Thursday, December 28, 2017

Sundown Saunders: A man who never breaks his word

Being a gun for hire is not always what it is cracked up to be, as the one Sundown Saunders is in “Powdersmoke Range”(1935). Maybe it is because Tom Tyler's role demands that he be vicious and unforgiving, acted in a dramatic manner but not too over the top. Sandwiched between “A Rider of the Plains” (1931) and “Stagecoach” (1939), “Powdersmoke Range” remains one of the top three of Tom's performances in a western, from that decade, if only because his role is essential to the plot's development. From the opening scene of the movie where the main players are seated in their acting chairs, to the climactic range war, Tom delivers the best performance in the movie, despite being up against some of the biggest names in B-westerns of the mid-1930's: Harry Carey, Hoot Gibson, Guinn “Big Boy” Williams, and Bob Steele. The first three actors on the list portray the Three Mesquiteers, while Bob is Jeff Ferguson, also known as The Guadalupe Kid, a close friend of the trio. Unlike “Stagecoach” (1939), all five actors including Tom himself have firmly established backgrounds as leading men in silent film. Needless to say, Tom as usual held his own quite well in this star-studded B-western from RKO. It is worth noting that most of scripted interaction he has is with Harry Carey, who portrays Tucson Smith, and the onscreen chemistry between them is what really adds substance to “Powdersmoke Range” with its common western theme of cattle rustlers and gunslinging.

Written by William Colt MacDonald (the screenplay is by Adele Buffington), “Powdersmoke Range” is about a crooked saloon owner who also happens to be a cattle rustler and ranch deed thief named Steve Ogden (Sam Hardy). Ogden confiscates the livestock and deed to the ranch belonging to the Three Mesquiteers and their friend Jeff Ferguson (Bob Steele), also known as he Guadalupe Kid. To make matters worse, the town deputy, Glascow (Adrian Morris) is in cahoots with Ogden. The Three Mesquiteers fight to get their property back, but not without a fight from Sundown Saunders, hired by Ogden to engage Tucson Smith (Carey) in a duel at sundown.

The opening credits of “Powdersmoke Range” depict the main players are seated in their chairs, backs to the camera, their names clearly printed on the back of each chair, introduce their faces with some personality: the heroic, craggy face of Harry Carey; Hoot Gibson taking a bite from an apple; Guinn “Big Boy” Williams spitting in a classy manner; and Tom Tyler, slowly turning his head, eyes narrowed, eyebrow raised with a “don't give a” expression. Tom comes across as being a tough, lean, mean, fighting machine whether it is in armed or unarmed combat. As Sundown Saunders, Tom delivers a memorable performance on film; in the Big Little Book of “Powdersmoke Range” (Whitman Publishing, Racine, WI: 1935) Sundown is described as a “tall dark man in a black hat...His face was lean and stern. His eyes were dark, cruel slits under his hat brim.” (pp. 98-100) This highly collectible book contains many stills from the movie, and is the only Big Little Book I have come across that has Tom Tyler as a main character in the story.

Sundown Saunders makes his first appearance in the film when Ogden is with Glascow in his room above the Red Bull saloon. The bartender knocks on the door before entering and informs Ogden there is someone downstairs to see him. Once the bartender leaves, Sundown arrives, opening the door to the room, asking which man is Ogden. Sundown is adamant about his business being between Ogden and himself, wanting no one else to hear the conversation that transpires. So he orders Glascow to leave, which he does. Ogden offers Sundown a drink, and Sundown, sitting on the edge of the desk, responds with “Gunplay and liquor don't mix”. Sundown is one who likes to be sober and always alert, sharp on the draw. At no point does Sundown ever let his guard down. Ogden's plan is to frame Tucson Smith, accusing him of stealing cattle off the local ranches and wants Sundown to plug him. As a hired gun, Sundown Saunders demands Ogden pay him his price of $2500.00 on the spot before he does the job. Sundown knows Tucson Smith all too well, is taken aback when he learns why he has been asked to plug Tucson, and in turn accuses Ogden of lying. Yet Sundown never breaks his word to anyone, no matter what the character of the person might be. In maintaining his reputation as the Fastest Gun in the Southwest, Sundown agrees to go up against Tucson Smith, just for game. Successfully going through with the gun match is no problem for Sundown, as he prepares himself mentally and physically for the role, when he spends time outside behind Red Bull saloon cleaning his gun and thinking.

The Three Mesquiteers first meet Sundown in Happy Days saloon across the street from Red Bull saloon. The owner Happy (William Desmond) is busy tending the bar, with only Tucson Smith, Lullaby Joslin (Williams), and Stony Brooke (Gibson). While the men chat, Sundown enters the saloon and saunters up to the bar, requesting a shot of whisky. Happy whispers to the three men that the guest is Sundown Saunders. Tucson starts to leave and as he walks towards the front door, is stopped as Sundown casually grabs him by the arm. Sundown and Tucson exchange a few words, the conversation eventually being softened by Tucson in response to Sundown's snarl, while Sundown challenges him to a duel at sundown. Tucson is right in thinking Sundown is being paid to fight him, but of course Sundown won't admit it. Soon after Sundown leaves the saloon, Jeff comes in and tells Tucson he plans on discouraging Sundown in fighting him, afraid he might lose a close friend and mentor. Being young, with a propensity towards impetuousness, Jeff does not heed Tucson's warning, telling the boy that it is his fight alone.

Jeff finds Sundown outside behind Red Bull saloon, cleaning his gun while sitting by a tree. Jeff implores Sundown not to engage Tucson in a gunfight, explaining how close he is to the oldest of the Three Mesquiteers, looking up to him like a father. Should anything happen to Tucson in this match, Sundown would have to deal with Jeff personally. Jeff is hoping that deep down, Sundown understands how he feels about Tucson – and he does, yet conceals it very well. The only reason Sundown is going through with this is because of the bargain he made with Ogden and being paid for the job, refuses to back down. If there is a crisis of conscience on Sundown's part, there is no visible evidence of it, as he moves mechanically, acting like a killer in every sense of the word. Still seated in front of the tree, Sundown's expression is grim, cold and calculating, as is his every word with Jeff. As if to deliberately provoke Jeff, Sundown tells him that he will eventually forget about his hero worship of Tucson, when Jeff suddenly punches him in the face. Startled, Sundown stands up, his eyes squinting, moving towards Jeff, who takes a step backward. To Sundown, Jeff is just an impetuous kid with misplaced feelings. The duel at sundown is still on, and there really is not much Jeff can do to stop it. After Sundown gives Jeff the brush off, he finds himself dealing with Tucson Smith, who went to Red Bull looking for Jeff. Sundown enters the saloon through the back door of the saloon. With Ogden nearby, Sundown reminds Tucson of his date at sundown in the center of town. Once Tucson leaves, Ogden tells Sundown that he missed the chance to plug Tucson then and there. Sundown looks at him in horror, sneers “You're lower than a rat” before turning his back on him.

