Friday, May 17, 2013

#1,005. The Terror of Tiny Town (1938)

Directed By: Sam Newfield

Starring: Billy Curtis, Yvonne Moray, 'Little Billy' Rhodes

Tag line: "Little Guys with Big Guns!"

Trivia: Many of the performers in this film also appeared in The Wizard of Oz

The Terror of Tiny Town is a lot like Werner Herzog’s Even Dwarfs Started Small in that it’s set in a world inhabited only by little people. But, unlike Herzog’s film, The Terror of Tiny Town is also considered one of the worst movies ever made.

Bat Haines (Little Billy Rhodes) is the film’s heavy, and he spends most of the movie trying to spark a feud between two neighboring ranchers, Pop Lawson (John T. Bambury) and Jim Preston (Billy Platt). It isn't long before the Lawsons and Prestons are at each other’s throat, but things get a bit more complicated when Buck Lawson (Billy Curtis) falls for Preston’s niece, Nancy (Yvonne Moray), and tries to bring an end to the dispute that’s tearing the two families apart. Needless to say, Bat is none too happy about this, and, in an effort to stop him, frames Buck for murder.

The Terror of Tiny Town certainly lives up to its reputation as the strangest western/musical ever produced. For one, despite the fact all the townsfolk are of diminutive stature, every building, sidewalk, and piece of furniture in town was built for someone of average height. Otto (Charles Becker), who works as the Preston’s cook, can barely reach the top of the stove, and whenever a rider ties his horse up, he walks under the hitching post as opposed to around it. I say “horse”, but in reality, the characters in The Terror of Tiny Town ride Shetland ponies, some of which clearly weren’t accustomed to life in the wild west (during a gunfight, several ponies rear back in fear whenever a shot rings out). Then, of course, there are the moments of unintentional hilarity, like when the entire saloon breaks into song, singing "Mr. Jack and Mrs. Jill", during which one patron tries to drink an enormous glass of beer and nearly drowns before he gets to the bottom of it!

The Terror of Tiny Town has a lot in common with movies like Plan Nine from Outer Space and Eegah in that, no matter how terrible the film is, it's always fun to watch. The Terror of Tiny Town is, indeed, very bad, and that’s what makes it so darn good!

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