Friday, July 13, 2018

Silent film unmade reverted: From “Cow Punching for Cupid” to “Tom and His Pals”


Over a year ago back in May 2017 I wrote this blog article on Tom Tyler called “Silent Films Unmade”. There was in fact a clipping from The Film Daily August 20, 1926 included in the article which surprisingly enough, turned out to be the key in identifying an existing Tom Tyler film.

The title in question was “Cow Punching for Cupid”, starring Doris Hill, Leroy Mason, Dick Brandon, Frankie Darro, and directed by Robert DeLacey. This cast perfectly matched that of “Tom and His Pals”, also released in 1926. To compare the two images below – a film still titled “Tom and His Pals” we see the checkered tablecloth with people sitting at it, with the one from Exhibitor's Herald, September 11, 1926, plus the small picture behind Tom and Frankie on the wall to the one in the still on the far left. So it seems like “Tom and His Pals” was a last minute title change for whatever reason. Motion Picture News for 1926 lists “Cow Punching for Cupid” as the silent film's original title release so who knows – maybe Tom knows the reason for the title change when we don't.



Exhibitor's Herald, September 11, 1926


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Tom Tyler's shirts: The secret is in the zipper

"Fast Bullets" - note the side zipper!

Have you ever wondered how Tom Tyler managed to wear his shirts so well?

While he certainly kept fit on a regular basis during the 1930's through weightlifting, the real marvel of his onscreen wardrobe was how his shirts managed to fit him like a glove. Since Tom had a perfect torso, having shirts that fit so perfectly was no problem, whether they were front button-down shirts or the pullover shirts he periodically wore. Like all other actors and actresses, a tailor would take the physical measurements, and match the ideal wardrobe according to the film genre and story. Tom had
two different long-sleeved pullover styles in his wardrobe; one was black with white trim and a laced bow at the throat, the other one, white with black trim and laced bow.

"Cheyenne Rides Again" - the zipper once again
Tom often had to change clothes several times throughout one film, particularly if he got dirty from rolling around on the western soil when fistfighting a small group of men. Once that shirt got dirty, Tom switched into his pullover shirt. This shirt was worn in “Pinto Rustlers”, “Mystery Range”, “Cheyenne Rides Again”, “Coyote Trails”, “Terror of the Plains”, and “Fast Bullets”, to name a few movies made during the 1930's. The most notable thing about this shirt, however, was visible whenever Tom raised his left arm from his side: a zipper that ran from a few inches below his armpit to the bottom hem of the shirt. This zipper did not just help mold Tom's marvelous torso, though; it was also functional in helping him get in and out of it with ease, especially when he was given only a few minutes to change clothes in between scenes being shot. Unlike the button-down shirts, which sometimes came undone – a button slipping loose from its matching hole – there was no similar concern with the zippered shirts that Tom wore so well.

"Ridin' Thru" - the second button from the bottom came undone


Thursday, June 28, 2018

“Ridin' Thru” classic Tom Tyler B-western


Up until November 30, 2017, “Ridin' Thru” was previously only offered through Sinister Cinema when Alpha Video released it on DVD as part of a double feature also includes “The Fighting Trooper” (1934) starring Kermit Maynard, the brother of western actor Ken Maynard. While it is always nice to see a competitive source offer the same movie, what differentiates the Alpha Video version is that it was made from a brown-tinted print of the movie.

Tom Tyler is Tom Saunders, an itinerant cowboy whose trail partner is Ben (Ben Corbett), traveling on their way to their next job at Elmer “Dad” Brooks (Lafe McKee) ranch. Brooks' ranch is in financial trouble and while he would like to sell some of his horses to pay the bills, he can't because his livestock is being stolen out from under his nose. The movie opens with a magnificent white stallion nodding his head as he stands upon a cliff, as he does at several points throughout the film, perhaps more as an acknowledgement of his handsomeness rather than as a sign he is a horse thief. When Tom and Ben arrive at the ranch they discover it has been transformed into a dude ranch so that Brooks could make some money to pay his bills. Once they get hired for the job by an unrelenting foreman by the name of Winthrop (Philo McCullough), Tom and Ben discover what has been happening with the horses – and are requested by Brooks to find out who is behind the entire operation. While Tom is providing the brainpower to trap the horse thieves, he falls in love with Dolores (Ruth Hiatt), the niece of “Dad” Brooks.

