3.8/10
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46 user 28 critic

The Terror of Tiny Town (1938)

Approved | | Western | 1 December 1938 (USA)
An evil gunslinging midget comes to terrorize the good little people of Tiny Town. The townspeople organize to defeat him, and zany antics ensue

Director:

Sam Newfield

Writers:

Fred Myton (original screenplay), Clarence Marks (added dialogue)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Billy Curtis ... The Hero (Buck Lawson)
Yvonne Moray Yvonne Moray ... The Girl (Nancy Preston)
'Little Billy' Rhodes 'Little Billy' Rhodes ... The Villain (Bat Haines) (as Little Billy)
Billy Platt Billy Platt ... The Rich Uncle (Jim 'Tex' Preston) (as Bill Platt)
John T. Bambury John T. Bambury ... The Ranch Owner (Pop Lawson) (as John Bambury)
Joseph Herbst Joseph Herbst ... The Sheriff
Charles Becker Charles Becker ... The Cook (Otto)
Nita Krebs Nita Krebs ... The Vampire (Nita, the dance hall girl)
George Ministeri George Ministeri ... The Blacksmith (Armstrong)
Karl 'Karchy' Kosiczky ... The Barber (Sammy) (as Karl Casitzky)
Fern Formica Fern Formica ... Diamond Dolly (as Johnnie Fern)
William H. O'Docharty William H. O'Docharty ... The Old Soak (as W.H. O'Docharty)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jed Buell's Midgets Jed Buell's Midgets
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Storyline

An evil gunslinging midget comes to terrorize the good little people of Tiny Town. The townspeople organize to defeat him, and zany antics ensue Written by Lleij Schwartz <lleijs@hopper.unh.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

LIttle guys with big guns!

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 December 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cücelerin Korkunc Sehri See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$100,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Jed Buell Productions See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie was referenced in the television series MASH season 8 titled "Morale Victory". Klinger complains that it's the only movie he can get his hands on. See more »

Goofs

When Haines arrives at Preston's ranch, he ties his horse securely to the hitching rail. When he leaves a minute later, he mounts his untied horse. See more »

Quotes

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 to ever be produced. I'm told that it has everything, that is everything that a western should have.
See more »

Connections

Featured in TCM Underground: The Terror of Tiny Town (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Tex and Mex From Old Bar X
Written by Walter G. Samuels and Charles Newman
See more »

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User Reviews

Sold Short
14 February 2010 | by tedgSee all my reviews

I watched this in preparation for Herzog's dwarf film. He requires some time in the wilderness.

In the early 30's there were some precode films that copied already established genres but with toddlers playing the roles. I commented on two: "War Babies" and "Runt Pages." Recently, I saw "Baby Geniuses," which borrowed heavily in spirit — but without the sex jokes.

This is also modeled in a way on those, but is schizophrenic.

It was the same year that "Wizard of Oz," used little people in a serious way to introduce the distorted magic of Oz. (This was before we could rely on Dr Suess.) Nearly all of these actors were in that scene, with its grueling shoot. The actual story is played almost perfectly straight. A standard script is used: cowboy romance, "Romeo and Juliette" family feud and romance, cattle rustling, corrupt sheriff, barroom moll... the whole works. These actors and the director take the movie seriously.

On the other hand, a different director managed the musical numbers. There are a half dozen, and the novelty of little people is played to the hilt, using some actual children I think where cuteness is required. The shift in stance is radical. You can see that distributor realized that they had a problem, so here is what they did:

At the beginning, an announcer comes on "stage" to announce that we would see a "novelty picture" with "midgets." A one of a kind, first ever, he effuses. But he is interrupted by the actor playing the hero, who assures him that the movie is not a novelty but a real film. Then he and the film's villain engage in a bit of scripted verbal slapping that someone thought was a successful synthesis of worlds.

Here's what interests me: mainstream movies have only a few seconds to work with the viewer to establish where what the world is they are entering and where they stand in it. It is critical to the success of a film that this is right. It is why genres are so strong film; there is no relief from the moving forward of the narrative. Big films today can do that by showing a synopsis of the whole movie in the long trailers we have. And title sequences have become extremely effective: an art in itself.

By here in 1938, they took those few precious minutes for this strange dialog.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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