|THE TERROR OF TINY TOWN
|Not Rated (Definitely not PC)
|Copyright 1938 Principle Productions Inc.
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 27 July 2007 (updated)
- Buck Lawson - The hero. He wears white duds with the pockets painted onto them.
- Nancy Preston - The heroine. She falls in love with Buck (she brings him food; girls, we love it when you bring us food).
- Pop Lawson - The father of Buck Lawson, of course. He owns one of the two large ranches in the area.
- Tex Preston - The tall and thin (compared to the others in this movie) rancher. Apparently he suffers from a skunk-like body odor. Shot by Bat Haines.
- Otto - The comical chef at the Preston ranch. He constantly does things in the kitchen that make me wince. Climbing into a burning wood stove or throwing his hat into the stew is all part of a normal day for Otto.
- The Sheriff - The lawman who is on Bat Haines' payroll. He develops a serious case of moral conscience, which is fatal for men in his position.
- Nita - The saloon floozy; I did not dwell on the idea of her having any side jobs.
- Fritz - The butt-biting and backwards-walking duck.
- The Residents of Tiny Town - By the way, do not try to identify everyone from "The Wizard of Oz." It's enough to make a person go mad.
- Bat Haines - The bad guy who gets too big for his britches. Transformed into human salsa when dynamite turns his secret hideout into kindling.
|"The Terror of Tiny Town" is like any other western from the 1930's: the good guy wears white, the bad guy wears black, the hero goes for a ride on the range with his sweetheart and plays the guitar as they sing songs, the villain rustles cattle and holds up the stagecoach, and, at the end of the film, the good guy and bad guy have a fistfight in a cabin as the fuse on a bundle of dynamite slowly burns. Here's the twist: every single person who appears in this film is a midget.
Quite frankly, that little plot twist is pure genius. If I ever become a millionaire film producer, you will see the same twist used to make midget versions of "Rocky," "Predator," "Top Gun," and even "Star Wars" (forum regular Burgomaster was the first to suggest "Star Wars," and I am deeply in his debt for such a beautiful idea).
To make sure that the audience notices the cast's stature, several tricks were used. Something anyone will notice is that the characters ride Shetland ponies. The choice was probably functional as well as "artistic," because I doubt that Buck could vault atop a normal-sized horse without a trampoline (trampolines were not common in the Old West). Another amusing point is that tough cowboys entering the saloon are forced to reach up and swing the doors open. The diminutive cast members could easily walk under the doors, but swinging them open and swaggering inside is mandatory in a western. Of course, the thirsty saloon patron is then forced to step up onto a bench just to see over the bar...
In fact, what is up with all of the buildings? They are hardly the correct size and dimensions for the populace. Was the town built by giants and then subsequently abandoned, to be eventually repopulated by the townsfolk we see now? What happened to all of the tall people? Why were midgets the only survivors? Perhaps Earth was attacked by piranha birds that flew five feet above the ground, decapitating anything in their way!
Yes, I know that they used an existing western town movie set. Don't you have any inherent suspension of disbelief? The world of "The Terror of Tiny Town" is one entirely populated by midgets. You explain why everything is built for people who are six feet tall.
The Preston and Lawson ranches are experiencing mysterious losses from their herds. The rustling is being committed by Bat Haines and his gang. However, the evil desperado is after more than a few calves; he wants to own both of the ranches. Buck finds a branding iron with the Preston mark after chasing the rustlers off of the Lawsons' land. On the other side of the valley, Bat informs Tex that he happened upon a Preston cow that had been shot to death. Near the dead cow was a calf with a Lawson brand on it. The two ranchers blame each other for the cattle rustling and trouble is a-brewin'.
With the Sheriff in Bat Haines' pocket, you would expect the situation to quickly lead to bloodshed, but both of the ranchers show considerable restraint when they run into each other at the barber shop (the barber tries to avert catastrophe by dropping a steaming towel on Preston's face, too). The only thing that the two men sling at each other is insults. Their shooting irons stay slung.
Elsewhere, the stagecoach is attacked by Bat Haines and his gang. Riding on the stage is Preston's niece, Nancy. The stage's driver and the guard riding shotgun (literally) are both killed, leaving no one in control of the horses. Nancy bounces around inside the stagecoach as it races toward certain peril. Just then, Buck and a couple of men from the Lawson ranch ride up. Though they are outnumbered, the good guys sound the charge and urge their ponies forward. Because the good guys are coming, Bat Haines and his men turn tail and run! Then Buck tells his cowboys to chase after the outlaws while he goes after the runaway stage. The bad guys escape, but Buck successfully rescues Nancy.
How does the previous scene work for you? Probably pretty good, since you are not one of Buck's posse. He sends them after the men with guns, while he chases down a pretty girl. Put in his situation, I would probably make the same choice, sugar over bullets, but you have to admit that the cowboys must have taken off after the bad guys and then realized, "Wait a minute, what are we doing?"
Though Buck has an inkling someone besides a Preston is behind the cattle rustling, his main concern is romancing Nancy. Only after the impending range war threatens to cut off his access to the cowgirl (and her picnic basket) does Buck seek out Tex to talk some sense into the old rancher. Unfortunately, Bat Haines watches the parley and shoots Tex Preston in the back. The villain returns to the Preston ranch and blames the murder on Buck. Nancy does not believe him, but the Sheriff arrests the younger Lawson.
A fair trial is the last thing that Bat Haines wants for Buck Lawson. Instead, he incites the saloon regulars into storming the Sheriff's office. The only thing shorter than Buck's trial might be the tree the lynch mob will use to hang him. At the last minute, the Sheriff finally decides that enough is enough - he cannot watch an innocent man hang. The villain shoots the Sheriff (but not the deputy) and flees, like a Bat out of Hell, to his secret hideout. Buck rides off in hot pursuit. The two men have unfinished business - the type that can only be solved with fists or a six shooter.
Ha! This whole time you were waiting for me to make a short pun and, instead, I opted to use the villain's first name as the comic foil! (In case you were wondering, not making a single midget pun was nearly the death of me. I actually had seizures.)
This is a classic "What in the heck?" cult film. Whether it tickles your funny bone or outright horrifies you is a gauge of your mental health. Though, unfortunately, I am not certain which reaction is the sane one. What keeps me up at night is wondering if you need a special permit to maintain a private stable of midgets. Jed Buell had a herd of midgets, but that was back in the 1930's. There were fewer laws then. Nowadays, I bet that you need a license and stuff.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- In the Old West people tended to stand around singing.
- Midgets do not possess melanin in their skin; instead, they have asbestos.
- You cannot reason with a duck, especially one that is walking backwards.
- Women can eat their own weight in sandwiches and pickled eggs.
- Being shot is always immediately fatal.
- If your beer keg runs out early, there is probably a drunk midget inside.
- Only an expert can tell the difference between a rabies victim and an alcoholic.
- Dynamite looks like a wooden dowel.
- Fuse only burns when you are looking at it.
- 2 mins - Jed Buell's midgets? As in possessive tense. As in he owns them!
- 7 mins - Great shot, Buck. If it wasn't for gravity you might have hit something, like the moon.
- 13 mins - That guy just walked under the saloon doors!
- 18 mins - Penguin?
- 23 mins - Hmmm, the bullet must have gone right through the stagecoach and killed him.
- 32 mins - Who the heck is humming?
- 45 mins - Hasidic midget!
- 51 mins - The subtle humor is that her sequins are really large, because she is a midget! Get it?
- 54 mins - For no reason, Nancy runs under the desk when she leaves the jail.
- Bat Haines: "Here comes Buck Lawson! Hit leather!"
- Pop Lawson: "Seems to me that I smell something that should be buried. Smells mighty like a polecat."
Tex Preston: "Why, you!"
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Announcer: "Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages, we're going to present for your approval a novelty picture with an all midget cast, the first of it's kind ever to be produced. I'm told that it has everything. That is, everything that a western should have. It's a soul stirring drama, a searing saga of the sagebrush, and it's called 'The Terror of Tiny Town.'"
||Sheriff: "Buck, how about riding with the posse?" |
Buck: "I've got an idea that I'd be wasting my time."
Sheriff: "Meaning anything in particular?"