Like a red seal is the setting sun
On the good and the evil men have done,-
- Longfellow

At sundown Tucson and Sundown meet up at opposite ends of the road in the middle of town. Once they come within shooting range, Sundown draws and fires but is too late; Tucson already fired, but instead of using regular bullets in his 45 frame revolver, used 3220's – a size meant to only knick his opponent from a certain distance. Tucson had no desire to kill Sundown, and is the first to arrive by Sundown's side when he collapses in the middle of the road. Sundown looks up at Tucson with widened eyes and replies “You took me by surprise”, taking a hit, especially from someone who he did not consider to be truly a bad guy but rather a good guy. After Sundown is taken away and fixed up at the doctor's, Tucson and the boys face a bigger challenge: the real cattle rustlers. Later on, Sundown leaves the doctor's office, when Tucson manages to catch hold of him. Tucson encourages Sundown to join in on the fight against the rustlers. Sundown listens to him even though he looks off into the distance, clearly detached from the entire situation, and wanting to go home to his ranch. Tucson tells Sundown to think about it and turns his attention to the cattle rustling, as the Three Mesquiteers head towards to rocky hills on horseback.

Once the Three Mesquiteers arrive in the hills, gun play starts against the cattle thieves. Well concealed by outcroppings of rocks, they take their turns, while not far off in the distance, Sundown is making his way to their destination, on horseback, crossing a riverbed. In an attempt to repay Tucson for his kindness, Sundown looks around, trying to find where Tucson is located among all the large rocks. He finds him, shooting away, and crouching down, the two men come face to face, looking at each other in a manner of faithfulness and understanding to each other. Of course, Tucson is happy that Sundown decided to join them, and right as one of the cattle rustlers sends a bullet in their direction, Sundown leapps up, ready to shoot back, but instead takes the bullet meant for Tucson right in his chest. Sundown falls back towards the ground, his hat falls off, Tucson looking on in horror, grabbing him. Sundown's last words to Tucson were “I guess it wasn't in the cards for me to stay on the ranch”, looking up at Tucson and smiles broadly, a smile that Tucson hoped he could one day see from Sundown. Sundown finally expires, smile disappearing, still held in Tucson's arms, his face turning towards Tucson's chest. As a rather poignant moment between Tom and Harry, the two finally become friends at the end – a friendship that required the final sacrifice.

Directed by Wallace Fox, “Powdersmoke Range” offered Tom Tyler and Harry Carey the chance to work together for the first time, and as an installment for the Three Mesquiteers, is top notch viewing even though it is a B-western of the mid-1930's. What the movie does offer is the standard western fan's chance to see Carey, Gibson, Williams work with Tom Tyler on equal billing, as well as observe Tom on the other side of the law (at the time this movie was made, Tom was also under contract to Reliable, having just released “Rio Rattler” in 1935), a temporary diversion from his good guy leading man roles in B-westerns at the time. As stated earlier, it is the onscreen chemistry between Harry Carey and Tom Tyler that really make the picture. Their personalities play off each other quite nicely: Tom Tyler being the more enigmatic figure, while Harry Carey is the tough guy with a tender heart, always being on the right side of the law. This chemistry would later be seen in “The Last Outlaw” (1936), another western also starring Hoot Gibson. All things considered, “Powdersmoke Range” remains one of William Colt MacDonald's best western stories translated to the silver screen, bringing the memorable Three Mesquiteers and their friends to life.

Happy One-Year Anniversary!

It has been a whole year since I started this blog, not knowing what to fully expect. Originally started as a marketing tool for Aventuras de Tom Tyler, the actual website grew rapidly, maybe too rapidly at one point. The monthly newsletter also started around the same time the blog did, and the full archive can be found here. Amazingly enough, the demographics for the blog stats range between ages 30 to 60, mainly men but a number of women, too. The blog and website received a facelift in the past few days, in addition to a Podcasts link on the website. The good news is this: both the website and blog itself will always have something new about Tom Tyler, something to celebrate this very special man (which he was), compared to the general biographies that already exist online. The journey has only begun, and with the website three years old now, is about to get better, what with "Shazam!" in its early stages of filming up in Toronto, Ontario, the Blu-ray release of "Adventures of Captain Marvel", the revisiting of Tom Tyler as the superhero and his established career in early talkies and silent film arouse the curiosity of his work. The gentle waves of Hollywood trends come and go, but I predict this one to be a tidal wave for Tom Tyler in 2018. In the meantime, it is back to the regularly scheduled Tom Tyler blog.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

German titles of Tom Tyler films

"Born to Battle", 1926, Film-Kurier
Now we travel to Germany to see what Tom Tyler film titles might appear like on movie posters and other film-related memorabilia. Like the Spanish Biblioteca Films film booklets, Germany also had something similar called Film-Kurier. Tom's starring roles from the 1920's to 1930's have made more than a few appearances on the covers of Film-Kurier. Surprisingly, some film titles like “The Phantom” and “Adventures of Captain Marvel” do not get translated into German. As a piece of Tom Tyler film trivia: Betty Amann, Tom's leading lady in "Trail of Horse Thieves", was born in Pirmasens, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany on March 10, 1905. With thanks to Tagesbote,, and for many of the German film titles.

