"What’s on the telly then?" "Looks like a penguin."
Well howdy b-movie freaks! Long time no see, eh? Yeah, it sucks when life gets in the way of our fun. I had plenty of real world stuff to take care of the last three months. Holidays, family, friends, work – and an extended winter get-away vacation shack-up with the lovely web-footed girl ‘o my dreams Miss Ida Sue Cooter!
One fine evening when we were asparkin’ by the fire, as Ida Sue would say in that cute little lispy twang of her’s, she asked me why I have not reviewed a western. Yep, the Cuter Cooter (one of my pet names for her) loves horse operas. What can I say, she just digs big sweaty dirty unshaven stinky half-drunk dudes who wear a lot of leather. Pretty dang lucky for me huh! I told her, as I applied aloe enriched rosewood scented massage oil and anti fungal ointment to her cute little duck feet, that I do like westerns, especially spaghettis, but that there were so many to choose from that I did not know where to begin. I reminded her that any western I review would also have to fit within my b-movie definition.
Well, she just smiled that devilish smile of her’s and fixed me with a knowing stare. That took a couple of minutes cause she had to force her lazy eye over toward me. Then she purred, “I got jest tha thang for youins!”
The Terror of Tiny Town
Universal, 1938, 62 minutes
Billy Curtis, Little Billy, Yvonne Moray, Nita Krebs and the rest of ‘Jed Buell’s Midgets’
Taxonomy: All midget singing cowboy flick.
Plot: The white hat good guy has to stop a range war and get the black hat bad guy all while falling in love and pickin’ and singin’ up a storm!
Bluntly: If you love weird movies or simply must see every ’30s singing cowboy movie ever made you will have fun. If not – run!
The Terror of Tiny Town has pretty much the same plot as many other horse operas. The only thing different is the gimmick of an all midget cast. Now before anyone gets their undies in a bunch over me using the term midgets, understand that the movie refers to the lil’ folks by that term and so, for simplicity’s sake, will I. In fact the credits list the cast as ‘Jed Buell’s Midgets’. Buell was the producer of this blockbuster. Don’t feel sorry for the wee people, many – if not all – of them went on to play munchkins in The Wizard of Oz.
So, the black hat villain Batt Hains (Little Billy) starts a range war between the Lawsons and their neighbors the Prestons by stealing and killing cattle and playing each family against the other. The white hat hero Buck Lawson (Billy Curtis) tries to figure out who is the real rustler and prevent his father Pop Lawson and Tex Preston from resorting to violence. While this is going on Buck meets and falls in love with Nancy Preston (Yvonne Moray), Tex Preston’s niece who comes to live with Tex after a family tragedy.
Batt Hains is a bad man. You can tell because he wears a black hat! Okay, he also has a gang of thugs working for him, a hideout, owns the town sheriff (who is an ex-con!), and uses his hot little saloon singer girlfriend Nita (Nita Krebs – who is listed in the credits as “The Vampire”?) to spy for him.
Buck Lawson is a fine upstanding young man who keeps his head while all those around him are going ‘loco’, is always respectful of his elders, is chivalrous to women and picks a guitar and sings in a fine dubbed voice.
Buck eventually gets Tex Preston to agree to meet his father in town to talk things over. Batt sees this and shoots Tex dead – from the hip at a range of about 50 yards! He then promptly rides to the Preston ranch and tells everybody that Buck killed Tex. Batt also starts making a play for Nancy. Batt and his gang drag Buck into jail and make preparations to hang him, but the sheriff finds his backbone and tells Batt he won’t let them lynch Buck. Batt kills the sheriff.
Nancy, Pop Lawson and his men break Buck out of jail and Buck rides off to confront Batt at his hideout. Unbeknownst to Batt or Buck, Nita has lit the very long fuse on a bundle of dynamite that just happened to be in Batt’s hideout (!?) and hidden the bomb under the floorboards. You see, Nita found out about Batt slinkin’ up to Nancy and decided she would fix his two-timing hide!
Well, Buck and Batt get in a rather long fist fight, where they manage to knock over just about every piece of furniture in the cabin – all in sped up film so that the fight looks fast and furious! At one point the two of them end up wrestling in a bunk! What is this a midget version of Brokeback Mountain? Anyway, Buck manages to knock out Batt long enough to run out of the cabin after being warned by Nancy who just showed up with the posse. Just as Batt is drawing a bead on Buck’s back with his pistol – BOOM!
So, Buck saved the day and gets to look at Nancy all lovey-dovey. The end.
Of course all of this is just a sub-plot. The real story of the film concerns Tex Preston’s cook Otto and his relentless and very unfunny attempts to get Fritz the duck into the oven for dinner. A couple of scenes are wasted on this boring slapstick and we never even get to see what finally happened to Fritz! What a letdown!
The fact that everybody in the cast is a midget is constantly driven home through the use of short humor. All of the actors ride Shetland ponies despite the fact that in the opening scene the blacksmith is shoeing a normal sized horse.
Number of times people walk under…
Hitching posts: 9
Saloon door: 3 ( some of the taller midgets have to push it open – dang!)
Also, Otto is seen crawling into various cabinets in his kitchen.
Nancy, thinking Buck killed her uncle Tex, pulls a normal sized gun on Buck that looks like a freaking cannon compared to the prop guns the others use! It also looks like it might be a bit too heavy for her!
