Wednesday, September 18, 2019

More French titles of Tom Tyler films

It has been awhile since a foreign language movie title list has been included in this blog – and after coming across a European movie directory site while in the process of researching something else, felt it was time to continue a list of movies Tom Tyler appeared in – in French. The first list of French movie titles is here. An alternate title for “The Younger Brothers” has been included below. Many thanks to Notre Cinéma for the below titles.

The Grapes of Wrath
King of Alcatraz (1938) - L'Évadé d'Alcatraz
Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) - Sur la piste des Mohawks
Gone With the Wind (1939) - Autant en emporte le vent
Frontier Marshal (1939) - L'Aigle des frontières
The Texas Rangers Ride Again (1940) - Le Retour des Texas Rangers
Buck Privates (1940) - Deux nigauds soldats
The Westerner (1940) - Le Cavalier du désert
The Grapes of Wrath (1940) - Les Raisins de la colère
Border Vigilantes (1941) - Coureurs de frontières
Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) - Les Aventures du Capitaine Marvel
The Phantom (1943) - Le Fantôme
They Were Expendable (1945) - Les Sacrifiés
Never Say Goodbye (1946) - Ne dites jamais adieu
Badman’s Territory (1946) - La Ville des sans-loi
The Three Musketeers (1948) - Les Trois mousquetaires
Red River (1948) - La Rivière Rouge
The Younger Brothers (1948) - Les Trois mousquetaires du Far West/ Le gang des quatre freres
Samson and Delilah (1949) - Samson et Dalila
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) - La Charge héroïque
Lust for Gold (1949) - Le Démon de l'or
The Great Missouri Raid (1951) -  Les Rebelles du Missouri
What Price Glory (1952) - Deux durs à cuire

Red River






























 



Monday, September 9, 2019

It’s in the money: Tom’s salary during his career

A common subject that often arises during a new Hollywood interest is, what kind of money did they make? Was their salary generous? Or were they barely scraping by? In the case of Tom Tyler, it is considered common knowledge among those familiar with his career that he was not an A-list star who commanded top-dollar for his film roles, even though he may have done so, had he had the right business agent.  However, Tom’s priority was his desire to become an actor, since his teen years. Chances are he never gave much though to an ideal salary, what his true worth might be as an actor, despite the fact he was one of the truly best actors in Hollywood during the mid-1920’s to late 1940’s before he became terminally ill with scleroderma.

One of Tom’s first acting jobs was as a Native American in the 1924 Pathé film serial “Leatherstocking” - where he was paid $50.00 a week ($750.00 a week in 2019) according to the article “The Sucker Who Succeeded”  in Motion Picture Classic, July 1928. Billed under his real name of Vincent Markowski, it must have been an ego booster for the young man who traveled all the way from Hamtramck, Michigan only a few years earlier.  At least Tom knew he could finally make money as an actor, and that is all that mattered to him.

When Tom signed a contract with FBO in 1925, his starting salary per week was about $75.00 ($1,100.00 in 2019) according to The Old Corral - a step up from the money he made while filming “Leatherstocking” and doing bit parts in “Three Weeks” (1924) and “Ben Hur” (1925). As Tom continued to make B-westerns for FBO, chances are he got a little bit of increase in pay, but not much, maybe up to $100.00 or so by the time his contract with FBO/RKO ran out in 1929.
According to an article in Variety, August 3, 1927, "...the negative cost of the Tyler westerns is only 20% of [Fred] Thom[p]son's." Thomson was also paid rather generously by FBO in 1925, his contract paying him $10,000.00 a week. Joseph Kennedy sensed an opportunity for both Thomson and himself, selling Thomson out to Paramount, a competing studio. Unfortunately for Fred Thomson, he contracted tetanus and died on December 25, 1928, barely able to make better money, but at the same time, Tom Tyler proved to be a better money maker for FBO before the studio reorganized as RKO for talkies in 1929.

One of Tom’s known representing agents was Jerry G. Mayer, as mentioned in Hollywood Filmograph, December 31, 1932. Jerry was the brother of Louis B. Mayer, and both men had vested interests in Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM). Jerry G. Mayer also had his own production company by 1925, eventually becoming the studio manager for MGM in the mid-1930’s. The Mayer connection made sense, since one of Tom’s first documented film appearances was in the MGM (then called Goldwyn Pictures in the 1920’s) movie, “Three Weeks” in 1924, starring Aileen Pringle. Unfortunately for Tom, who was under contract with Monogram/Trem Carr in the early 1930’s talkies years, having an agent whose priority was with another studio probably did not help his career a whole lot. The other problem was, the star system was still evolving and became implemented in the 1930’s by none other than Louis B. Mayer – Jerry’s brother.  On the other side of that coin, Hollywood was also becoming very political in nature. Who you knew could make or break a movie career, as in the case of John Wayne and director John Ford. It could be that Tom was not interested in the political side of Hollywood,  considering it a job that made him happy, for he certainly loved his work, as Clayton “The Lone Ranger” Moore later attested during the last years of Tom’s life.