Born to Battle (1926) – Der Cowboykönig der kalifornischen Berge

The Law of the Plains (1929) – Sein Freund aus der Prärie 

Postcard for "Jungle Mystery", Germany

Jungle Mystery (1932) –
Rätsel der Dschungel

Phantom of the Ranch (1936) –
Das Phantom der Ranch

Rip Roarin' Buckaroo (1936) –
Boxer und Cowboy

Brothers of the West (1937) –
Goldraub am Höllenpass

The Night Riders (1939) – Reiter in der Nacht
Stagecoach (1939) – Ringo/Höllenfahrt nach Santa Fé
Drums along the Mohawk (1939) – Trommeln am Mohawk

"Brothers of the West" German film program
The Westerner (1940) – In die Falle Gelockt
Brother Orchid (1940) – Orchid, der Gangsterbruder
Valley of the Sun (1942) – Tal des Todes
The Talk of the Town (1942) – Zeuge der Anklage
The Princess and the Pirate (1944) – Das Korsarenschiff
San Antonio (1945) – Ein Mann der Tat
Cheyenne (1947) – Schmutzige Dollars
I Shot Jesse James (1948) – Ich erschoss Jesse James
The Dude Goes West (1948) – Abenteuer im Wilden Westen
The Younger Brothers (1949) – Sie ritten mit Jesse James
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) – Der Teufelshauptmann

"I Shot Jesse James" one-sheet German poster

Crooked River (1950) – Banditenjäger

Friday, December 8, 2017

Tom Tyler: The clean-cut hero

Profiled in Classic Images June 1984, Tom Tyler receives a favorable evaluation as a Hollywood leading man, but not just for his acting skills; his personality and lifestyle is described by writer George A. Katchmer as being a role model for American youth to aspire to. One notable aspect of this article, “Tom Tyler: clean cut hero”, combines Tom's real life background with studio composed biographies, embellished as it were, to make it seem like he had an exciting upbringing and an adventurous streak which made Tom fit in his FBO western hero-type roles perfectly.

As a prizefighter in "Red Hot Hoofs"
For example, a number of sources claim that Tom Tyler worked as a coal miner near Pittsburgh, spent time at sea on a steamer, worked as a lumberjack, and as a prizefighter. In retrospect, such roles might not be hard to imagine of Tom, considering the fact he has played a lumberjack (“Riders of the Timberline”) and a prizefighter (“Red Hot Hoofs”, “Rip Roarin' Buckaroo”) and was on a passenger ship (“King of Alcatraz”) at least. Of course none of the studio embellished stories have been substantiated, although there is a strong possibility that he did work as an art model, according to “The Tom Tyler Story” by Mike Chapman. Tom no doubt knew how to pose – in fact during the height of his weightlifting career he posed as a model for Milo barbells in the 1920's. During his first years in Hollywood though Tom had to find a place to live, and eat too, so he was willing to find any kind of work, whether or not it directly led him into acting jobs. Considering Tom Tyler's looks and physique, it is not difficult to imagine him working as an art model.

As a lumberjack in "Riders of the Timberline"
The Classic Images article also documents Tom's desire to become an actor as a teen, receiving support from his two sisters but not his parents, who thought he was wasting his hard-earned money and time on a dream that seemed totally out of reach for the working-class Markowski family. Employed at the auto factory in Detroit, Tom's father preferred that his son follow in his footsteps and bring home a steady paycheck, having some means to support himself as well as a future wife and children (Tom was briefly married to actress Jean Martel, no children). Katchmer further details Tom's childhood and education. There are no details about Tom's education years although it is safe to guess he was a good student, a quiet boy who brought home decent grades on his report card. Comparing Tom Tyler's education years to A-list stars like Errol Flynn or Lee Marvin would be interesting, for it seems like such actors have had trouble in school, even being expelled at some point. Yet Tom, mild mannered as he was, was smart despite having only a high school education, and he was clearly in control of his destiny.

Regarding Tom's personality and lifestyle, the latter being atypical of Hollywood leading men, Katchmer explains why Tom Tyler is an ideal role model for American youth. He mentions that Tom was probably a moderate drinker and smoker (there are a few existing photos of Tom holding a lit cigarette; chances are he liked a cold beer or a glass of wine with his sirloin steak, one of his favorite dishes) and not his name emblazoned across the front page of the newspapers about some scandal on a daily basis. At the same time Katchmer notes that Tom was no saint, as none of us are. Tom's shyness possibly protected him from the toxic side of Hollywood, although it might also be considered that Tom believed in making it in Hollywood on his own talents, based on merit. Regardless of what stories surround Tom Tyler's background and career, this issue of Classic Images is worth seeking out and reading.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

French titles of Tom Tyler films

Galloping Thru 1931
As promised, here is a partial list of French titles of some Tom Tyler movies. It is surprising that France has a considerable western film fans base, at least large enough for a discussion forum to exist. This is of course a good thing, and the popularity of Tom Tyler in France dates back to the European distribution of Tom's FBO silent films as described in the article titled "Grows Abroad, Brown Finds" in Exhibitor's Herald, May 7, 1927 found on the Articles page of the main wesbite, Aventuras de Tom Tyler. Many thanks to and Western Movies Forum, France for the French titles.

Silent films:

The Masquerade Bandit (1926) – Le trésor du ranch
Phantom of the Range (1928) –  Le ranch de la soif
'Neath Western Skies (1929) – Le lion du ranch/Le Vol du Diamant

Stagecoach 1939

The Phantom of the West (1931) – Le fantome du Far West
Battling with Buffalo Bill (1931) – Buffalo Bill
Galloping Thru (1931) –  La diligence infernale
Single Handed Saunders (1932) – Seul Contre Tous
Tracy Rides (1934) – La terreur de la plaine
Ridin' On (1936) – Rivière tragique
Santa Fe Bound (1936) – Le rocher de la mort
The Last Outlaw (1936) – Le dernier hors-la-loi
Stagecoach (1939) – La chevauchee fantastique
The Mummy's Hand (1940) – La main de la momie
Riders of the Timberline (1941) –  Rivaux de la Foret
Valley of the Sun (1942) – La vallee du soleil
Valley of Hunted Men (1942) – La vallée des hommes traqués
The Talk of the Town (1942) – La justice des hommes
Thundering Trails (1943) –  La piste infernale
Gun to Gun (1944) –  Du sang sur le ranch
Boss of Boomtown (1944) – L'attaque de la mine
The Dude Goes West (1948) –  Le bourgeois temeraire
Blood on the Moon (1948) – Ciel rouge
Return of the Badmen (1948) – Far-west 89
The Younger Brothers (1949) – Le gang des quatre freres
I Shot Jesse James (1949) – J'ai tue Jesse James
Riders of the Range (1950) – Les cavaliers de la prairie
Best of the Badmen (1951) – Plus fort que la loi
The Lion and the Horse (1952) – Le lion et le cheval

Single Handed Saunders 1932. Hebdo Film, Paris, France, July 9, 1932

Friday, November 24, 2017

Buck Moon Trail, Part 1

Note: This is the first 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 Thank you and enjoy the story!

