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.”