It would be a superhero film serial that would provide Tom not only a substantial salary but also a major milestone for his career once his contracts with Reliable and Victory Pictures ran out in the late 1930’s. Clad in a gray and gold leotard for black and white film, Tom Tyler became the World’s Mightiest Mortal in “Adventures of Captain Marvel”, released in 1941. Long considered the greatest serial ever made, Tom was paid $250.00 a week, according to his biography, “The Tom Tyler Story” by Mike Chapman, for a total of $1000.00 ($17,500.00 in 2019) - four weeks worth of working on this famous Republic film serial.

By the time Tom returned to Republic Pictures as one of the Three Mesquiteers in 1941, the first of thirteen movies he made with the famous team being “Outlaws of Cherokee Trail”, his contract was for $150.00 per week ($2,600.00 in 2019) during the first year of movies, according to The Old Corral, which also included “Gauchos of El Dorado” and “West of Cimarron”. In 1942, Tom’s salary increased to $200.00 a week ($3,150.00 in 2019) for the seven movies he made for Republic that year: “Code of the Outlaw”, “Raiders of the Range”, “Westward Ho”,  “The Phantom Plainsmen”, “The Talk of the Town”, “Shadows on the Sage”, and “Valley of Hunted Men”. When Tom Tyler made his last Three Mesquiteers movie in 1943, “Riders of the Rio Grande”, he made $350.00 ($5,191.00 in 2019) a week. On the surface this did not seem like a bad amount of money, and it wasn’t, given the fact Tom was a workhorse and did manage to stay in the business for over twenty years, and perhaps he was hoping the right agent would come along and give him the career boost he would need.

Tom Tyler was not by any means a wealthy actor, but was able to live comfortably during the mid 1920’s to mid-1940’s until his body was in the developing stage of scleroderma. By 1947, when he made only one movie that year, “Cheyenne”, multiple doctor visits between then and the early 1950’s proved costly, leaving him penniless and lack of ability to obtain contracts during the final stages of his illness. Regardless of his salary or his B-western star status, Tom Tyler left behind an impressive body of work to appreciate and remember him well.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Filmed on location at Warner Springs: “The Texas Tornado”

A scene from "The Texas Tornado"
As the only Tom Tyler FBO silent film available on DVD, “The Texas Tornado” may surprise viewers in that it was filmed on location in Warner Springs, California. Located in San Diego County, Warner Springs is an unincorporated community that was home to the Luiseño and Cupeño tribes in southern California. Related to the Cahuilla tribe, a now-abandoned Cupeño village sits on 200 acres east of Lake Henshaw on California State Highway 79. The Cupeño lived in the San Jose Valley Mountains by the San Luis Rey River, and had two villages, one at present-day Warner Springs, the second, at Wilakal, at San Ysidro. Founded in 1844 by Juan Jose Warner, this piece of land is situated at an elevation of 3130 feet, with a smattering of mountains referred to as Lost Valley, part of the Peninsular Ranges in the state. Of these mountains, Hot Springs Mountain, famous for its scenic and beautiful hiking trails, has an elevation of 6535 feet high and is the highest peak in San Diego County. Since 1912, Hot Springs Mountain has had a fire lookout tower which has been modified over the decades, a popular destination of hikers in Warner Springs.

Lost Valley is prominent in “The Texas Tornado” in a number of scenes: where a simulated cliff dwelling (not native, as the Cupeño built and lived in adobe homes on the land) is shown as the hideout for Latimer’s henchmen and their holding of Frankie Darro captive, and the climactic rescue of Frankie by Tom when the gondola breaks, dangling from the cable between the mountains. When “The Texas Tornado” was filmed, the crew and cast were enthusiastic about making the movie in such a beautiful setting, with the non-stop action, fights, and suspense that took place. The fights were so rough and injurious to Tom Tyler’s legs due to Latimer and his henchmen wearing roweled spurs on their boots, that the spurs had to be banned from further film productions. The good news is, Tom was in tip-top shape in 1928 when this silent film was made, for he had won the Los Angeles Athletic Union weightlifting championship, which allowed him to climb over that cable with Frankie clinging on to him for dear life. The one spectacular stunt missing from the existing DVD of “The Texas Tornado” is a fight between Tom and Jack Anthony at the top of a burning oil derrick, resulting in Tom’s escaping by use of a guy wire, again with Frankie hanging on for safety.