A cloud of dirt obscured the wheels of a covered wagon that headed west towards Oklahoma, along with six horses and two goats in tow. After traveling what seemed like hundreds of miles the troupe of five people arrived in Missouri, having started the journey from New York state. The land out west was majestic but in a different manner than the Adirondacks. Of the five people, only one was a woman, anxious about traveling through the wild open country, anxious about one of the men on board who was ill and in need of some special medicine that would cure his illness. The woman sat behind the two men at the front, steering their way down the red and yellow hued roads. An ambivalent feeling came over her as she heard the ill man behind her, a sound not quite like a grunt, which made her head jerk in his direction. The man's amber eyes fell upon her face as he craned his neck to see what she was doing. Self conscious of the dust from the road on her green dress, she brushed it off, raised her eyebrows and sighed. The ill man beckoned to her but before she could rise and crawl over to him, she pulled a small bottle from the cotton purse tied at her waist, opened it and tossed a small beige capsule into her mouth and followed it with a swig of whisky. The ill man looked at her in a disparaging way.

“I know, Tom. Pretty ironic that you're the one needing medicine while I am busy self-medicating, huh.” The woman let out a tiny, demented laugh as she sank in the back of the covered wagon by his side. Her anxiety soon passed and her breathing rhythm changed. Tom's right hand reached out to gently stroke her long, wavy bronze hair. “Is the wagon spinning?” she sleepily asked. The last thing she remembered seeing was Tom's dark hair, a stray ringlet covering his forehead. But he smiled and shook his head at her.

“No, it isn't spinning my dear Julie” he replied, in his familiar and reassuring gravelly voice. His eyes looked deeply into hers.

“Oh that's good.” Julie leaned back against a pillow and tried to get some sleep after lunch. Tom was able to force down some hot stew which Julie lovingly fed him, periodically offering him a bite of bread. She turned her face towards him, watching his look upwards, the fabric and beams forming the safe and cozy shelter of the wagon. “That's good,” she repeated, as she closed her eyes and began to doze off. Julie listened to the faint voices of the two men up front, while the third man rode a stallion ahead of the covered wagon. She was glad the days were longer, traveling during the summer month of July. The hot weather did not bother her too much, and the nights cooled down considerably. The troupe was to make one more stop over the next few hours before they shacked up for the night under the clear skies. Nothing eventful was anticipated, and there were no Indian tribe attacks since they began their journey. Hopefully it would stay that way, and safety was of utmost importance with Tom in their midst. Julie was protective of him although the other men advised her to give him some breathing room, to which she ignored. What if he were to die during their journey? The last thing they could handle was a young woman, too emotionally attached to a dying man. Tom did not seem to be concerned with them, for all he cared about was their getting him to their destination. Of course he appreciated the comfort and aid from Julie but there was something about her Tom could not quite figure out, and of course he was very patient with her – maybe too patient. Perhaps it was his hoping that she might confidentially impart what he was seeking to know about Julie. Tom decided to wait though at the present time and let her sleep after she spent the entire previous night awake keeping an eye on his failing health.

To be continued...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

More Spanish titles of Tom Tyler films

To continue with the translation of Spanish film titles (which is not easy by any means), below are a handful which are seen in Spain newspapers such as Luz: Diario de la Republica and La Voz for the time period of the late 1920's and early 1930's. As usual, those Spanish titles appearing on film booklets published in Barcelona are considerably easier to identify if only for their containment of more than one identifier on the title page, such as additional actor names, as well as character names in the story, neither of which requires a degree of mastery in the Spanish language.

Silent films:

Born to Battle (1926) - Nacido para luchar (click here to see an alternative Spanish title )

Tom's Gang (1927) - Tom y Su Cuadrilla

Cyclone of the Range (1927) - El Tigre del Rancho

Splitting the Breeze (1927) - Bebiendo los vientos

Pioneers of the West (1929) - Jinetes del Oeste

Neath Western Skies (1929) - Bajo el cielo del Oeste


Valley of the Sun (1940) - El Valle del Sol

Some French and German titles of Tom's films will appear in an upcoming blog post.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Surgery in a covered wagon: “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”

One of the most significant and memorable scenes that takes place in “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” (1949) has Tom Tyler as Corporal Mike Quayne who is injured during an Indian attack and has to undergo surgery to remove the bullet from the wound in a covered wagon during the trek through Indian territory out west. The commanding officer, Captain Nathan Brittles (John Wayne) is only a few days away from retirement yet has to guide his cavalry through one last mission – and at the same time, look after Major Mac Allshard's (George O'Brien) wife Abby (Mildred Natwick) and her niece, Olivia Dandridge (Joanne Dru). As an installment of director John Ford's cavalry trilogy, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”, the movie stresses the magnificent land of the west, and not surprisingly, won the 1950 Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Color).

From the time we see Corporal Quayne appearing on horseback seated behind another officer over the crest of the hill, escaping a band of marauding Indians, to when he falls off and collapses onto the ground, injured, to when he is finally propped up by two men so that he could deliver his message to Captain Brittles, is dramatic in itself although not the highest point of the movie for Tom Tyler.

And with him horse and foot--and parks of artillery,
And artillery-men, the deadliest that ever fired gun.

Yet with his hair all astray, a bandana tied around his forehead, Quayne explains to his superior that his injury might have been preventable had his men some aid from Captain Brittles. Quayne is guided off in the direction of the covered wagon where he is about to undergo surgery to remove the bullet from his chest wound, temporarily disappearing from the story, to help build up the next scene to come, which takes place during inclement weather.

