Friday, December 14, 2018

Collectibles: Tom Tyler on Biblioteca Films card

Biblioteca Films, the popular Spanish-language film booklet series published by Gato Negro in Barcelona, Spain, also manufactured a set of collector cards bearing many Hollywood stars as well as European stars. It is unknown if these cards were distributed along with a film booklet, as in the way the British Boy’s Cinema cards were done so, or if these were made available separately for collectors of film memorabilia.

Each Biblioteca Films card is 3 3/4” x 5 3/4” in size, about the size of a postcard, but of paper-thin quality. Some of the cards in the series had an ornate border surrounding the star’s face, while others, like the Tom Tyler card, had plain, straight-edged borders. The backs were blank. Each card was monochrome in color; however, there were at least four different colors issued, with only one star per color. For example, the Tom Tyler card is antique brown in color, while the card for Aileen Pringle is red. The other two colors were black/white, and sienna. There were at least 600 cards in the series, distributed over the 1920’s and 1930’s, into the 1940’s. Each card bore the number at the upper right corner and the star’s name below the image. The number on the Tom Tyler card is 166.

Other stars who appeared on the Biblioteca Films cards are: Virginia Valli, Al Jolson, Katherine Hepburn, Douglas Fairbanks, Constance Talmadge, and Roy D'Arcy.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

“Stagecoach” 1939 part of TCM’s National Film Registry showtimes

This December 2018, Turner Classic Movies will be showing “Stagecoach” (1939) as part of its National Film Registry selections. While Tom Tyler was not the star of the movie – that title was reserved for John Wayne – Tom turned in the most compelling performance which has been critically acclaimed over the years since its release in 1939.

TCM host Alicia Malone will introduce the five National Film Registry selections starting the night of Tuesday, December 11, with the special showings continuing on Wednesday, December 12. Even for those of you who have seen “Stagecoach” multiple times or even know the movie by heart, there is something special about seeing the movie on TCM as part of an important showing – it is considered to be the greatest western of its time.

Finally, on December 12, host Leonard Maltin and Dr. Carla Hayden of the Library of Congress will reveal the list of films added to the National Film Registry for 2018.

Please check your television listings for the actual time of “Stagecoach” - enjoy the show!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Aventuras de Tom Tyler: Celebrating four years

Now moving into its fourth year, Aventuras de Tom Tyler remains proactive in tracking down Tom Tyler's lost films and seeking to have them restored and digitized.

The letter writing process in itself is time consuming when it comes to finding these lost films, as is the overall maintenance and present restructuring of this website. There is a reason for the recreation of the silent film pages; prior to Lantern Media History and Newspapers.com, it was next to impossible to find plot information about Tom's FBO silent films. The Library of Congress maintains and updates its list of found lost films annually, which is referred to as soon as it is available. The LOC American Silent Feature Film Survival Database is also a valuable tool and one of the first referred to in the early stages of this website. Since the inception of "Aventuras de Tom Tyler", more of Tom Tyler's lost films have been popping up. Our goal for 2019; to see these existing silent films restored and digitized. Following is the list of previously lost films:

Existing Tom Tyler FBO silent films and their archival locations:

The Wyoming Wildcat (1925) There is a 35mm print at Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium
Born to Battle (1926) There is a 35mm print at Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium
Wild to Go (1926) There is a 35mm print at Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium
The Cowboy Cop (1926) There is a 16mm duplicate negative print is archives at EYE, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Masquerade Bandit (1926) There is a 35mm print at Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium
The Arizona Streak (1926) There is a 35mm print at Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium
Born to Battle (1926) Three 35mm prints exist as follows: The Library of Congress, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archive, Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique
Cyclone of the Range (1927) There is a 35mm print at Filmoteca Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain
The Flying U Ranch (1927) There is a 35mm print at Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium
The Phantom of the Range (1928) There is a 35mm print at Instituto Valenciano De Cinematografia in Valencia, Spain
Terror Mountain (1928) There is a 35mm print at Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium
Lightning Lariats (1927) There is a 35mm print at Gosfilmofond in Moscow, Russia
The Avenging Rider (1928) There is a 35mm fragment at Gosfilmofond in Moscow, Russia

All of the above titles are under RKO copyright; restoration/distribution by Turner Home Entertainment/Warner Brothers.

