Sunday, August 12, 2018

Tom Tyler's Horseshoe Collection

Antique horseshoes, not from Tom's collection
Did you know that Tom Tyler collected horseshoes?

In addition to his hobbies of cabinet making, cooking, and flying, he also saved horseshoes which he purchased or was given since he first expressed interest in them soon after he arrived in Hollywood all the way from Hamtramck, Michigan. An article from Battle Creek Enquirer, Michigan dated November 3, 1928 provides some in-depth information about Tom's horseshoe collection. Tom started collecting horseshoes at the start of his Hollywood career, possibly as a sign of good luck, but also as a way of having some in-depth knowledge about horses and his film work. A horseshoe collection certainly makes for an interesting holiday party topic, during cocktails or dinner. According to the article, Tom had horseshoes dating back to 1840 in his collection. Many times horseshoes of that age can be found in antique shops nowadays, for those who live in the city or suburbia. When he was not busy reading scripts, Tom read diligently on the subject of horseshoes, learning to identify the time period it was made, whether it was made for a filly, buggy horse, or a workhorse, and everything else about horseshoes.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou has taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.
                  -Longfellow 

The Phantom, from Tom's movie "Coyote Trails"
Tom kept his horseshoes mounted in a 10' long display box, with a glass cover, similar to jewelry or coin display boxes frequently seen at antique shows. Tom's display box had a black velvet background, and each horseshoe inside had its own brass tag containing the date, description and origin. With a properly mounted collection like that, it is no wonder that it soon became popular at many horse shows held in southern California. It seems like Tom Tyler appreciated rustic décor, and enjoyed collecting horseshoes, keeping them on display in his house in Hollywood. After all, any actor like Tom Tyler who collects horseshoes for a living must be an interesting individual.

Tom with his horse Tucker in "Battling with Buffalo Bill"


Monday, July 30, 2018

Meet Tom Tyler's FBO directors


Tom Tyler worked with a total of five different directors while under contract with FBO from 1925 to 1929, the majority of them being with Robert De Lacey. Tom clearly worked well with all his directors which can be attested to in his biography, “The Tom Tyler Story” by Mike Chapman. Between 1927 and 1929, Tom had four other directors before resuming work under Robert De Lacey in 1928 with “Tyrant of Red Gulch”. Tom and Robert's last film together was “The Pride of Pawnee” in 1929. Following are some brief biographical notes on these five directors and their careers.

Robert De Lacey was Tom's first director for FBO and helped launch the brand new star into an overnight star. There are two different sources regarding the dates and places of Robert's birth and death: one states he was born February 17, 1898 in Prescott, AZ, and died on July 24, 1943 in Los Angeles, CA, while IMDB states he was born on June 7, 1892 in Illinois, and died on March 3, 1976, in Los Angeles. Robert started his career in Hollywood as a film editor around 1923, and at one point, his wife assisted him in the editing process. The De Lacey couple worked together on “Mighty Lak' a Rose” (1923) for Edwin Carewe's First National Production. Robert's wife soon dropped out of the scene though, but he continued with film editing for "The Bishop of the Ozarks" (1923) for Cosmopolitan Film Company, and “Madonna of the Streets” 1924 made by Edwin Carewe Productions. It appears that Robert made his directorial debut with Tom Tyler, who made his starring debut in “Let's Go Gallagher” (1925). Robert also directed stars like Tom Mix and Patsy Ruth Miller, but by 1930, directed his last film which starred Tom Keene, “Pardon My Gun”. Unfortunately Robert's career in Hollywood seems to have ended around 1930. He was no relation to the blond moppet of silent film, Philippe de Lacy.

James Dugan directed one of two films with Tom Tyler, the first being “The Desert Pirate” in 1927. Prior to that he worked briefly worked as an actor in “Warming Up” (1928), “Night Parade” (1929), “Racket Cheers” (1930), and “Devil and the Deep” (1932). James was born on May 19, 1898 in Los Angeles, CA, and died on August 5, 1937 in Hollywood at the young age of 39 due to heart disease. He directed one other movie starring Tom Tyler, “Phantom of the Range” (1928). Exhibitor's Herald October 8, 1927 states that James was going to be the first director for “When the Law Rides” (1928) but for whatever reason, Robert De Lacey held directing honors for this movie. James started his Hollywood career at the Lasky studio as property man, then as cameraman at Fox studios. In 1927, his wife Patricia gave birth to a daughter, which may explain why his directorial career with Tom was placed on hold, which meant being an assistant director once again for awhile. James also worked as an assistant director in talkies up until his death in 1937, working on movies such as “Goin' to Town” (1935) and “Espionage” (1936).