For those who exhibit interest in visiting film location sets, Warner Springs is a destination for Tom Tyler fans, as Lone Pine Studios is, to experience walking upon the land where Tom made one of his surviving silent films.





Saturday, August 10, 2019

Storing paper-based film collectibles

Note: This article has been modified from my original article written for Hubpages on October 10, 2017.

ESCO Arcade card from "The Arizona Streak", 1926
For those of you who collect paper-based film memorabilia on Tom Tyler, perhaps some of the most important questions are, “What is the best way to store these? Can I display this item in a frame?” The answer to the first question takes preservation into consideration, and contrary to popular belief, storage materials for film collectibles from the mid-1920’s to the 1940’s are not expensive at all. In fact, acid-free paper envelopes and polyethylene bags are affordable, found in office supply stores, and websites like Amazon. Similar items should always be stored together, such as arcade/exhibit/postcards, lobby cards, film booklets, and film stills. For the ambitious collector, a cataloguing system might also be used to keep track of what is being collected. Regardless if you have only a handful of colorful arcade cards of Tom Tyler, or an extensive film still collection, following is a list of different paper-based film collectibles and the ideal way to store them.

ESCO postcard, "When the Law Rides" 1928
Arcade/Exhibit cards and postcards

These movie collector cards, manufactured by the Chicago Exhibit Supply Company (ESCO), were dispensed through vending machines for a penny each back in the 1920's and 1930's. Western stars were very popular subjects on these cards. Many times film scenes were reproduced on these cards too, especially silent films. Each arcade/exhibit card measured 5.2” x 3.2” in size, about the same size as a postcard produced during the same time period. What makes arcade/exhibit cards stand out is the number of colors a single image would be available in. These cards usually came in duotone; for example, an arcade card of Tom Tyler and Frankie Darro in a scene from “Cyclone of the Range” comes in yellow/orange as well as gray/purple. A very wide range of colors were used to manufacture these cards, which range from red, blue, green, yellow, magenta, lime green, navy, even aqua. A small photo album with acid-free poly sleeves is an ideal way to store these intriguing film collectibles.


Photo of Tom Tyler, 1927
Cigarette, chocolate and biscuit cards

Also referred to as tobacco cards, a number of companies used to produce film star photos on these small cards, using bright colors, although very early cards were produced in black and white. The original purpose of cigarette cards was to provide a stiff package so the product would not get crushed. Cigarette companies like Rothmans (England), Player (England), and Ogden's (England) are just a few names popular among cigarette card collectors. The average size of these cards was usually 2” x 3” in size, sometimes even smaller. Some companies like A & M Wix issued several different sized cards with film stars on them. In addition to cigarette cards, film star cards like those produced by Cloetta, a Swedish candy company, were included in their chocolate products, and similar cards produced by De Beukelaer found in their biscuit (cookie) packages, were very close in card size. Most cigarette cards are stored in baseball card plastic pages, especially those seen at ephemera shows.

Biblioteca Films, "The Man from Death Valley"
Film stills and film star photos

Most film stills and film star publicity photos measure 8” x 10” in size, on glossy photo paper. Those which contain autographs of a star are usually worth a few bucks. Film stills have long been used as marketing tools for recently released films and are sought after by favorite film collectors. Depending upon the age of the film still or publicity photo, there may be a little surface wear, as well as wear along the edges of the photo. There might also be writing along the edge either in pen or pre-printed on the film still to identify which movie it is from. Acid-free plastic sleeves that measure 8 1/2” x 11” in size are an ideal way to store a large collection of film stills. One particular favorite still, or publicity photo, might also be framed and hung on the wall.