Existing Syndicate Pictures silent films and their locations:

The Man from Nevada (1928) one print is at Museum of Modern Art, New York; the second, at USC The Hugh Hefner Moving Picture Archive, CA
Pioneers of the West (1928) is owned by a private collector

Existing Trem Carr talkies:

The Man from New Mexico (1932) There is a 35mm print at George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY

Existing Universal film serials:

Jungle Mystery (1932) (has been restored; needs to be digitized and on DVD for consumer market)
Clancy of the Mounted (1933) All 12 chapters are at British Film Institute, London, UK

Lost Syndicate Pictures silent films:

The Law of the Plains (1929)
The Phantom Rider (1929)
The Lone Horseman (1929)
'Neath Western Skies (1929)

Lost Trem Carr talkies:

The Man from Death Valley (1931)
Partners of the Trail (1931)
Galloping Thru (1931)
Vanishing Men (1932)

Special Cases:

Tom's Gang (1927) There was a 35mm print at Filmoteca Española, Madrid but no longer is in their collection, and there is no record of its deaccessioning.

While "The Texas Tornado" (1928) exists on DVD (Sinister Cinema), one reel from the original print is missing; a complete 35mm print is at British Film Institute, London, UK.

While "Two Fisted Justice" (1931) exists on DVD (Sinister Cinema), one reel is missing; a more complete 16mm print is at UCLA.


Please note that all film archives listed have in fact been verified as holding the above named silent films, plus "The Man from New Mexico".

A final note to all readers of this blog post: please share this post across your social media accounts, your websites (please link to this original article!), to any film collectors you know who might hold one of these lost film titles in their collections, anyone you know who is connected with the preservation departments at Turner Home Entertainment/Warner Brothers or Universal, anyone who may be interested in restoration/digitization of Tom Tyler's public domain films. It has been a long time in coming for Tom Tyler's lost films to be given a chance at survival, restoration and digitization.



Saturday, November 10, 2018

Tom Tyler at Lone Pine Studios

The city of Lone Pine, California is located in the Alabama Hills, adjoining the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range. Sometimes referred to as the Alabamas, this part of Owens Valley is the original “God’s Country”, and breathtaking to view, its rugged beauty perfect for filming any type of movie there. For almost a hundred years, this majestic land has attracted Hollywood filmmakers; of the seven movies filmed here that Tom Tyler appeared in, only one was a non-western, “Samson and Delilah” (1949). From a geologic standpoint, this region is diverse, containing enormous granites, glaciers, faults, and earthquakes which create a changing landscape over time. The Alabama Hills are the result of an earthquake that took place back in 1872. From a distance, one can marvel at the red and purple hued mountains with their snowy peaks climbing past the clouds. The highest peak of the Alabamas is 5,354 feet, the terrain a challenge to navigate. More often than not, filmmaking cast and crew had to travel on horseback and caravan during the early years of movies made at Lone Pine Studios. The first movie filmed at Lone Pine was “The Round-Up” (1920) starring Roscoe Arbuckle and Wallace Beery.

The Phantom of the Range 1936
Tom’s first movie filmed at Lone Pine Studios was “Splitting the Breeze” (1927), and the cast and entire filming crew spent three weeks there for the filming of “Splitting the Breeze”. All members got to travel on horseback and caravan throughout the rocky region. As an interesting piece of trivia: “Splitting the Breeze” was shown to a group of budding screenwriters at Columbia University in New York and encouraged to compose a story for Tom's next FBO film. Unfortunately “Splitting the Breeze” remains a lost silent film. Two more starring roles for Tom filmed at Lone Pine were “The Phantom of the Range” (1936) and “Rip Roarin’ Buckaroo” (1936), followed by minor and bit roles, mostly westerns.

Rip Roarin' Buckaroo 1936
Nowadays Lone Pine also serves as a recreational area for camping, hiking and other outdoor activities, in addition to filmmaking. There is also a museum, Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine which contains a rich history  that all fans of westerns will appreciate. The Lone Pine Film Festival is held every October around Columbus Day, showcasing movies and is open to the public.

Following is the complete list of films Tom Tyler appeared in which were made at Lone Pine Studios:

Splitting the Breeze 1927
The Phantom of the Range 1936
Rip Roarin’ Buckaroo 1936
Light of Western Stars 1940
Border Vigilantes 1941
Masked Raiders 1949
Samson and Delilah 1949

Light of the Western Stars 1940


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Brazilian Portuguese titles of Tom Tyler films