Buck: "No, it just seems that you don't have any luck when you go hunting outlaws."
||Pop Lawson: "This the way you ride the line, lollygagging with one of the Preston breed?" |
Buck: "Dad, she has nothing to do with the quarrel between you and Tex Preston."
Pop Lawson: "She's of the same breed and, man or woman, I won't have one of them on my range."
||Buck: "We both know who killed Tex Preston." |
Bat Haines: "Yeah, but I know who's going to hang for it."
Buck: "Don't bank on that too heavy."
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|The stagecoach is under attack by a bunch of midget outlaws! |
I swear, sometimes it is as if the director filmed my dreams.
| ||Leave a comment||EXTRAS||Buy the movie|| |
|The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #41. Posted on November 07, 2005, 12:19:12 PM by Hari Khari
After watching this movie I killed myself.
|The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #42. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by TinyTownDescendent
Billy Curtis (Buck) was my late Father's uncle. Stian-I just found this on DVD at collectablerecords.com for $5.99. I'm in HEAVEN, and my Christmas shopping is now half done!!!!
Hari-your reaction is completely understandable and quite logical.
|The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #43. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Terri
I watched this film at the cinema in 1966 at the age of 10 years old and it freaked me out giving me a phobia of midgets ever since. Whenever i tell anybody about it they think i'm making it up - i'm almost pleased to find out i wasn't. Now I've found out what it was called do I dare watch it again?
|The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #44. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Midwest Mom
I watched this movie about ten years ago, Could'nt sleep and turned on the tele and it was on public television. I thought it was hillarous. I told my friends about it and they asked me what I had to drink. I remember when watching the movie, it looked like some of the female midgets were dressed up like men. Does anyone know if this is true? Anyways I was pleasantly surprised to find I am not the only one who watched and enjoyed this movie.
|The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #45. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM by jambo171
OH, stop already. I saw it when it first came out (yes, yes, I know. I am old) and I loved it.
And it did slove one problem. Now I know why Dorthy wanted to come back home.
Just a great classic film. Excuse me, I have to go and try to get my tongue out of my cheek.
The Western Forever. Even in a small format
|The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #46. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Caroline
Crazily enough, this is one of my favorite films. Even more crazy, I actually know quite a bit about the cast members. (Yeah, well, I have a lot of spare time.) Jed Buell did, in effect, own his midgets; dwarfs would often perform in singing dancing troupes, billed under the name of their manager. Jed Buell's Midgets wasn't a real troupe, though -- most of the midgets in this film were members of The Singer Midgets, managed by Leo Singer, who a year later was given the contract to procure Munchkins for MGM. (Though the Munchkins were made up of members of many different troupes as well as, well, free-lance midgets, they are credited collectively as The Singer Midgets, when credited at all.) The female midget who performs "You Better Look Out" was actually only thirteen years old in this film, so yes, it is wrong to be attracted to her. But the deep-voiced one in the barbershop was eightteen -- of course, the voice was fake. Most of the cast did go on to appear as Munchkins in 'The Wizard of Oz;' most notably, the devilish bar maid (The Vampire) & Nancy Preston (The Girl) make up two-thirds of the Lullaby League. The only cast members who didn't play Munchkins were the black midgets, because MGM didn't want them. To me that's much more offensive than anything in this film -- a midget's gotta work. As for 'Freaks,' nobody from 'Tiny Town' appeared in it; that is a common misconception. I actually bought this film looking for the midgets from 'Freaks' (Harry & Daisy Earles), but was pleasantly surprised to find such a strange yet engrossing little gem of exploitation cinema.
The DVD is widely available on Amazon Marketplace from a number of different sellers, at very reasonable prices. You can also watch it online for FREE at movieflix.com!!!!!!!
|Re: The Terror of Tiny Town
Posted on July 27, 2007, 09:35:36 PM by Torgo
I think it was on USA 's "Up All Night" that I 1st was subjected to this wonder of cinema. My brain's never been teh same since.
|Re: The Terror of Tiny Town
Ooopppsss!!! Too late! Geroge Lucas has already taken Brugomaster's idea and made it into a film. It's called "Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi."
But, back to the subject. Not that bad of a film. A typical western, except for the midgets. But, certainly, not unwatchable. Which is more than I can say for some films I've seen.
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