Film booklets

Often seen at ephemera shows and in antique shops, film booklets come in a variety of sizes depending upon the publisher, and nation of origin. Basically, a film booklet is a thin publication with a stapled binding, containing a film story. Usually, several film shots are also included in the publication. One of the most popular film booklets in English is Boy's Cinema, published in the UK from 1919 to 1940 and contained several film stories, often profiling one film on the front cover. Spy films, war dramas, and westerns were favorite genres for this publication. An issue of Boy's Cinema measures 7 1/2” x 10 7/8” in size. Another popular film booklet was Biblioteca Films, published in Barcelona, Spain. In this case, each issue was devoted to an entire movie, with the film title in Spanish. For example, the film booklet for “Galloping Thru”, a 1931 Tom Tyler talkie, translates as “Deuda de Sangre”. These film booklets measure 4 3/4” x 6 7/8” in size, smaller than Boy's Cinema.
Lobby card for "Honor of the Mounted" 1932
Spain also came out with a series of western film booklets, Los Films del Far-West, numbered in a series. Other examples of film booklets also include Photo Aventures, in French, similar to the Biblioteca Films, and Film-Kurier, in German. Like film stills, 8 1/2” x 11” acid free clear plastic binder sleeves are the ideal way to store film booklets. If a film booklet is starting to separate from its binding, or the paper is frail and crumbles when touched, it can also be stored in an acid-free envelope that is 5” x 7” in size.

Lobby cards

Lobby cards produced in the United States measure a standard 11” x 14” in size, although cards produced before 1930 also measured 8” x 10”. Usually produced in a series of eight, these lobby cards were displayed in the lobby of movie theatres across the country.
One sheet, "Tracy Rides" 1935
Nowadays, Tom Tyler silent film lobby cards can have a market value of $300.00 to $500.00, depending upon the movie. Older lobby cards may have thin paper base, which is prone to tearing due to its age. Lobby cards that are in excellent shape without any tears along the edge can be displayed in a frame; more fragile ones not in use can be stored in an 11” x 14” Itoya portfolio book.

One sheets, half sheets, and larger posters

Probably the most popular popular sized movie poster being produced today is the one sheet. Measuring 27” x 40” in size, these are easily displayable in a frame; when they are not is use they can be rolled up and stored inside a polyethylene bag that covers the entire poster. Other movie poster sizes include the following: insert (14” x 36”), window card (14” x 22”), half sheet (22” x 28”), two sheet (41” x 54”), three sheet (41” x 81”), six sheet (81” x 81”), and twenty-four sheet (246” x 108”). If you have the wall space for one of these larger posters, then display in a frame is the perfect choice; if not, they should be stored rolled inside a polyethylene bag the width of the poster.

www.archivalmethods.com




Saturday, July 27, 2019

Collectibles: Tom Tyler on the Picturegoer series postcards

Among the movie cards manufactured in Europe, Picturegoer series postcards was one of the most popular sets to come out of England, next to the Boys Cinema cards. Printed in London, England, these postcards used a real photograph of an actor on the front, with the writing space and address on the reverse. The Picturegoer company began manufacturing movie memorabilia in 1921 to 1960. Not only did they produce more than 6500 postcards bearing real photos of actors and actresses, the company also published a number of consumer film magazines: Picturegoer Magazine, Film Weekly, Picture Show, and Film Pictorial.

The Picturegoer postcard which have photos of Tom Tyler on the front date from the 1930’s to 1940’s. These postcards have a glossy surface, and measure 3 1/2” by 5 1/2” in size. The photographs are in black and white, with the star’s name at the bottom of each postcard, and the name of the film production or distribution company in the lower right corner in the white border framing each photo.
There are four known cards on which Tom Tyler appeared: cards numbered 381, 381a, 381b, and 828.

Card number 381 depicts a very young Tom Tyler with his hair slicked down, the image itself dating to around 1925. There is no film production name on this card.

Picturegoer postcard #381

Card 381a has a photo of Tom, probably from “Phantom of the Air”, dressed in his aviator’s uniform and scarf. This postcard has the film company Universal in the lower right hand corner.

Picturegoer postcard #381a

Card 381b has a photo of Tom with his horse, probably from “Partners of the Trail” (1931), with the British release company listed as Wardour, in the lower right hand corner of the card. The horse is light colored, and the harness, plus Tom’s outfit, match the description in this lost film.

Picturegoer postcard #381b

Card 828 has a photo of Tom dressed in his frequent early 1940’s western clothes, facing right, with the name Republic at the lower right corner of the card, from one of the Three Mesquiteers movies.

Picturegoer postcard #828









Sunday, July 14, 2019

Happy 100th Anniversary of your acting lessons, Tom!