There is no shortage of friction between Tom and Dolores when they first meet, which continues throughout the story. The first time is when she is having a picnic with a friend named Myra and Tom decides to move her car away from where it was parked; next, when Tom exits her house and spills a drink she was carrying on a tray right onto her dress. Dolores never loses a moment to make a disparaging remark at Tom: calling him a chump, a big ninny, then eventually thinking he really is dumb, and finds Tom to be too far beneath her. Yet the chump comment occurs during one of the funnier moments of the film; Dolores asks Tom to help her onto her horse, and he does, placing his hand on her behind as he lifts her into the saddle. Regardless of how Dolores treats Tom, he is still the perfect gentleman, even rescuing her when she is on horseback and her horse suddenly sees the white stallion and takes off after it. Tom swoops her up in his big strong right arm while on his own horse and gently sets her down on the ground before fetching some water from a nearby creek to splash on her. By then though Dolores is gone, having left with Winthrop, who she thinks was the man who rescued her.

Despite the way Tom feels, he cannot help but wonder why she even bothers with him; for instance, dancing with him at a costumed ball on the ranch which all of the guests attend. She acknowledges Tom's aid in tracking down the horse thieves for her uncle, but has no emotional connection with Tom. He would like to be more than just friends with her but even at that level he fails. Dolores relents though, and when Tom honestly tells her that she is a peach, not a pill, her hopes are raised if only but a notch.

Hot on the trail of closing in on the horse thieves, Tom and Ben find themselves framed by Winthrop, captured, and tied up on a remote part of the ranch. Blackie, Tom's horse, chews through the ropes binding them like the smart horse that he is, freeing Tom. As soon as three of the culprits appear from beyond a barn Tom fistfights them – all three men at once. Tom finally gets a confession from Winthrop, and with the case wrapped up, gets ready to leave the ranch with his pal Ben. Before they part, Dolores executes a perfect Mae West imitation, even looking like her, as she asks Tom “Why don't you come back and see me sometime”. At that point Tom and Dolores have finally made up, as they exchange a kiss.

Like Tom Tyler, Ruth Hiatt was also a former silent film actress born in 1906, three years after Tom, and is on a par with his acting talent and looks. Bud Osborne plays the sheriff, another alumni of Tom's films which date back to his late silent films such as “Call of the Desert” (1930). Directed by Harry S Webb (as Henri Samuels), the written story is credited to actress Carol Shandrew (she played a role in Tom's film “Tracy Rides” as the daughter of a sheep herder) and Rose Gordon even though the plot has been recycled from an earlier film, “The Phantom of the Desert” (1930) starring Jack Perrin. It is possible that these two ladies names were credited due to a studio quota at the time. The stallion closely resembles the one who starred in “Coyote Trails” (1935), another Tom Tyler film. The western scenery is beautiful, and “Ridin' Thru” was popular enough to warrant a full-color portrait of Tom as he looked and dressed in this movie in exchange for a dozen Dixie cup lids.

With Alpha Video still issuing Tom Tyler films, they seem to be the most likely DVD distributor to issue any further movies of his that continue to be found.










Saturday, June 16, 2018

Tom's favorite roles


One of the most commonly asked questions of a Hollywood celebrity in an interview is their favorite movie filmed, plus their general attitudes about their own work. Tom Tyler loved his work and obviously loved all the roles he played, no matter what movie it was, whether it was a starring role or supporting role. It is perhaps for that reason why it has been difficult to find any information that answers the above question, as there are no extensive interviews with Tom Tyler in the papers. However, there are a few early sources that might hint at which movies he thought were his very best, ones which he favored the most.

For example, Tom claims that “Wild to Go” was one of his best movies, if only for the fact he got to enjoy the company of many pretty young girls and not just one leading lady (it should be remembered that Tom was much closer to his two sisters Katherine and Molly in real life than he was to his two brothers), and it is safe to say he felt comfortable enough around women yet not be a “ladies man” type. Considering how Tom phrased it, maybe “Wild to Go” was also a personal favorite of his, and luckily, this is one of his silent films made for FBO which has survived and is housed at Cinematek in Brussels, Belgium.

It is yet unknown if Tom particularly favored his critically acclaimed role in “Stagecoach”, or even as the comic book superheroes Captain Marvel or The Phantom. If he did, he was probably a little quiet about it, either out of his shyness, or maybe even modesty, for he was no braggart in Hollywood. Tom knew he was physically very strong, capable of many feats as the film scripts demanded, just as well as having the talent to turn in a top-notch performance, no matter what type of role he was in.