As the day progresses during the cavalry's march, the blue western skies slowly transform into dark clouds, a bolt of lightning flashing in the distance. While the simulated thunderstorm took place according to the script – at the same moment during filming, a real thunderstorm was looming over the horizon, providing just the right atmosphere for the surgery scene to take place. Laid up in the covered wagon, Abby and Dr. O'Laughlin (Arthur Shields) commence with the operation. Quayne displays a number of painful expressions, teeth gritting, sweat beading upon his forehead as Abby gets ready to administer him a shot of whiskey to help deaden the pain to come. She holds the glass before his lips, but Quayne lifts his hand to move the glass away and replies “After you Ma'am”, to which she takes a swig of the liquor before handing him the glass. Quayne drinks, and they start singing the cavalry song, right before he is finally knocked out so that Dr. O'Laughlin can remove the bullet from his chest. The cavalry continues on its trek, as the thunderstorm continues during the entire scene. Enveloped in total darkness, wrapped up as comfortably as he can be, relaxed for the doctor so the surgery is successful and recovery can be swift, the thunder of darkness along with the whisky shot, offers contentment to Quayne.

Not completely gone from the story, we see Corporal Quayne one last time, days after his surgery while he is recovering, heavily bandaged up and sitting on the end of the covered wagon and anxious to get back into action. Captain Brittles denies the request and orders Quayne back into the wagon so that his recovery is complete. This is the last we see of Quayne in “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” and as with Tom's other minor roles in A-westerns, a powerful piece of acting is delivered. What is also significant about this role is that the progressive effects of scleroderma are visible in Tom's face, a terminal disease which has no cure even in 2017.

“She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” is not the first movie where Tom is in a role undergoing surgery in a covered wagon; “The Forty Niners” (1932) has a similar scene minus the actual surgery taking place. In this case, a group of men and women head out west to California to seek their wealth in the gold rush, and Tom, as Tennessee Matthews, gets into a fight with another man (Al Bridge) over a woman. Plugged from the front, Tennessee passes out, injured, and is carried into one of the covered wagons where the unseen doctor removes the bullet. Tennessee recovers, and while he is laid upon blankets, he also has mosquito netting covering him in order to prevent further infection.

Similar to his role in “Stagecoach”, Tom Tyler is onscreen only for a few minutes in the three scenes he appears in “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” but makes the most of them, his experience in silent film paying off once again. Had “Stagecoach” been shot in Technicolor, it probably would be similar to this movie, since John Ford directed both, it is not difficult to imagine the vibrant pink, orange and purple colors dominating the western sky, stretching over the raw land of reds and yellows. As a supporting actor, Tom's acting talent is as fine as it comes, and as with the B-westerns of his silent film career, shows that he is perfectly suited to films of the western genre.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Now that you've been introduced to Tom Tyler as Captain Marvel...

Now that the upcoming “Shazam!” movie finally has its star in the form of Zachary Levi, not to mention the new Blu-ray DVD release of “Adventures of Captain Marvel” (Republic), a whole new generation is discovering the work of Tom Tyler. This is of course a very good thing, and once the newly converted Tom Tyler fan takes a serious interest, the next question usually is: “What movie of his should I see next? He made so many of them!” For the fan who likes both superhero movies and westerns, there is the option of watching Tom in the 1941 film serial “The Phantom”, or one of his Three Mesquiteer movies which he also made for Republic. In the latter, the familiar sets are decked with stagecoaches, horses, and a quaint western town. The soundtrack used in “Adventures of Captain Marvel” can also be heard throughout these Three Mesquiteer films. Recommended films: “The Blocked Trail”, “Shadows of the Sage”, “Code of the Outlaw”, and “Riders of the Rio Grande”.

Assuming “The Phantom” and one or two of the Three Mesquiteer movies satisfy, what is next on the roster?

"Call of the Desert"
To go into a direct line back to Tom Tyler's career origins – that of B-westerns for FBO, one of his silent films is highly recommended viewing. There are presently four of his silent films which are available “Call of the Desert”, “Canyon of Missing Men”, “The Texas Tornado” and “Phantom of the Range” (1928). The two latter ones were made for FBO, with the other two made for Syndicate. All four are excellent, and give the viewer an idea of just how far back Tom Tyler's career goes as a silent film leading man. It may be true that he did not resemble the average silent film leading man, as Tom Tyler was above average in more ways than one. Transitioning from silents to early talkies, Tom made B-westerns for Monogram, Reliable, and Victory. These movies are fun to watch, and are all family friendly. Recommended films in this category are: “Two Fisted Justice”, “Tracy Rides”, “Coyote Trails”, “The Feud of the Trail” and “Deadwood Pass”. The plots may be simple, the land beautiful and wild, just perfect for an actor like Tom Tyler. He certainly did not require fancy, lavish sets to play off his rugged masculine persona.

"The Mummy's Hand"
In addition to “Adventures of Captain Marvel” and “The Phantom”, Tom Tyler also made a number of other film serials. Westerns are “Battling with Buffalo Bill” and “The Phantom of the West”, although “The Phantom of the Air” is a fun airplane-stunt filled serial too that is highly recommended.

Much has been made of Tom's role as the movie monster in “The Mummy's Hand” and for a good reason; he was well suited to the role, with his stature and carriage. Don't forget his creepy eyes, courtesy of a camera trick. But his eyes in real life are hardly creepy, and quite nice to look at. There are many supporting film roles Tom Tyler had in dramas like “Brother Orchid” ,“The Talk of the Town” and “King of Alcatraz” worth watching, which prove just how versatile an actor he was.

For the icing on the cake, don't forget to watch John Ford's “Stagecoach” in which Tom Tyler's role as Luke Plummer has been critically acclaimed. Long available on DVD, this movie is a must-have, and is considered to be one of the greatest westerns of all time.

Enjoy your journey through Tom Tyler's movies!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Tom Tyler: A real-life Adonis

One of the earliest marketing tactics for Tom Tyler at the start of his silent-film career was to stress his physical appearance as resembling that of Adonis, the youth of Greek mythology famous for his beauty. A theatre ad from The Ogden Standard-Examiner, Utah, October 4, 1925 describes Tom in his debut starring role in “Let's Go Gallagher” as follows: "A new Adonis of the screen – is a rugged, red-blooded he-manish young god of the Ranges!” For cinema patrons, being introduced to Tom Tyler must have been quite the experience: seeing a 6'2” tall, 190 lb. well-muscled hunk gallop across the silent film screen on horseback, portraying the hero of the day. The 1920's certainly had its share of handsome actors, but there was something about Tom that stood out. For one thing, he did not look like a silent film actor; to put things into context, had he been born twenty years ago instead of 114 years ago, he would be considered as much of a stud now in 2017 as he was back in 1925. Tom's marvelous physique and facial looks, with his classic nose, wide brown eyes, chiseled cheeks and jawline were perfect for silent film, which quality was not always the best, but of course this was long before digital video enhancement.