Tom Tyler, circa 1925

As the year 2020 approaches, the year marks a special milestone in the life of Tom Tyler. Believe it or not, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary that Vincent (Wincenty) Markowski began a correspondence course in acting through Johnson Screen Training School at the age of 17 in 1920, according to the article "The Sucker Who Succeeded", Motion Picture Classic, July 1928. Taking his career seriously, Vincent worked hard, driving a truck and transporting cans of film to local cinemas where he lived in Hamtramck, Michigan. Young Vincent was an enthusiastic worker, clearly loved being able to get his foot in the door of the movie business. Upon the completion of the acting course, Johnson Screen Training School sent Vincent a letter, which also served as a certificate to verify that Vincent did indeed complete the course, with all assignments completed, including the correct application of actor’s makeup. It is unknown exactly how many lessons total that Vincent was required to take, an estimated guess would be between ten to twelve lessons, meaning that the course could easily be completed within a couple of months.


It would not be until 1923 when Vincent, then aged 20 years old, would leave his home town with his close friend Emil Karkoski, and the fifty dollars that Vincent’s sister loaned him for the trip. According to “The Tom Tyler Story” by Mike Chapman, when the two young men arrived in Denver, Colorado, Emil decided to return home to his family, while Vincent trudged on, with his continuing enthusiasm and courage, never failing to believe in himself. There is the possibility that Vincent was also aware he did not have much time to achieve his specific goal, having died during his fiftieth year due to complications from scleroderma. With time moving as quickly as it does for some of us, it will not be long before the 100th anniversary of Tom Tyler’s debut as a leading man for FBO in 1925 will be celebrated.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Say it isn’t so: Censorship in “The Law of the Plains”

It would be difficult for the modern Tom Tyler fan to consider the case of censorship, or even the need for it, in one of his starring roles movies. What might be an even bigger challenge is to think it could happen in one of Tom’s later silent films made for Syndicate Pictures – yet it did, and Bell Pictures Inc., the distributor (New York City), was forced to remove a few frames from the final print of “The Law of the Plains”, released in 1929.

“The Law of the Plains” is the only Syndicate Pictures silent film on which there is scant information; next to nothing at Lantern Media History, and a bare mention in major newspapers outside of cast members and very brief plot description. In fact, Natalie Joyce, Tom’s leading lady in the movie, is not given a character name, not even at IMDB. Consequently, composing the story line for “The Law of the Plains” page of Aventuras de Tom Tyler proved to be the most challenging of all Tom Tyler silent films, most of which have a wealth of information on them, including the many lost silent films he starred in. A routine inquiry was sent to the Library of Congress about plot information, and they were extremely accommodating and helpful, even leading me to put an inquiry at the New York State Archives, which holds many records on silent films – and “The Law of the Plains” happened to be one of them. Upon the recent receipt of a photocopy of the record for this silent film, some rather interesting information was included, a tidbit that would make a fantastic piece of trivia among Tom Tyler fans and later 1920’s silent film western fans.

It seems that upon the final screening of “The Law of the Plains” by the State of New York Education Department, Motion Picture Division, which granted exhibition licenses (a license to show the movie at cinemas) a request was made to Bell Pictures Inc. to remove the frame from the first reel of the film where Limpy (possibly, Al Ferguson, who is referred to a “Gang Leader” at IMDB) swats at a fly which landed on his face – and utters a curse word. There is no reference to the actual curse word in the photocopy record, aptly labeled as “Indecent”; unfortunately, neither is there a mention of all cast members and their characters, outside of Tom Tyler being mentioned. Since Tom’s silent film westerns have always been considered family- and children-friendly, any lip movements that mimic a curse word had to be removed. Once this change was made, the film reel was sent back for review by the examiners at the Motion Picture Division and declared appropriate for exhibition.

While on the subject of archival records on silent films, one other interesting piece of information stood out: in 1929, it cost $3.00 per 1000 lineal feet of film to acquire a license to exhibit the silent film. So with the five reels of 35mm, the total cost for the exhibition license in 1929 was $15.00 – or $225.00 in the year 2019.

Obviously no one would be able to see the Limpy character make the curse word in “The Law of the Plains” but not because the film does not exist; four of the five reels are at the Library of Congress, and one of those happens to be the first reel – the reel designated as needing a modification before the film could be granted a license for exhibition at cinemas across the United States. Hopefully, “The Law of the Plains” will seek restoration within the next few years.

A huge thank you to the New York State Archives in Albany for their help in providing the above information FOC (free of charge), and of course the Library of Congress, who has always been a pleasure to deal with when it comes to my research of Tom Tyler and his work.