The bartender chugs two huge beers (in other words, standard sized beers) while Nita sings a song. He cheats though – he clearly sputters and gasps twice during the chug. For the second beer, the footage of the first chug is simply repeated. Clearly this guy did not attend The Ohio State University.
Babeage: Nita is the only lady in the cast I would call attractive, but, well when she pranced around in her sequin dress she kind of reminded me of Jon Bene Ramsey. Ida Sue’s comment, “Eeewwwww!”
Sleazeploitation: There is no getting around it, this flick is all exploitation. “Look! They’re midgets! Hee, hee, hee! Haw, haw haw! Midgets is funny!”
Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: The entire cast. Okay, okay! Sorry about that! I’m sure all the midgets were fine people. However, I am doubtful that all of the people in the movie were actually midgets. One lady who plays the piano in the saloon looks larger than the others and kind of out of proportion. Was she a dwarf? Or perhaps simply a portly petite ‘normal’ woman? And during the barber shop number we get to see double exploitation – a black midget! Additionally, there is a guy who sits in a chair reading a newspaper who joins in the singing with an obviously dubbed bass voice who I think must have been a child. Oh and there is a penguin in the barber shop.
Violence: A couple of guys get shot. There are some fisticuffs. But perhaps the best scene is when Nita confronts Batt and tells him she knows he is making a play for Nancy. Batt punches her in the face knocking her to the floor in the middle of the saloon! So she blows him up. Seems fair.
Gore and FX: Well when the cowboys are riding and fighting the film is sped up to make the action look fast. I guess that is an effect. Batt’s hideout blows up real good. No gore to speak of, but when Buck saves the run away coach that Nancy and some uppity easterner guy are on, he drives it into town with Nancy sitting next to him on the coachman’s bench and the eastern guy has to ride inside – with the dead bodies of the coachmen!
The dialog is dominated by dumb short jokes and idiotic cowpoke talk.
Batt: “Someday I’ll be the biggest man in the county!” “Everybody chin up to the bar!” “I’m the toughest hombre that ever drew lead!” “Here comes Buck Lawson! Hit leather!” “Don’t you see the dynamite, ya loco maverick!”
Two ladies gossiping in town: “I never though Mrs. Clancy could be so small!”
Pop Lawson and Tex Preston when they here of the other’s rustling: “Why that low-down coyote!”
Pop Lawson when he sees Tex Preston in the barber shop: “Smells mighty like a polecat!”
Tex Preston on his current financial situation: “I’m bein’ rustled poor!”
Nancy plans to meet Buck on the sly while out riding. She tells Otto to make her up a lunch of 6 sandwiches, some boiled eggs, pickles and 2 pieces of cake! “I get such an appetite when I ride.”
Buck: “A range war is like rolling a rock down a mountain – easy to start, but mighty hard to stop.” “If only folks would use common sense instead of gunsmoke.”
Pop Lawson’s reaction to Buck’s romance with Nancy: “If you favor my enemies, you ain’t my son!”
The sheriff’s dying words: ” Looks like I’m at the end of my trail.”
Moral: It takes a big man to do what’s right. Get it? Big man? Har, har har!
The credits call this flick, ‘A rollikin’, rootin’, tootin’, shootin’, drama of the great outdoors!’ That it is! It is also a freakish, fantastic, silly, dumb, exploitation classic of pint sized cowpokes and their womanfolk all of whom sing in helium high voices! If you are a true b-movie fan you have to see The Terror of Tinytown at least once if for no other reason than to be able to say you have seen it! Even the non-b-movie fan can get a laugh or two out of it, but it may also scar you for life! Ida Sue, you amaze me yet again!
A Tale Better Left Untold
Bard’s Tale Beer, Dragon’s Gold Golden Sorghum Lager is produced by Flying Bison Brewing Company, Buffalo, NY. This beer is specifically made for people who have allergic reactions to gluten and other wheat products.
ABV: IBU: Don’t know, don’t care!
Color: Cloudy slightly amber color.
A faint suggestion of hops, kind of stinky, borders on skunky. A noticeable vegetable aroma.
Slight nonpersistent large bubbled head that quickly dissolves and leaves odd circular patterns on the surface of the beer.
Usually when I try a new beer, I cool it quite well by putting it in the freezer for about 30 minutes prior to drinking. I do this because I like to see how the characteristics change as the beer goes from nearly ice cold to nearly room temperature. Most beers have an ideal temperature range where they should be drunk, but my way yields interesting results and also ensures that I do not drink my brews too fast.
So, when I first tried Bard’s Tale it was almost ice cold. It had very little taste at that temperature and I was not impressed. Then as it warmed up the true nature of Bard’s Tale became more and more apparent. In a work – YUCK! The vegetable sorghum taste is frankly offensive as is the skunky smell. This beer is not sweet or bitter, it is sour. Not a good sour, more like a rotten green bean casserole left in the fridge since Thanksgiving and forgotten until it was removed for health reasons kind of sour.
I love beer and I love bread, so I feel sorry for those who are allergic to wheat products. After tasting Bard’s Tale I feel absolute pity for these poor folks.
Recommendation: Run away screaming and inform all those you pass that this shit must be disposed of buy a qualified hazardous material disposal team.
Lord! That stuff almost made me doubt the glory of beer. I needed some inspiration, so I headed to http://www.ebaumsworld.com/flash/beerisgood.html
Well, that’s all for now folks! Hope you like the new format. I hope to be able to post on a fairly regular basis from now on – but you never know. Ida Sue just might change my plans!
Remember, comments, questions, suggestions and requests always welcome.