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!