Cinearte April 4, 1928
As with Spain and Hungary, Brazil has a fond spot for Tom Tyler in its film history and his association with the American west. Not to mention the idealized hero that Tom was so well known for portraying on screen. Special attention is given to Captain Marvel and The Phantom, the two superheroes Tom played in film serials, given the popularity of American comic book culture in Brazil. For example, an article on The Phantom as a superhero appeared in O Estado de São Paulo, July 18, 1996 and another full page article on the DVD release of the film serial appeared in O Estado de São Paulo, July 31, 2004. Another article on Captain Marvel appeared in O Estado de São Paulo, June 23, 2001. So while Brazil may seem far away, it is in fact very close to home when it comes to American film and popular culture icons like Tom Tyler. The publication Cinearte is one of Brazil’s most popular film magazines, and is well known for publishing photos of the stars which are not often seen in United States publications – a few examples are included with this article. Some of Tom's silent films were shown well into the 1930's in Brazil, such as “The Avenging Rider” and “Pioneers of the West”. It remains unknown if any of these silent films exist in Brazil, if they do, they may be in the hands of a private collector. With thanks to Adorocinema and Biblioteca Nacional Digital Brasil, here is a list of Tom Tyler films in Brazilian Portuguese:

Cinearte, June 6, 1928. Flying U Ranch.

Silent films:

The Cherokee Kid (1927) – Odio de muitos annos

The Texas Tornado (1928) – Astucia contra a lei

The Avenging Rider (1928) – Cavalheiro da vingança

The Man from Nevada (1928) – O gigante da floresta

Tyrant of Red Gulch (1928) – O tyranno da sierra madre

Pioneers of the West (1929) – Desafiando a morte/Gente do oeste

The Pride of Pawnee (1929) – O Braço Protector

The Law of the Plains (1929) – A coruja negra

'Neath Western Skies (1929) – Ce'o de fogo

The Call of the Desert (1930) – Deserto Sangrento

Canyon of Missing Men (1930) – A emboscada vermelha



Talkies:

Partners of the Trail (1931) – O caminho da violencia

Fighting Hero (1934) – Amor e dever

Terror of the Plains (1934) – O terror das planicies

Mystery Ranch (1934) – Estancia dos mysterios

Tracy Rides (1935) – O cavalleiro da lei

The Silver Bullet (1935) – A bala de prata

Powdersmoke Range (1935) – Duelo de valentes

Unconquered Bandit (1935) – Bandido invencivel

Ridin' On (1936) – Tiroteio infernal

The Phantom of the Range (1936) – Thesouro occulto

Cheyenne Rides Again (1937) – Pontaria fatal

King of Alcatraz (1938) –  O tyranno de Alcatraz

Stagecoach (1939) – No tempo das diligencias

The Night Riders (1939) – Os três camaradas

Brother Orchid (1940) – Irmão orchidea

The Mummy’s Hand (1940) – A mão de múmia

Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) – O invencível Capitão Marvel

Talk of the Town (1942) – E a vida continua

The Phantom (1943) – O Fantasma

San Antonio (1945) – Cidade sem lei

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) – Legião Invencível

I Shot Jesse James (1949) – Eu matei Jesse James





Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Mummy’s Hand: Tom Tyler the movie monster

‘Tis the season for a Tom Tyler horror film, even though he starred in only one of this genre, “The Mummy’s Hand”. Playing a movie monster is a demanding role, often requiring many hours of sitting perfectly still in the makeup chair, as Tom had to, appearing as a 3000 year old mummy, having been buried alive as a punishment for having stolen the sacred tanna leaves which guarantee immortality.

It certainly took a lot of makeup to make Tom Tyler look ugly and scary at the same time. His facial profile was perfect for the mummification process, his classic nose and strong jawline showing off nicely beneath the makeup. It was Tom’s stature and physique that made him so intimidating as a movie monster, though, muscular arms with big hands stretched out when he walked, Tom appeared as if he was going to attack anyone who got in his way – and he did, as the script required.

Jack Pierce was Tom’s makeup man, and it took a total of six hours every morning to apply the makeup on the filming days when Tom’s role required him to be in front of a camera. According to an article in The Morning Call, Allentown, PA, June 18, 1940, the makeup procedure was described as following: thin slivers of cotton were placed on Tom’s face, neck and hands, followed with saturation of the cotton with spirit gum, creating the wrinkles in Tom’s skin. Once the solution dried, Pierce then painted Tom with a grisly gray paint, then flecked with clay particles. When it came to Tom’s natural dark brown hair, Pierce rubbed clay and glue to make it look like gray plaster, as if it was artistically carved by one of the Masters. The dry clay on the hair and scalp was really uncomfortable for Tom, often creating an itchy sensation which could not be resolved.
Sometimes he did ask Pierce if he could have a smoke, to help him relax during the process. Being laden beneath the heavy makeup and restrictive bandages meant that Tom could only work a total of three hours a day due to the increasing discomfort of being in costume. For a super scary special effect, Tom’s eyes were “blacked out” using a camera technique in some scenes which made him even more frightening: seemingly liquid eyes that shone in the dark, moving like ocean waters being forced apart to reveal a monstrous form of sea life. Once filming for the day ended, it took an hour and a half to remove the makeup from Tom, and Jack Pierce dissolved the face makeup in acetone, which could not have been good for Tom, given its nature to burn sensitive areas like the nasal passages, eyes and lips. Hopefully Tom washed his face afterwards with soap and water to neutralize the effect of acetone, which is more commonly used in removing nail polish.

