Terror of Tiny Town, The (1938)

“Here comes Buck Lawson — hit leather!”

Synopsis:
The son (Billy Curtis) of a rancher (John T. Bambury) falls in love with the niece (Yvonne Moray) of his father’s enemy, “Uncle Jim” (Billy Platt). When Jim is shot, Buck (Curtis) is the suspect — but the real killer (‘Little Billy’ Rhodes) is on the loose.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this infamous, decidedly un-p.c. “novelty film” draws upon “every ‘B’ western convention and cliche around”. I disagree with Peary, however, that it’s “no worse than a lot of ‘B’ westerns of the period”: actually, it is, simply because the majority of the all-dwarf cast — who appear to be in the movie because of their size, not for any other reason — are irredeemably bad actors. Yvonne Moray as the central love interest is particularly awful; at a certain point, when she hears that Buck is in trouble, she literally pauses for a second or two before meekly stating (without emotion), “Buck! Oh, Buck!” The sole humor comes from the novelty of the film’s concept, which is mildly amusing at first (yes, it’s funny to see cowboys riding ponies instead of horses, and walking right under saloon doors), but quickly wears thin. On the other hand, this is a movie no hardcore film fanatic can go without sitting through at least once, simply due to its notoriety.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A few mildly amusing puns
    Puns
  • Groaningly bad acting and dialogue
    Acting
  • A bizarre scene in which a giggling bartender drowns himself in beer
    Beer

Must See?
Yes, simply for its cult status.

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One Response to “Terror of Tiny Town, The (1938)”

  1. A once-must for its cult status.

    I would tend to agree with Peary on this one – that ‘TTOTT’ is no worse than similar ‘B’ westerns of the period. It comes off like a sub-par high school production in which everyone has, at least, bothered to learn their lines. I’m not sure if the term ‘politically correct’ applies here: everyone seems to be more than in on the joke and most, if not all, of the cast appear to genuinely be enjoying themselves. (Note the opening pre-screening scene, in which a tall man introduces the film to the audience and two of the cast members enter to bicker about which one has the more important role; it kind of sets the mood that all is in conscious fun.)

    Unlike some other ‘oddity’ cult films – such as the rather-dreary ‘Chained for Life’ – ‘TTOTT’ is not really a chore to sit through. Yes, the acting is not at all the best and it’s occasionally awkward, but the cast seems very aware that they are in a western spoof and that they have a rare opportunity of complete focus on them. The film is reasonably entertaining, its pacing is ok – and, actually, I find the whole thing to be on the cute side.

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