Saturday, June 2, 2018

Just plain Tom

As Tom Hall in "Fighting Hero"

For the person newly introduced to Tom Tyler's work in westerns of the 1930's which are plentiful on the market, the majority of his film character names remains the same as his adopted one – Tom. Having come a long way from being Vincent Markowski, Tom Tyler probably never dreamed he would be a big enough Hollywood icon to go by his first name alone in the many movies he made. Since his professional name was tailored after the silent film star Tom Mix to some degree – many of Mix's screen characters were also named Tom – one other feature both Tom Tyler and Tom Mix share is this: their earliest character names were completely different from their own, with a few exceptions. Tom Mix had the character name of Tom in a number of silent film shorts in the early 1910's, such as “The Telltale Knife” (1911) and “The Scapegoat” (1912). In a way this naming practice set the standard for new silent film western stars, such as Hoot Gibson, Buck Jones, and Tom Tyler.

As Tom Gallagher
Once he was selected as the new western star for FBO, his first starring role being “Let's Go Gallagher”, Tom Tyler appeared onscreen as Tom Gallagher, a hard-fighting youth who finds himself caught in a whirlwind of adventure. Such a memorable debut caught the public's eye quickly enough, for soon Tom appeared in successive movies bearing character names such as Phil Stone (The Wyoming Wildcat), Dennis Terhune (Born to Battle 1926), Dandy Carrell (The Arizona Streak) and Jerry McGill (The Cowboy Cop). For the rest of the year 1926 and into 1927, Tom's onscreen names were always Tom but a different, simple last name, and by the time he finished his contract with FBO, sixteen of the silent films he starred in had the character name of Tom. Surprisingly enough, none of the eight movies Tom made for Syndicate directed by J. P. McGowan had character names of Tom; each one was totally different, such as Rex Carson in “Call of the Desert.”

Unlike Tom Mix, who made eleven movies in the 1930's, Tom Tyler made 47 movies during that decade where he had the starring role, already long established as an icon himself. For it did not matter if any one of his given movies saw him as Tom or some other name in the story. Tom Tyler was a highly recognizable star on the silver screen, if not for his distinctive looks and voice, for his low-key persona which made him a true favorite of many an American family.

As Tom Corrigan in "The Desert Pirate"


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Buck Moon Trail, Part 3

Note: This is the third part of a series of fan fiction. Please keep in mind that outside of the primary character, Tom Tyler, all others are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Screencaps are from Tom's movies and are used simply as visuals. With the usual disclaimer aside, if you would like to link back to this story and need help doing so, please contact me at aventurasdetomtyler@triggertom.com. Thank you and enjoy the story! 


Supper that night might have been mundane as last night's had Julie not been thinking about Joe's conversation with her earlier. When the time came for her to help feed Tom, who remained in the covered wagon all bundled up, peering out the back and feeling the warmth of the campfire, her movements might not have felt so forced. Julie lovingly held a bowl of hot stew, and spoon fed Tom, occasionally offering him a vegetable or bite of bread. At least his stomach was able to hold down some nourishing food. Plus, Julie felt a lot safer sitting next to Tom for supper than she did with any of the other men, although she did not know why.

“Was that good?” Julie asked Tom, as he finished the last drop of a second bowl of stew. Tom dabbed the left corner of his mouth with a green cloth napkin.

“It was delicious. Thank you, Julie.” Tom's face was close to her own and she looked into his amber eyes. Almost golden, she thought to herself. Pupils visible, eyes that sometimes seemed darker from Tom's left side when the light cast onto it. Now Julie smiled, her lips parted slightly, dropped a tiny kiss on his forehead. All of a sudden she forgot what happened over an hour ago, and started to fall into Tom. A warmth spread over her and it wasn't from the campfire; it melted away her worries, her troubles.

“You're welcome, Tom.” Julie picked up the other end of the blanket Tom left unused, and wrapped it around her shoulder. Tom's eyes widened and he smiled at her. “Do you have any idea how good you are for me?” she asked him.