When the time came to eat lunch after sitting in the makeup chair, Tom often ate with Pierce, for the rest of the crew and cast could not watch Tom, looking truly hideous in his mummy makeup, while conversing and eating. What actor or actress would want to risk throwing up while filming on the set? But Tom Tyler being himself, would never make a fellow actor or actress feel uncomfortable to the point of nausea as the result of his monster makeup.

Outside of a few grunts, Tom’s role as the mummy had no spoken dialogue, and in the first chapter of the movie he is seen as the living Pharaoh Kharis, minus the monster makeup but wearing full Egyptian regalia from head to toe. In the story, Kharis’ tongue is removed before he is wrapped in bandages, his face slowly disappearing under the white cotton strips while his eyes were wide open in shock, the last time the viewer sees Tom Tyler’s natural face before the magical transformation of mummification. As with “Stagecoach”, the powerful expressions that Tom conveys in “The Mummy’s Hand” are worthy of being critically acclaimed. When it comes to knocking off victims in the movie, all it takes is one hand wrapped around a man’s neck to strangle him, an act pulled off very realistically by Tom.

One can only guess that Tom Tyler was both curious and thrilled about being part of Hollywood’s movie monster history, for by the time he was filming “The Mummy’s Hand” he was not yet cast as a superhero; he was a B-western leading man. No doubt he enjoyed getting to make the female lead, Peggy Moran, faint when her eyes fell upon him at first sight when she awoke from being asleep in the tent and being carried off to his tomb in the mountain. It is not quite as romantic as being swept off her feet while Tom is on horseback, as Tom did with many a leading lady, but such a scene remains something to boast about during his versatile film career.





Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Hungarian titles of Tom Tyler movies

Stagecoach 1939
Now we travel to Hungary to discover how popular Tom Tyler’s movies were in this country, keeping in mind that during the height of his career, Hungary was a kingdom. Royalty aside, there was still plenty of wide open space in the southern part of the country where boys learned to ride horseback sometimes before they learned to walk. That Hungarians are masters of horseback riding seems to be a given, what with their proud heritage when they traveled in that manner from east of the Ural mountain range down to the Carpathian basin and settled in the territory known as Hungary. In Hungarian, the word pustza means steppe, or a plain, and there were many plains which the Hungarian ancestors rode upon. There is even a folk song about cowboys in Hungary:

On the pustza I was born,
On the pustza I dwell,

I have no roof above my head.
But I have a horse that can jump fences,
And I am a cowboy of the plains.

Without saddle I can ride,
And my way leads where we choose,
I need no reins to guide my steed,
For I am a cowboy of the plains.

On the pustza I was born,
On the pustza I dwell.

Delmagyarorszag, April 22, 1948
With this natural love of cowboys it seems inevitable the Hungarians would have a special affinity for American western films and of course Tom Tyler. A number of the film titles listed below are from Délmagyarország, published in Szeged, Hungary. One rather amusing literal movie title translation for “Texas Tornado” (1928), or “Texas sárkány”, is “Texas Dragon”. Some of the cinema ads advertised two Tom Tyler films playing back to back, a rarity in European cinema. With thanks to Hungaricana and Port.hu, here are some Hungarian titles of Tom Tyler films:

Silent films:

The Texas Tornado (1928) – Texasi sárkány
The Law of the Plains (1928) – Küzdelem az igazságért
Trail of the Horse Thieves (1929) –  Fekete keselyü

Talkies:

A Rider of the Plains (1931) – A préri réme
Two Fisted Justice (1931) –  A félelmetes lovas
Jungle Mystery (1932) –  Zungu
The Phantom of the Range (1936) –  Az ördög árok kincse
The Feud of the Trail (1937)  –  A nagy szikla titka
Stagecoach (1939) –  Hatosfogat

The Westerner (1940) –  Ember a láthatáron
The Mummys Hand (1941) – A Mumia Bosszúja
Talk of the Town (1942)  –  A csintalan úriember
Red River (1948)  – Vörös folyó
Blood on the Moon (1948) – Véres hold
The Younger Brothers (1949)  –  A fiatalabb fivérek
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) – Sárga szalagot viselt

The Mummy's Hand 1941