Venus and Adonis, by Fontana
Considering Tom Tyler's looks and comparing them with Adonis as portrayed by many a famous artist such as Aristide Fontana (fl. cir. 1870-1890) and Titian (1490-1576), it is easy to see the resemblance between the new star of FBO and a work of art. Even Shakespeare wrote a narrative poem about Venus and Adonis:

Thus hoping that Adonis is alive,
Her rash suspect she doth extenuate;
And that his beauty may the better thrive,
With Death she humbly doth insinuate;

The perfect proportions, hair, similar features that Adonis possessed certainly look like they might come to life in the form of a young, enthusiastic actor. Tom Tyler could have very well been the model for these works of art, and if Hollywood lore is true about Tom working as an art model before making it big in pictures...well, it is easy to see why.

Some DVD marketers are prone to color Tom's eyes blue, as in the DVD cover for “The Laramie Kid”/”Single Handed Saunders” put out by Alpha Home Entertainment ( In reality, Tom's eyes were brown, not a dark brown, but regular brown. On silent film, regular brown eyes may appear to the viewer to be blue (in this case, the pupils are usually distinctly visible), while blue eyes on silent film tend to look “washed out.” One of the best close-ups of Tom's eyes is in “The Silver Bullet” when he is in the saloon ready to reprimand an outlaw. Eyes aside, Tom Tyler's perfectly featured face and physique made him a favorite with youth and women alike in America. What red-blooded American boy would not want to grow up to look and be like Tom Tyler?

As a Hollywood silent film leading man, Tom Tyler soon had a growing public who followed his career, regularly viewing his movies on weekends. They were as devoted to their new hero as they could be, similar to how Adonis had his own following, eventually becoming the focal point of a series of Greek mystery plays. There was no shortage of public reminders of Adonis in the Greek world, his image featured on vases and urns, much the way Tom Tyler appeared on posters, arcade cards, and in film booklets for fans to purchase and collect. One this is for certain: Adonis and Tom Tyler do share one thing, they are remembered for their eternal youthfulness and immortality.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tom Tyler and Al St. John: An ideal team

One of Tom Tyler's most underrated onscreen partners during his Reliable years in the 1930's was Al St. John. Frequently billed as Al “Fuzzy” St. John, Al was a star in his own right dating back to his years in vaudeville. A natural comic talent – he got into the film business in 1912, and his acrobatic talent proved to be an asset in silent films – Al appeared in many a B-western, including “Trail Dust” (1936), “The Fighting Deputy” (1937), “Shadows of Death” (1945), and many others. He made two films with Tom Tyler, “Trigger Tom” (1935), and “Pinto Rustlers” (1936). Even though Al was born in 1893, he hardly looked ten years older than Tom Tyler. Yet the two actors complemented each other in a way that Tom's other film partners did not. To start with, Al St. John shorter than Tom, but he was attractive, blue eyes, blonde, thin yet had a muscular “tough guy” appearance about him, complementing Tom Tyler's dark good looks and physical appearance quite nicely.

In “Trigger Tom”, Al is Stub Macey, who meets Tom in an unlikely manner: after being thrown out of a saloon, somersaulting down the steps, for owing another man money. Tom is of course looking for Stub to offer him a job, and in the process takes care of his new pal's debt, and they go off on their mission. Tom plans on buying cattle from a rancher (John Elliott) after receiving an offer to do so, but runs into trouble when he discovers an outlaw named Mose Jeckyl (William Gould) controls the sale and price of the cattle in the region, regardless of who owns them. Stub helps Tom achieve his mission, even when Tom falls in love with Dorothy (Bernadine Hayes) the lady of the cattle ranch.

In “Pinto Rustlers” Al is Mack, paired with Tom by the inspector (William Gould) in order to put an end to a gang of local horse rustlers. Once the inspector tests Tom to find out if he is man enough for the job (he belts Tom after talking him down), Mack speaks up and tells Tom that he is his pal for life, doing what he has wanted to do to his boss for quite some time. As Mack, Al acts as lookout for Tom while the latter infiltrates the gang of horse thieves to establish justice for a pinto owner who was shot dead. Al does not have as much onscreen time in this movie as he does in “Trigger Tom” but still plays an important role. For example, Mack has to fake being another rustler named Lugo but is eventually caught in the act. With both Tom and Mack temporarily incapacitated – they end up being tied together by rope – Tom breaks free, and continues to pin down the rustlers. Mack is also handy as a safecracker, and breaks open a safe where Tom removes a sum of money and hides it in a piano lid. Al St. John probably could have benefited from more air time in “Pinto Rustlers” alongside Tom, and even though thse two distinguished actors made only two movies together, they certainly had the potential for more films as a semi-permanent team. They not only looked great together, but their acting talents were on a par with each other, which makes them so enjoyable to watch together.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Update: Film identification help and fate of an unreleased Tom Tyler film

I have an update on the following films:

“Cow Punching for Cupid” (Exhibitor's Herald, September 11, 1926) was likely renamed "Red Hot Hoofs".

R94 Series, manufactured in the USA, issued in 1929, two cards:

R94 "Overnight Rider" is probably  “Avenging Rider”.

R94 "Hearts and Hoofs" is probably “Red Hot Hoofs”.

If anyone has any additional information about these three film cards, please contact me at Thank you!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Tom Tyler's Box Office Popularity: 1926 and 1927

While Tom Tyler's silent films proved to be popular with children and families since the inception of his career as a silent film leading man in 1925, by 1926 and 1927 he achieved a degree of ranking at the box office, according to Exhibitor's Herald publication dates of October 30, 1926 and December 31, 1927. What should be pointed out in the October 30, 1926 issue is that while this is mentioned in “The Tom Tyler Story” by Mike Chapman on page 21 of the book, there appears to be a minor error in Tom's biography: according to Exhibitor's Herald, Tom ranks at #55, and not #35 (as mentioned in the book) ahead of the following actors: Tom Mix, Fred Thomson, Hoot Gibson, Buck Jones, Jack Holt, Richard Talmadge, and Jack Hoxie:

The entire three-page article titled “Theatre Poll Establishes Box Office 'Name' Values” can be viewed here (page 54), here (page 55), and here (56). Still, being in the middle of the top 100 Hollywood stars is not a bad thing, and by 1926, Tom's star was still rising. He was hot property in more ways than one in Hollywood, to be sure, and by the end of 1927, Exhibitor's Herald ranked Tom at #36, ahead of male stars like Ronald Colman, Reginald Denny, Thomas Meighan, Douglas Fairbanks, Lon Chaney, and Wallace Beery. Not only that, but Tom merited a headshot among select others in “The Big Names of 1927”! Not bad at all for a young man who dreamed big of making it in Hollywood and setting out from Hamtramck, Michigan with only 50 dollars in his pocket. This article can be viewed here (page 22) and here (page 23).

From Exhibitor's Herald, December 31, 1927

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tastefully Exploitative: Fighting Hero

Imagine a Tom Tyler western that is pure fun to watch – that could be any one of those that he made for Reliable, Victory, or even Monogram. Now imagine a Tom Tyler western with a tastefully exploitative edge to it: “Fighting Hero” (1934). What is it about “Fighting Hero” that takes Tom and places him in multiple heroic situations in this movie while at the same time using his maximum potential as a major stud? What “Fighting Hero” does is leave the viewer hearing dialogue that does not appear in the script between Tom Tyler and some of his co-stars, notably the leading lady Renee Borden as Conchita Alvarez.

“Fighting Hero” opens with a $2500.00 reward wanted poster of Tom tacked to a tree just outside a small western town, displaying his handsome face, the same image used in other movies like “The Silver Bullet”, and Tom with his horse standing by the tree. Tom laughingly tells his horse, “I'm getting all the publicity and you're doing all the work”, assuming an undercover pose. As an  undercover agent for Express Company, Tom's assignment is to prevent the holdup of a gold shipment coming through town – and finds himself playing the hero at a poker game, rescuing a young Mexican girl from being convicted for murder which she is being framed for, and taking down two different groups of bandits hot on the trail of the gold shipment.

Tom enters the small western town and enters Bonanza Saloon where he sits in on an open poker game, but only after he ovehears that one of the players – a young man – is using his father's payroll to gamble with. The main card player, Bert Hawley (Edward Hearn), wears special glasses that permit him to view the marked card deck being used in the game. Tom catches on soon enough and  manages to win the boy's father's payroll back – and tells him not to gamble with that kind of money ever again. Bert seems surprised at the entire ordeal, wondering exactly who this guy is, a stranger who seems to come out of nowhere and play the hero. The poker game is simply a precursor to the main event though, which involves a young Mexican girl named Conchita who is being framed for murder in the town's courthouse. As usual, Tom steps in, observes the trial for a few minutes before approaching the bench and speaking up before the judge. He is granted time in the back room of the courthouse to speak with Conchita and find out what the entire case is about. She explains to him that she is being framed, simply because she is Mexican. Conchita even says to Tom, “Heaven himself has sent you” while he casually brushes off the comment, although  the viewer can almost hear him reply with “I'm here”. It is only when they are back in the courtroom that Tom decides to recreate the murder scene and uses it as an attempt to rescue Conchita from the trial. Positioning himself behind her, he tells Conchita “Now, resist me”, his hands gently on her arms. The entire passing moment could be filled her saying, “I'll try to but I don't think I can.” At that point Hawley is standing in the doorway of the courthouse, after seeing the poster of Tom circulating in the saloon, and ready to shoot him. But as Tom turns around he catches sight of Hawley and drawing his gun, sharp shoots Hawley's gun from his hand and pushes Conchita out the window where the couple escapes on horseback. A number of men in the courtroom, along with Hawley and his partner Dick (Dick Bottiler) go after Tom and Conchita but lose track of them through the hills.

Once Tom and Conchita are in a safe spot, a grateful yet humorous exchange takes place between the two, an event which looks like it could have sprung from one of Tom's early silent films. Conchita's 1920's hairstyle and manner of dress are authentic enough, but what is even more notable is Tom's manner of dress in the movie, which is all too similar to what he wore during the early part of his silent film career: a dark cotton shirt with white buttons (which looks identical to the one he wore in 1928's “Phantom of the Range”), a scarf, and jeans. In previous films like “War of the Range” and “Ridin' Thru”, Tom wears a light colored button down shirt minus a scarf although in the latter he also wear a small tie, quite different from his early cowboy costume. Conchita falls in love with Tom and tells him so, even though he thinks it is a lot of nonsense, simply by telling her his name. Jokingly, he adds that his middle name is Trouble – and that Conchita does not want to be around him because of that. In Conchita's eyes, Tom is “a beautiful name”, and before she knows it, starts telling Tom that she loves him. Of corse, Tom thinks it is a lot of nonsense, a woman falling in love with him just because he bailed her out of trouble. But Tom's wide eyes and dazzling smile only makes Conchita do a double take, and as Tom's strong hands on her arms draw them closer, she soon finds herself disappearing in him, much the same way a viewer of the movie might experience. Conchita only wants to be with Tom, and discovering he is unattached, tries her best to keep him interested in her. Yet Tom's expressions says otherwise, suggesting his feelings for her might be more of a sisterly nature. By the time Tom gets Conchita safely to her aunt's house, she is still all over him with the “I love you Tom Trouble” usually followed by her native Spanish “much mucho mucho”.  Tom's dazzling smile suggests he is amused by her crush on him, thinking it impossible for her to be in love with a man she barely knows.

Gang ringleader Morales (J. P. McGowan) soon gets word of the reward for Tom, and keeps an eye out for him until he mysteriously shows up – after seeing his poster tacked by a tree next to one of Morales' tent. When Tom does show up at the entrance of the largest tent with the entire gang seated inside, Tom has his gun in hand, wearing a big smile, catching Morales off guard. Tom finagles his way into the gang, since they know he is a wanted man, and proposes a better plan compared to that of Morales in gaining access to the gold shipment. Impressed with Tom's demonstration of quick shooting – Tom takes perfect aim at a cigarette Morales is holding in the air – they agree to meet when the wagon comes through. Yet it leaves Tom with plenty of time to visit his girl who lives “down in the valley”, as he tells Morales.

When Tom returns to Conchita's house to return the horse she borrowed during their initial escape, she is happily arranging flowers in vases, humming a Mexican song. He knocks on the door and she opens it after he identifies himself as Tom Trouble on the other side, only too glad to see him again. What Tom does not know is that prior to his arrival, Hawley and Dick came to see Conchita to encourage her to disarm Tom and hand him over to them. Once Tom and Conchita share an embrace on the sofa in the living room, she asks him if his gun is a good one – meaning, is it good for self defense. Tom responds “...the gun is much better than the man”, although Conchita most likely thinks she would rather be protected by Tom himself. As meek as Conchita tries to portray herself before Tom – telling him she wants to learn how to shoot a gun in order to protect herself from the “big, bad wolf”, he finally consents. But when he hands his gun to Conchita, she suddenly fakes being scared and drops it onto the floor – right at that moment, Hawley and Dick come out from behind the drapes and proceed to subdue Tom. Disappointed in Conchita selling him out, Tom fistfights the two men and knocks them out before haranguing Conchita. Tom leaves her and proceeds to get the sheriff to help protect the gold shipment, but not before he is mistakenly accused of being part of the robbery gang – having to clear himself while fighting against Hawley, Dick, and the Morales gang – all at the same time. Once the sheriff arrests the gang members, Tom and Conchita reconcile – and he gets the murder charges against her dropped.

“Fighting Hero” certainly capitalizes on Tom's dazzling smile, his tough but likable personality – even Morales takes to him quite easily (J. P. McGowan directed a handful of Tom Tyler westerns for his own silent film production company between 1929 and 1930) during the scene in the tent. Directed by Harry S. Webb, Tom Tyler is at his very best in “Fighting Hero” as a hero inviting the viewer to dream about having him as a personal hero.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Marketing Tom Tyler and His Pals

While Tom Tyler was often marketed along with “his pals” in both movie theatre and press materials, it was more often than not along with some qualifier. For example, in Tom's silent film “The Masquerade Bandit” a lobby card has printed on it, “Tom Tyler and His Lovable Pals.” A newspaper theatre ad for the same movie has it, “Tom Tyler and His Buoyant Pals” – in this case, buoyant meaning cheerful and optimistic. But the whole “Tom and His Pals” did not begin until his second silent film with FBO, “The Wyoming Wildcat” in 1925, when that film star catchline began. Many times early ads for Tom's movies would just mention his name and leave off the “..and His Pals” line but that did not mean his pals were not included in the cast. Frankie Darro was always omnipresent in Tom's films, to be sure, along with Beans the dog. The most important thing to keep in mind is, “Tom Tyler and His Pals” was a marketing ploy to encourage his audience to see all of his silent films, to see what Tom and his gang were up to. In a theatre ad for “Wild to Go”, Tom's pals were even advertised as a “ten-strike trio”. Some times it was just “Tom and His Buddies” – simple enough. Other common twists included: “Tom and His Breezy Pals”, “Tom and His Whizzing Pals”, and “Tom Tyler and His Buddies”. Sometimes a more personalized line would be used: “Tom Tyler and His Little Pal Frankie Darrow”, as was used in a theatre ad for “Lightning Lariats”. Perhaps it does not seem unusual that placing Frankie's name alongside Tom's on an almost equal par: they were after all pals on the set, and even though Frankie was a famous child actor – Tom was just a big kid himself. Having onscreen pals like Tom Tyler did – who would not want to miss the latest silent film Tom made for FBO back in the 1920's?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Collectibles: Tom Tyler Tales: The Adirondack Cowboy comic books

There were only two comic books posthumously issued with Tom Tyler as a western screen hero, and they were published in 2003 and 2005. While these dates seem much later than usual for a film star of the 1920's and 1930's, there is a reason for it: none had been published in the United States since then, excluding the Spain-published comic stories of Tom Tyler in the popular BOY periodical for youths, published by Gato Negro in Barcelona. There really was not much of a tribute to Tom as was stars like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers in the states, even though he certainly deserved one.

Tom Tyler Tales: The Adirondack Cowboy was the creation of three Essex County, New York fans of Tom Tyler – the county where Tom was born in 1903. 2003 is a significant year, since it marks the 100th anniversary of Tom's birth. Calvin Castine, Sid Couchey, and Arto Monaco are the men who provided not only the story and artwork for these two comic books, but also the story behind creating them, Tom's biography and filmography, and a plethora of Tom Tyler memorabilia items reproduced and interspersed throughout the books.

Tom Tyler Tales #1 contains a story about Tom and how he wound up traveling all the way from Port Henry, a hamlet of Moriah in New York state, to Baxter Springs, Kansas. His adventure involves tracking down three desperados called “The Three Saddlemates”, based on the book creators: Sid, Arto, and Cal. This trio is of course reminiscent of “The Three Mesquiteers”. Tom helps Baxter Springs sheriff Gordie, based on Gordie Little, a native of North Country, New York, and of Home Town Cable. Always the hero. Tom rounds up The Three Saddlemates, and sends them back to jail.

Tom Tyler Tales, Too, published in 2005, was the joint effort of Calvin and Sid (Arto died in November 2003). This comic book contains two stories: one including The Three Saddlemates, and the second story, Tom as Major Courage – a superhero play on the name Captain Marvel. As in the other stories, the creators have characters named after them here too. The comic book is not only a tribute to Tom Tyler but also to Arto Monaco. Most notably, profits from Tom Tyler Tales, Too was intended to go towards a historic marker for him in Moriah, which unfortunately never materialized due to lack of interest.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Tom's hands: It's all in the action of the wrists

One of the most noticeable things about Tom Tyler's physique is his hands. General discussion about hands might seem trivial, but one can tell a lot of things about an individual's hands: the shape, size, the language they speak, whether they gesticulate or not. Tom being a champion weightlifter, was at a benefit not only due to his musculature and strong wrists, the latter being a major requirement for successful weightlifting, but again, for his big, strong hands. Even though Tom had big hands, they were perfectly shaped, and in the movies he made, often well manicured. Movies such as “Ridin' On” seemed to showcase his hands, whether he was getting his horse under control to keep from being thrown, or turning over a bullet shell in his hands. Tom's hands and wrists proved beneficial in his film rescue scenes, especially when he had to scoop up a young lady on a runaway horse with his right hand, as he did with Ruth Hiatt in “Ridin' Thru”. His hands were big and strong enough to hold his pal Frankie Darro, as can be seen in a picture of them from Picture-Play Magazine, June 1927:

So when enjoying a Tom Tyler movie, notice his hands, how strong and well shaped they are – and how they were a major asset in his weightlifting and acting career.