Tom burst out laughing. “I may as well have asked you the same thing!” he replied, his nose touching her face. They both laughed merrily, a laughter that drowned out the chit-chat of Joe and the other men on the other side of the campfire. Julie felt Tom's arm around her, his big strong hand on her left shoulder. His touch was gentle, yet friendly and protective, like that of a sibling. For the first time during their trip across the country, Julie felt content for the first time. It could have been the first hour of darkness that helped, while the embers of the campfire started to burn down. Every single ember Julie watched go out, matched a part of her past which died out completely. Why would she be worried about such insignificant things anyways, when Tom's health meant so much more to her anyways? She breathed out and shut her eyes. Tom must have noticed because he looked at her expressionless face, which slowly grew back into one of a happy love.

Julie thought to her herself, 'There is just no way I am in love with a man like Tom. It's impossible. It cannot happen. It cannot happen to me. Why? HOW do these things happen?' Her eyes remained closed.  “If you only knew...” she began, her soft words trailing off into the dark of night.

Tom raised his eyebrows before producing a closed-lip smile. His eyes studied her face, taking in her translucent skin and pale pink lips. “I care about you too, Julie. You're just like a sister to me.” At that moment Julie's eyes opened wide before she burst out laughing, loud enough for the men outside the wagon to hear her, also startling Tom.

“Where's my flask?” Julie screamed, thrusting her right hand into her cotton purse and yanked it out, almost tearing the fabric. Tom's eyes widened at her while she took a deep swig. Julie's eyes closed once again and right before she was ready to pass out, a sharp bolt of lighting hit the land close by. It seemed to come out of nowhere, for no rain could be heard falling from the sky. The skies were clear after all when the troupe entered Missouri. Yet something changed, which made Julie think there something more than just a disturbance in the atmosphere. For her, it was a feeling, something that should not exist, something she had to overcome, whether she was drunk or not. 'Ignore it', Julie told herself. 'Just ignore it.' She wanted to scream but did not, could not, perhaps due to Tom's making a resigned sigh before turning over on his side, an indication he wanted to sleep.

“Goodnight Julie,” Tom softy called to her. He wanted to say something about her drinking before bedtime but figured it was useless. His only hope was that she was sober by the time they arrived at their destination. The distant whirring of cicadas lulled Tom to sleep but kept Julie awake. She finally got up, as tipsy as she was, climbed out of the back of the wagon and started walking away from the camp. Joe and the other two men were asleep in their sleeping bags under the stars in front of the wagon, so she did not have to
worry about one of them waking up and following her. Julie kept going on, walking into the night going by the light of the moon. Not really thinking, she found an outcropping of rocks, and sat down by them. Encrusted with mica and quartz, the moonlight seemed to make the rocks wink at her and beckon, as she ran her fingers over them. Pulling out her flask once more, Julie took a final swig and passed out, crawling underneath the shallow ledge of the upper rock. The thunder started up once again only this time, approached closer, and the darkness of night soon turned yellow, drowned out by the sound of rain falling.

To be continued...

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Update on Aventuras de Tom Tyler website


By now regular visitors have noticed a change to the homepage of Aventuras de Tom Tyler. There are two reasons behind this: the code needs to be brought up to date for 2018, and due to the volume of material on the site, for aesthetics. Nothing will be lost or removed; if anything, more will be added, particularly regarding the types of roles Tom Tyler played on film. Those four animated stars on the homepage, courtesy of CSS3 code, will have links for each one of them: Cowboys, Superheroes, Movie monsters, Dramatic Roles.

Also – because a number of Tom's “lost films” have surfaces in the past several years, there will be a stress on the need to restore and digitize them (the list thus far consists of: “Jungle Mystery”, “The Man from Nevada”, “The Man from New Mexico”, “Lightning Lariats”, “Cyclone of the Range”,

Tom's non-FBO silent films made for Syndicate Pictures and directed by J. P. McGowan are most likely to be found here in the states; his FBO films, in Europe, active centers being Spain, Russia, Belgium, Netherlands. This is not say an FBO film won't pop up in another European nation; it primarily depends on how thorough a film archive documents what it holds, not to mention the constant influx of donated collections. A film archive operates like a museum; film collectors donate their collections, items are accessioned, the condition of the donated items evaluated (35mm prints from the silent film era usually take priority due to their unstable nature, being made from nitrate which is highy flammable), entered into their database (most professional archives utilize PastPerfect, a software database created just for museums, libraries, film archives), and so on.

In the meantime, the main website is still fully functional, any kinks in the code will eventually be worked out, and enjoy all regular updates there and of course on the blog.