Frank Howard Clark directed “The Texas Tornado” in 1928, but was probably better remembered for being a screen writer. Born on May 15, 1888 in Pittsburgh, PA, and died on January 19, 1962 in Los Angeles, CA, Frank wrote 130 stories, many for FBO which Tom starred in but also for other actors such as Richard Talmadge, Rex Lease, and Florence Vidor. The stories he wrote or did the screenplay for Tom Tyler are: “Tom's Gang” (1927), “Splitting the Breeze” (1927), “The Desert Pirate” (1927), “The Texas Tornado” (1928), “Phantom of the Range” (1928), “Terror Mountain” (1928), “The Avenging Rider” (1928), “Trail of the Horse Thieves” (1929), “Idaho Red” (1929), and “The Pride of Pawnee” (1929). Frank also co-wrote the famous film serial “The Hazards of Helen” (1914). He only directed a total of three movies, one of which is a silent film short, and seemes to have preferred the writing process to directing. Frank's last story was for “The El Paso Kid” in 1946 starring Sunset Carson.

Louis King directed only one Tom Tyler silent film, “Terror Mountain” (1928). Louis was born on June 28, 1898 in Christianburg, VA and died on September 7, 1962 in Los Angeles, CA. He got his start in Hollywood as a chracter actor, often portraying the heavy in silent film shorts. His acting credits include “The Printer's Devil” (1923) and “Main Street” (1923), but when it came to directing, Louis specialized in westerns during his early silent film years. Louis went on to direct for Fox Films, which includes the movies “Murder in Trinidad” (1934) with Nigel Bruce, and “Charlie Chan in Egypt” (1935) with Rita Hayworth. By 1957, Louis was directing for television, episodes of popular shows that include “Gunsmoke”, “Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color”, “Zane Grey Theatre”, “Death Valley Days”, and “Tales of Wells Fargo”. Sadly, Louis died from injuries relating to a car accident he was involved in during the month of August 1962 while in Oklahoma. His family included wife Mary, two children, Pamela and Richard, and brother Henry King, who was also a Hollywood director and producer.

Wallace Fox also directed only one film, “The Avenging Rider” (1928) which starred Tom Tyler for FBO. Wallace was born on March 9, 1895 in Purcell, OK, and died on June 30, 1958 in Hollywood, CA. He made his directorial debut with “The Bandit's Son” (1927) which starred Bob Steele. He continued to direct for the following production companies: FBO, Pathé, George W. Weeks, RKO, and Universal. “The Avenging Rider” was not the last time Wallace would direct Tom Tyler; the two worked again in “Partners of the Trail” (1931), and later on in “Powdersmoke Range” (1935). Wallace proved to be a talented director, and his career extended through the 1950's. Highlights of his directing career include the 1945 film serial "Brenda Starr, Reporter" which starred Joan Woodbury in the title role. Later on in his career, he directed episodes for the following television shows: "The Gene Autry Show", "Annie Oakley", "The Range Rider", and "Ramar of the Jungle". Wallace was married to Cleo Easton, and uncle to the actress Rita Carewe, who was the daughter of his brother Edwin Carewe. Rita was married to LeRoy Mason, who was the heavy in a number of Tom Tyler silent films, and also in the 1933 Universal film serial “The Phantom of the Air”. Wallace had one more brother in the business, Finis Fox, who was a director and writer. An interesting piece of trivia: Wallace, Edwin and Finis were all registered members of the Chickasaw tribe.






Monday, July 23, 2018

It's not Sleeping Beauty


There is something sexy about Tom Tyler when he is “knocked out” in a movie, ending up in a reclining position. Sometimes it's from a shock of electricity, as in “Adventures of Captain Marvel”, or smacked on the head with the butt of a gun, as in “Tracy Rides”. Not to mention the famous final scene he had in “Powdersmoke Range” where he ends up dying in the arms of Harry Carey, sacrificing his life for his new found friend. And of course, both “Stagecoach” and “The Westerner” capitalize on Tom's final moments in the movies, when he is shot, and ends up on the ground with the camera panning his face, his eyes closed.

One thing is for certain about Tom Tyler: just like the Greek god he was marketed as since his debut of “Let's Go Gallagher” in 1925, he may as well have sprung off a frieze, come to life with his physique and looks. The ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about handsome men and celebrated it like no other ancient culture. Time to get down to business! Here are Tom's best reclining shots:













Sunday, July 22, 2018

Shazam! teaser trailer Zachary Levi

Warner Brothers has finally released a teaser trailer for "Shazam!" and here it is!




Hopefully millenials who see this movie - plus anyone else for that matter - will seek out the original portrayal of Captain Marvel on the silver screen, "Adventures of Captain Marvel", 1941 Republic Pictures film serial!


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.