" (1957)

The Ranger (Clayton Moore) and the-man-who-would-be Abe (James Griffith) in "A Message from Abe."
Few television shows stand up to repeat viewing like classic Lone Ranger episodes. In retrospect, as a child, I was much too dismissive of the earnestness and quality brought to the roles by Clayton Moore (Lone Ranger) and Jay Silverheels (Tonto), but I am glad to say that I've learned from the error of my ways. Fortunately, episodes are readily available in low cost DVD collections and online.

For five bucks you can't go wrong.
The school district for which I teach maintains the time-honored tradition of a mid-Winter break, or President's Week Recess. In addition to looking forward to this week's release of Game of Thrones Season 4, this time also provides the opportunity to re-watch some classic shows . Not only is "A Message from Abe" the only color episode on the $5 collection (the DVD artwork of which is pictured to the left) but it also includes a recitation of Abe's (as in President Abraham Lincoln) more famous speeches, the Gettysburg Address.
Playbills are an effective way of advertising...
in the Old West.

Phil Beach (James Griffith) has a checkered past. He's made mistakes, but has endeavored to follow the straight-and-narrow, even becoming a sort of hobbyist cos-player. When the men who brought him to justice, the Ranger and Tonto, come across an advert for his commemorative speechifyin' (right), they decide to "look him up and see if he is [married and living on the right side of the law]." Of course, things don't always go smoothly for the rehabilitated criminal and a mystery (involving the mistaken identity of Abraham Lincoln re-enactors and missing loot) quickly develops

Without giving too much away, this episode once again illustrates the Ranger's keen observational skills, as well as his uncanny ability to fight crime and solve a mystery without resorting to violence or gun play, despite the preconceived notions that come with a story set in the Old West. In this episode, by simply taking stock of subtle gestures, the Ranger proves capable of both capturing the criminal and redeeming the wrongly accused all while invoking the forgiving spirit of President Lincoln.

Thanks to MoviesWebTV, via Youtube, the complete episode is available for free online (and embedded below). There are much less worthy ways to spend 20 minutes of your holiday than returning briefly to "those thrilling days of yesteryear."

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