Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The National Film Registry

With the deadline to submit film nominations for this year's National Film Registry list is coming up fast – the date is September 15, 2018 -– I thought it might be worth taking the time to create a list of movies in this registry that Tom Tyler appeared in, regardless of the size of his role. There are a total of five movies, and I have included the year they were inducted into the National Film Registry.

The Grapes of Wrath 1940 – Inducted in 1989
Gone with the Wind 1939 – Inducted in 1989
Red River 1948 – Inducted in 1990
Stagecoach 1939 – Inducted in 1995
Ben Hur 1925 – Inducted in 1997

“Gone with the Wind” is probably the most famous movie in this list, with “Stagecoach” setting the standard for the modern western. “Ben Hur” was just one of a a few silent films where Tom was a stuntman chariot driver, and not even known as Tom Tyler yet. Of course, of these five movies, “Stagecoach” has Tom in front of the camera the longest, where he turns in a stellar performance as Luke Plummer. Should the National Film Registry and Tom Tyler's name ever pop up at the same time at a dinner or cocktail party, there is not only enough to discuss but also impress.

Hopefully, with the 2019 release of the movie “Shazam!”, “Adventures of Captain Marvel” (1941) will be one of the inducted titles in the National Film Registry.


Tom Tyler in "Stagecoach", 1929



Sunday, September 9, 2018

Poem: Sundown Saunders

This poem is titled "Sundown Saunders" and originally appeared in Rope and Wire, April 25, 2015. Inspired by the 1935 film by RKO, "Powdersmoke Range", this poem has been reprinted by kind permission from its poet, Miss Julie Kovacs.



Sundown Saunders


He was the ally of the Three Mesquiteers
Out of the blue when they needed a friend
who was always honest and never broke a promise
(He looked a lot like Tom Tyler)
Always a gentleman even with his steely gaze
and ready hand on his pistol.

He was the fastest shooter in town
always at sundown
never turning back
yet always hopeful
to rendezvous one day with his long-distance gal
wearing her favorite green plaid shirt just for him.






Thursday, September 6, 2018

Lost in translation: How “Tyrant of Red Gulch” became “The Sorcerer” across the pond

From Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, January 24, 1930
A number of blog articles here have explored the subject of Tom Tyler film titles and translations into other languages: Spanish, French, German, Polish, and Dutch. What has not been explored, are Tom's western films released under different titles in other English-majority speaking nations, such as the United Kingdom. Indeed, it would seem unusual for one of Tom's B-westerns to be released under a much different title, but that is what happened to his silent film “Tyrant of Red Gulch” (1928); across the pond, it was released as “The Sorcerer”. This title seems to be peculiar at first glance; by itself without any mention of who stars in it, suggests a non-western, perhaps something that might bring to mind a scene or two from “Jack the Giant Killer” (1962) or“Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” (1958), which have sorcerers in them. Tom Tyler however is not like Torin Thatcher
in these films which are best known for their Claymation special effects and fantasy themes. What should be mentioned about “The Sorcerer” is this particular title aligns closely with the original title for “Tyrant of Red Gulch”, which was “Valley of Superstition”. In Spain, the movie was released as “El Valle del Misterio”. Another interesting note about “The Sorcerer” is the following: it is listed in Tom Tyler's filmography in the 2003 comic book, Tom Tyler Tales by Calvin Castine, Sid Couchey, and Art Monaco but not as an alternative title to “Tyrant of Red Gulch”.

Like other movies which undergo a title release change, the first thing that is looked at is the plot. In “Tyrant of Red Gulch”, the story takes
place in the foothills of the Rockies, with Tom as the itinerant cowboy in search of a friend who meets up with a young lady named Mitza (Josephine Borio), and her brother, Tip (Frankie Darro). The actual tyrant of the region is named Ivan Petrovitch (Harry Woods), and Tom first encounters this foreigner when he catches the man beating a small boy, rescues the child then pummels Ivan. Ivan acknowledges to having met his physical match, and invites Tom with Tip and Mitza for a horseback ride through the mountains. Tom however gets ambushed, is separated from his new friends and must rescue them after they are taken in by Ivan and his henchman, Boris Kosloff (Serge Temoff). Held prisoner in a cave in the mountains, Tom manages to free himself, and risks his life in order to set his friends free, including the one he originally set out to look for. In addition to that, Tom also discovers the gold mine that Ivan was hoarding, and returns the stolen wealth to the small community. As “The Sorcerer”, Ivan is a diabolical terror, sinister, and very manipulative, leading our hero into an unexpected trap from which lies an uncertain escape.

There are a few interesting factors that come into play here: the heavy has an obvious Russian sounding name, while two members of the cast were foreign born: Josephine Borio was born in Turin, Italy, and Serge (Sergei) Temoff was born in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China. A cinema ad from Palladium Item, Richmond, IN, September 6, 1929 provides the tagline for “Tyrant of Red Gulch”, "A story of a mysterious terror - of unseen death and unerring vengeance". While Ivan appears to have the upper hand in the story, Tom and Frankie have just as many tricks up their sleeve in order to counter the forces they are up against. Magic themes aside, the battle between good and evil continues in this western mystery, whether it is known as “Valley of Superstition”, “Tyrant of Red Gulch” - or “The Sorcerer.”




Monday, August 20, 2018

Oscar winning movies that Tom Tyler appeared in

Stagecoach
While Tom Tyler was never an Oscar nominee (the closest performance that would qualify is as Luke Plummer in “Stagecoach”), he did in fact appear in a number of Oscar-winning films in a support role. Some movies that he made were Oscar nominees, like “San Antonio” and “Talk of the Town”. Not surprisingly, three of these Oscar winners had John Ford directing: “Stagecoach”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, and “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.” Here are the six Oscar-winning movies Tom Tyler appeared in:

Stagecoach 1939
Directed by: John Ford
Winner: Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Music, Scoring

Gone with the Wind 1939
Directed by: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood
Winner: For outstanding achievement in the use of color for the enhancement of dramatic mood (honorary), Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Writing, Screenplay, Best Cinematography – Color, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, For pioneering in the use of coordinated equipment in the production (technical)

The Grapes of Wrath 1940
Directed by: John Ford
Winner: Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Director

The Westerner
The Westerner 1940
Directed by: William Wyle
Winner: Best Actor in a Supporting Role

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon 1949
Directed by: John Ford
Winner: Best Cinematography, Color

Samson and Delilah 1949
Directed by: Cecil B. DeMille
Winner: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration – Color, Best Costume Design - Color


She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

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: