Saturday, August 10, 2019

Storing paper-based film collectibles

Note: This article has been modified from my original article written for Hubpages on October 10, 2017.

ESCO Arcade card from "The Arizona Streak", 1926
For those of you who collect paper-based film memorabilia on Tom Tyler, perhaps some of the most important questions are, “What is the best way to store these? Can I display this item in a frame?” The answer to the first question takes preservation into consideration, and contrary to popular belief, storage materials for film collectibles from the mid-1920’s to the 1940’s are not expensive at all. In fact, acid-free paper envelopes and polyethylene bags are affordable, found in office supply stores, and websites like Amazon. Similar items should always be stored together, such as arcade/exhibit/postcards, lobby cards, film booklets, and film stills. For the ambitious collector, a cataloguing system might also be used to keep track of what is being collected. Regardless if you have only a handful of colorful arcade cards of Tom Tyler, or an extensive film still collection, following is a list of different paper-based film collectibles and the ideal way to store them.

ESCO postcard, "When the Law Rides" 1928
Arcade/Exhibit cards and postcards

These movie collector cards, manufactured by the Chicago Exhibit Supply Company (ESCO), were dispensed through vending machines for a penny each back in the 1920's and 1930's. Western stars were very popular subjects on these cards. Many times film scenes were reproduced on these cards too, especially silent films. Each arcade/exhibit card measured 5.2” x 3.2” in size, about the same size as a postcard produced during the same time period. What makes arcade/exhibit cards stand out is the number of colors a single image would be available in. These cards usually came in duotone; for example, an arcade card of Tom Tyler and Frankie Darro in a scene from “Cyclone of the Range” comes in yellow/orange as well as gray/purple. A very wide range of colors were used to manufacture these cards, which range from red, blue, green, yellow, magenta, lime green, navy, even aqua. A small photo album with acid-free poly sleeves is an ideal way to store these intriguing film collectibles.

Photo of Tom Tyler, 1927
Cigarette, chocolate and biscuit cards

Also referred to as tobacco cards, a number of companies used to produce film star photos on these small cards, using bright colors, although very early cards were produced in black and white. The original purpose of cigarette cards was to provide a stiff package so the product would not get crushed. Cigarette companies like Rothmans (England), Player (England), and Ogden's (England) are just a few names popular among cigarette card collectors. The average size of these cards was usually 2” x 3” in size, sometimes even smaller. Some companies like A & M Wix issued several different sized cards with film stars on them. In addition to cigarette cards, film star cards like those produced by Cloetta, a Swedish candy company, were included in their chocolate products, and similar cards produced by De Beukelaer found in their biscuit (cookie) packages, were very close in card size. Most cigarette cards are stored in baseball card plastic pages, especially those seen at ephemera shows.

Biblioteca Films, "The Man from Death Valley"
Film stills and film star photos

Most film stills and film star publicity photos measure 8” x 10” in size, on glossy photo paper. Those which contain autographs of a star are usually worth a few bucks. Film stills have long been used as marketing tools for recently released films and are sought after by favorite film collectors. Depending upon the age of the film still or publicity photo, there may be a little surface wear, as well as wear along the edges of the photo. There might also be writing along the edge either in pen or pre-printed on the film still to identify which movie it is from. Acid-free plastic sleeves that measure 8 1/2” x 11” in size are an ideal way to store a large collection of film stills. One particular favorite still, or publicity photo, might also be framed and hung on the wall.

Film booklets

Often seen at ephemera shows and in antique shops, film booklets come in a variety of sizes depending upon the publisher, and nation of origin. Basically, a film booklet is a thin publication with a stapled binding, containing a film story. Usually, several film shots are also included in the publication. One of the most popular film booklets in English is Boy's Cinema, published in the UK from 1919 to 1940 and contained several film stories, often profiling one film on the front cover. Spy films, war dramas, and westerns were favorite genres for this publication. An issue of Boy's Cinema measures 7 1/2” x 10 7/8” in size. Another popular film booklet was Biblioteca Films, published in Barcelona, Spain. In this case, each issue was devoted to an entire movie, with the film title in Spanish. For example, the film booklet for “Galloping Thru”, a 1931 Tom Tyler talkie, translates as “Deuda de Sangre”. These film booklets measure 4 3/4” x 6 7/8” in size, smaller than Boy's Cinema.
Lobby card for "Honor of the Mounted" 1932
Spain also came out with a series of western film booklets, Los Films del Far-West, numbered in a series. Other examples of film booklets also include Photo Aventures, in French, similar to the Biblioteca Films, and Film-Kurier, in German. Like film stills, 8 1/2” x 11” acid free clear plastic binder sleeves are the ideal way to store film booklets. If a film booklet is starting to separate from its binding, or the paper is frail and crumbles when touched, it can also be stored in an acid-free envelope that is 5” x 7” in size.

Lobby cards

Lobby cards produced in the United States measure a standard 11” x 14” in size, although cards produced before 1930 also measured 8” x 10”. Usually produced in a series of eight, these lobby cards were displayed in the lobby of movie theatres across the country.
One sheet, "Tracy Rides" 1935
Nowadays, Tom Tyler silent film lobby cards can have a market value of $300.00 to $500.00, depending upon the movie. Older lobby cards may have thin paper base, which is prone to tearing due to its age. Lobby cards that are in excellent shape without any tears along the edge can be displayed in a frame; more fragile ones not in use can be stored in an 11” x 14” Itoya portfolio book.

One sheets, half sheets, and larger posters

Probably the most popular popular sized movie poster being produced today is the one sheet. Measuring 27” x 40” in size, these are easily displayable in a frame; when they are not is use they can be rolled up and stored inside a polyethylene bag that covers the entire poster. Other movie poster sizes include the following: insert (14” x 36”), window card (14” x 22”), half sheet (22” x 28”), two sheet (41” x 54”), three sheet (41” x 81”), six sheet (81” x 81”), and twenty-four sheet (246” x 108”). If you have the wall space for one of these larger posters, then display in a frame is the perfect choice; if not, they should be stored rolled inside a polyethylene bag the width of the poster.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Collectibles: Tom Tyler on the Picturegoer series postcards

Among the movie cards manufactured in Europe, Picturegoer series postcards was one of the most popular sets to come out of England, next to the Boys Cinema cards. Printed in London, England, these postcards used a real photograph of an actor on the front, with the writing space and address on the reverse. The Picturegoer company began manufacturing movie memorabilia in 1921 to 1960. Not only did they produce more than 6500 postcards bearing real photos of actors and actresses, the company also published a number of consumer film magazines: Picturegoer Magazine, Film Weekly, Picture Show, and Film Pictorial.

The Picturegoer postcard which have photos of Tom Tyler on the front date from the 1930’s to 1940’s. These postcards have a glossy surface, and measure 3 1/2” by 5 1/2” in size. The photographs are in black and white, with the star’s name at the bottom of each postcard, and the name of the film production or distribution company in the lower right corner in the white border framing each photo.
There are four known cards on which Tom Tyler appeared: cards numbered 381, 381a, 381b, and 828.

Card number 381 depicts a very young Tom Tyler with his hair slicked down, the image itself dating to around 1925. There is no film production name on this card.

Picturegoer postcard #381

Card 381a has a photo of Tom, probably from “Phantom of the Air”, dressed in his aviator’s uniform and scarf. This postcard has the film company Universal in the lower right hand corner.

Picturegoer postcard #381a

Card 381b has a photo of Tom with his horse, probably from “Partners of the Trail” (1931), with the British release company listed as Wardour, in the lower right hand corner of the card. The horse is light colored, and the harness, plus Tom’s outfit, match the description in this lost film.

Picturegoer postcard #381b

Card 828 has a photo of Tom dressed in his frequent early 1940’s western clothes, facing right, with the name Republic at the lower right corner of the card, from one of the Three Mesquiteers movies.

Picturegoer postcard #828

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Happy 100th Anniversary of your acting lessons, Tom!

Tom Tyler, circa 1925

As the year 2020 approaches, the year marks a special milestone in the life of Tom Tyler. Believe it or not, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary that Vincent (Wincenty) Markowski began a correspondence course in acting through Johnson Screen Training School at the age of 17 in 1920, according to the article "The Sucker Who Succeeded", Motion Picture Classic, July 1928. Taking his career seriously, Vincent worked hard, driving a truck and transporting cans of film to local cinemas where he lived in Hamtramck, Michigan. Young Vincent was an enthusiastic worker, clearly loved being able to get his foot in the door of the movie business. Upon the completion of the acting course, Johnson Screen Training School sent Vincent a letter, which also served as a certificate to verify that Vincent did indeed complete the course, with all assignments completed, including the correct application of actor’s makeup. It is unknown exactly how many lessons total that Vincent was required to take, an estimated guess would be between ten to twelve lessons, meaning that the course could easily be completed within a couple of months.

It would not be until 1923 when Vincent, then aged 20 years old, would leave his home town with his close friend Emil Karkoski, and the fifty dollars that Vincent’s sister loaned him for the trip. According to “The Tom Tyler Story” by Mike Chapman, when the two young men arrived in Denver, Colorado, Emil decided to return home to his family, while Vincent trudged on, with his continuing enthusiasm and courage, never failing to believe in himself. There is the possibility that Vincent was also aware he did not have much time to achieve his specific goal, having died during his fiftieth year due to complications from scleroderma. With time moving as quickly as it does for some of us, it will not be long before the 100th anniversary of Tom Tyler’s debut as a leading man for FBO in 1925 will be celebrated.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Say it isn’t so: Censorship in “The Law of the Plains”

It would be difficult for the modern Tom Tyler fan to consider the case of censorship, or even the need for it, in one of his starring roles movies. What might be an even bigger challenge is to think it could happen in one of Tom’s later silent films made for Syndicate Pictures – yet it did, and Bell Pictures Inc., the distributor (New York City), was forced to remove a few frames from the final print of “The Law of the Plains”, released in 1929.

“The Law of the Plains” is the only Syndicate Pictures silent film on which there is scant information; next to nothing at Lantern Media History, and a bare mention in major newspapers outside of cast members and very brief plot description. In fact, Natalie Joyce, Tom’s leading lady in the movie, is not given a character name, not even at IMDB. Consequently, composing the story line for “The Law of the Plains” page of Aventuras de Tom Tyler proved to be the most challenging of all Tom Tyler silent films, most of which have a wealth of information on them, including the many lost silent films he starred in. A routine inquiry was sent to the Library of Congress about plot information, and they were extremely accommodating and helpful, even leading me to put an inquiry at the New York State Archives, which holds many records on silent films – and “The Law of the Plains” happened to be one of them. Upon the recent receipt of a photocopy of the record for this silent film, some rather interesting information was included, a tidbit that would make a fantastic piece of trivia among Tom Tyler fans and later 1920’s silent film western fans.

It seems that upon the final screening of “The Law of the Plains” by the State of New York Education Department, Motion Picture Division, which granted exhibition licenses (a license to show the movie at cinemas) a request was made to Bell Pictures Inc. to remove the frame from the first reel of the film where Limpy (possibly, Al Ferguson, who is referred to a “Gang Leader” at IMDB) swats at a fly which landed on his face – and utters a curse word. There is no reference to the actual curse word in the photocopy record, aptly labeled as “Indecent”; unfortunately, neither is there a mention of all cast members and their characters, outside of Tom Tyler being mentioned. Since Tom’s silent film westerns have always been considered family- and children-friendly, any lip movements that mimic a curse word had to be removed. Once this change was made, the film reel was sent back for review by the examiners at the Motion Picture Division and declared appropriate for exhibition.

While on the subject of archival records on silent films, one other interesting piece of information stood out: in 1929, it cost $3.00 per 1000 lineal feet of film to acquire a license to exhibit the silent film. So with the five reels of 35mm, the total cost for the exhibition license in 1929 was $15.00 – or $225.00 in the year 2019.

Obviously no one would be able to see the Limpy character make the curse word in “The Law of the Plains” but not because the film does not exist; four of the five reels are at the Library of Congress, and one of those happens to be the first reel – the reel designated as needing a modification before the film could be granted a license for exhibition at cinemas across the United States. Hopefully, “The Law of the Plains” will seek restoration within the next few years.

A huge thank you to the New York State Archives in Albany for their help in providing the above information FOC (free of charge), and of course the Library of Congress, who has always been a pleasure to deal with when it comes to my research of Tom Tyler and his work.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

On raising boys: Words of wisdom from Tom Tyler

Tom Tyler with Frankie Darro in the great outdoors
in "Terror Mountain", 1928
Rare are the few interviews of Tom Tyler than do exist, and when they fall into the hands of fans and individuals interested in learning about his philosophy and views about life, prove to be real treasures. More often than not, these tidbits of wisdom are timeless and still hold true today.

In an article in The Republic, Columbus, Indiana, dated October 7, 1937 Tom explains why time spent in the great outdoors is so important for boys, and how it can help them with their studies in school and encourage them to read. Tom Tyler would certainly know about the great outdoors, not just in the movies he makes, but because he was born and raised in the Adirondacks in upstate New York: that magnificent region of land which serves as both a state park and residential space. Continuing, Tom states that if a boy has issues with a particular subject in school, such a geography or history, that the parents allow the child to integrate his personal interests in what he is learning. Such interests might be exploration by land or water to then-exotic places few in America have heard of in the 1930’s, like Burma, Indonesia, or Tibet.

Whiteface Mountain and Esther Mountain in the Adirondacks
- from Wikimedia Commons
While Tom Tyler does not mention the following, there is a second factor involved, and that is physical activity and its important connection to the human memory. Children spending time outside playing and getting lots of exercise are more likely to perform better at their studies in school. It was not long ago when scientific studies were conducted on this subject. While we do not know what Tom’s grades were like in school when he was a boy, it can be surmised that he was a good student, someone who never got into trouble, and who had the self-discipline to apply himself in class – just as he did with his acting lessons which he learned through a correspondence course. Coming full circle, this can certainly help many a young boy – or girl – who struggles in school to spend some time outside, exploring, getting the workout that only nature can provide and revel in before preparing to hit the books once he or she is back inside their homes.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Equal opportunity heroes: Minorities in Tom Tyler silent films and early talkies

An exhibit card, "The Arizona Streak", 1926
For the individual interested in Tom Tyler’s silent film and early talkie career, that person might be surprised to discover that racial minorities had minor but very significant roles in the plot. It is not until the early to mid-1930’s that minorities – African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Jews become more prominent in their roles, despite overcoming periodic stereotypes on film. Information about the presence of racial minorities, specifically, African-Americans, in Tom Tyler’s silent films is a bit scant with the exception of two movies not available on DVD, “The Arizona Streak” (1926), and “Lightning Lariats” (1927), for which physical evidence is available in the form of lobby cards, a Spanish film booklet, and Hollywood trade publications. Additionally, these early African-American actors were not credited by name in the cast, to make their identification even more difficult. It may sound curious to the average reader that African-Americans appeared in casts of otherwise Caucasian-majority silent films, particularly in B-westerns. Discounting movies like “Birth of a Nation” (1915) which portrayed African-Americans in a negative light, there is a probable answer for this: Joseph Patrick Kennedy Sr., owner of FBO, the studio which signed on Tom Tyler back in 1925, was a strong believer in social justice, a family trait which remained through future generations of Kennedys up to the present.

"Lightning Lariats", Biblioteca Films
It remains unknown how many FBO silent films included African-Americans in the casts, for the majority of these films are lost, and Hollywood trade publications frequently did not mention minorities who did appear in these silent films. The good news is this: even though these uncredited black actors were cast in stereotyped roles (cooks, hired help) of the 1920’s and 1930’s on film, they were also portrayed as having hero potential, often having a positive role model in Tom Tyler’s silent films and talkies. In addition to the three known silent films where African-Americans appear alongside Tom Tyler, there are two talkies which include a well-known actor and comedian by the name Fred Toones, plus another movie which combines the forces of a Jewish merchant and Chinese gentlemen to combat a vicious crime lord in a small western town.

The Arizona Streak (1926)

An ESCO (Exhibit Supply Company, Chicago, IL) exhibit card depicting a scene from “The Arizona Streak” has Tom Tyler seated on a stool at the right, while a man at the left is play punching an African-American man. Behind these two men is a stone mantle with a row of bottles. Along with Tom, who is grinning broadly, the three men appear to be having fun. It is uncertain the role the man in the middle plays in this silent film – the African-American –  although that can be ascertained should the print of this silent film at the Cinematek in Brussels ever get restored.

Lightning Lariats (1927)

In “Lightning Lariats” (1927), young Alexis (Frankie Darro) becomes friends with another small black boy named John (erroneously credited as played by Leroy Scott, who was born in 1875, and was 52 years old at the time he made “Lightning Lariats”), the son of Mariana, Tom's hired help. John wishes the very best of luck for Alexis, as the two boys played at dice at Tom Potter’s (Tom Tyler) ranch house, somewhat oblivious to the plot being contrived against them, by Luboff and Polsky, the two officers of Roxenburg, who followed Alexis to America. John explains to Alexis the game of dice and how to throw them, in order to come up with the winning numbers of seven or eleven. (El Valiente de la Pradera, Biblioteca Films) A complete print of “Lightning Lariats” is at Gosfilmofond in Moscow, Russia.

The Texas Tornado (1928)

"The Texas Tornado" 1928
The one advantage of “The Texas Tornado” over the above named silent films is its availability on DVD. In this silent film from FBO, the singular African-American actor in the cast is a cook for the Briscoe family named Rufus. Rufus attempts to physically discourage Latimer (Jack Anthony) from getting hold of the lease which needs to be renewed, but ends up taking a hit, temporarily defeated until Tom King (Tom Tyler) arrives in the nick of time, galloping up to the ranch house. Leaping off his horse, Tom stops to listen to Rufus before entering the Briscoe homestead. After Tom reassures the cook, he breaks open the front door and beats up Latimer, absconding with the ranch lease before leaping onto his horse and race to the bank to renew it. Not appearing during the majority of the film except the start and end, Rufus makes his way on horseback to the spot where Tom just rescued Buddy (Frankie Darro) from a broken gondolier, and along with Ellen Briscoe (Nora Lane), catch Latimer  in the act, who then confesses to the sheriff he was behind framing Tom for the shooting of Jim Briscoe (Frank Whitson). Rufus remained ready to play a role in freeing Tom from his arrest status, if only for his being the first person on the Briscoe ranch to communicate with Tom about what was taking place at the time Latimer was inside the house, giving Jim trouble about the lease. But once the sheriff slaps the handcuffs on Latimer and hauls him away, Buddy manages to give Latimer a swift kick in his rear, upon which Buddy and Rufus shake hands and laugh.

Single Handed Saunders (1932)

"Single Handed Saunders"
Single Handed Saunders” marks the first Tom Tyler movie where an African-American actor is credited. Fred 'Snowflake' Toones is simply referred to as Snowflake by Matt Saunders (Tom Tyler) in this Trem Carr movie. Matt is a blacksmith by trade, with Snowflake as his helper, close friends and confidantes in a small western town where the homesteaders are given preference by Judge Parker (Gordon de Main) over the cattle owners. Because of this, there is an obvious rift between the cattle owners and homesteaders, which is only exacerbated when Matt’s brother Philip (Robert Seiter) returns home from college and now a practicing attorney. Philip eventually goes into cahoots with the judge to make sure the homesteaders continue to receive credit, at the cost of the cattle owners.

The first casualty is Parker himself when he attempts to remove burrs from Snowflake’s dog, Sparerib. When the cattlemen invade the center of town, not only does Parker get shot, but so does the poor dog. Called several times by Snowflake, Sparerib is gently lifted in his arms and covered with a piece of fabric at the blacksmith’s. Upon seeing Snowflake, Matt is puzzled, not used to seeing his helper cry. Snowflake tells Matt he wants justice for this crime, but Matt reassures him that it will come, but it must arrive through honest means. As the two men continue to work together, keeping their eyes and ears open about the murder of Judge Parker, Snowflake finds himself at the right place and time when he hears Philip, who has now taken his father’s place as judge, making a deal with Senator Graham (John Elliott) in extending further credit to the homesteaders. This deal happens to be in the form of signed legal documents, and the main key to seeking justice for Judge Parker’s death. Clever enough to catch on, Snowflake later confides this information to Matt as they are busy at their job, prompting Matt to enter the office at the rear of the general store and look for this document. Once Matt finds the piece of paper, Philip enters the office, the two men engage in a massive brawl where Philip is thrown across the room at a group of men, and justice begins, delivered by Matt himself. As minor a role Snowflake’s is, it is the most important part of the story, for had he not eyewitnessed Philip signing that document, Matt would have no knowledge of it – and not be able to talk Philip in escaping the deal he made with Graham.

Roamin’ Wild (1936)

"Roamin Wild"
Probably the most unique feature of “Roamin’ Wild” is that it has two minority groups teaming with the main hero, Tom Barton (Tom Tyler), in order to fight a much larger threat in Placerville. Tom is sent on assignment as an inspector to find out what happened to his brother Jim (Wally West) who was last seen near the area but mysteriously disappeared. Ambling along on his horse while playing the harmonica, Tom sees the road sign for Placerville and heads onward, when he suddenly observes a group of bandits who raid a traveling merchant. Abe Wineman (Max Davidson). With his goods strewn all over the trail, Tom approaches and demands to know what happened. Once Abe explains who he is, Tom demands payback from the bandits, ordering them to hand their guns over to Abe, who keeps them in exchange for the damage done to his business. Since Tom and Abe are headed in the same direction, they travel together to Placerville. Once they arrive, Tom offers Abe a job as a deputy to help find his lost brother, and close in on the operations of Ned Clark (Al Ferguson), the local crime lord. The biggest series of crimes has been against the Madison Stagecoach Company, robbing the goods carried on them. At one point the owner of the company, Jim Madison (Earl Dwire), is shot while defending one of his stagecoaches. When his daughter Mary (Carol Wyndham) inherits the company, she teams up with Tom to put an end to these robberies. Happy to gain even more local support, Tom deters the same group of bandits he ran into before at Wineman’s merchant wagon one more time: from robbing a group of Chinese men from the nearby Chinese Diggins settlement.
"Roamin Wild"
Acting out of gratitude towards Tom for preventing them from being robbed, these men invite Tom to their home for a meal. Once they discover they were followed back by Clark’s gang, they pull out their guns, effectively scaring them away with their sharp aim. At that moment Tom plans on escaping in order to return to Placerville, but his new Chinese friends show him a secret tunnel accessible through a trapdoor in the middle of the floor. Tom takes advantage of the tunnel, and goes back to Abe and Mary, devising a plan to trap Clark and his men – which he does successfully. With Clark and his gang out of commission and headed to jail, Tom thanks Abe, his Chinese friends, and Mary, who of course wants him to stay in Placerville with her. On a side note, actor Max Davidson was born in Berlin, Germany, on May 23, 1875 and got his start in American silent film comedy since 1915. Unfortunately, none of the Chinese actors are credited in “Roamin’ Wild”.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

When Two Heroes Meet: Tom Tyler and Abraham Lincoln

It is not too far-fetched at all to imagine a meeting of Tom Tyler with President Abraham Lincoln. While a number of Tom’s movies take place during Lincoln’s presidency, the one that most stands out is “Two Fisted Justice”. In this B-western from Trem Carr Pictures, Tom is Kentucky Carson, an agent on a special mission down south during the Civil War, sent by President Abraham Lincoln. The existing print of this movie is available from Sinister Cinema, but unfortunately is missing the reel which contains the famous meeting of Kentucky with President Lincoln. That is not to say we cannot conclude what this event actually looked like, for we have film stills, along with film synopses and descriptions from Hollywood trade publications, along with a film booklet from Spain, Biblioteca Films, that provides insight on this missing reel. On the positive side, a more complete 16mm print of “Two Fisted Justice” is at UCLA – which hopefully will be restored and digitized one day. In the meantime, let’s take a look at this scene where Kentucky Carson meets Abraham Lincoln before he receives a reprieve to free Cameron (John Elliott) who is about to be hanged for murdering Cheyenne Charlie (Pedro Regas), from the President himself. Considering the point where Kentucky receives this letter, the missing footage is from the beginning of the film, where he is called into Lincoln’s office. The two men shake hands, and Kentucky is deputized and sent out west during the Civil War to maintain peace along with his Poncho Riders.

In the Biblioteca Films title “Al que a hierro mata”, the Spanish title for “Two Fisted Justice”, President Lincoln issues a memo dated April 15, 1861, a means to eventually summon Kentucky Carson into the Oval Office – and in turn sends him to a post out in Kansas territory. The memo reads as follows:

“Fuerzas rebeldes han formado una confederación de los Estados del Sur, optando por la sesión de la Union.

“Las fuerzas de los territorios fronterizos han recibido órdenes de concentrarse en Washington.

“Los ciudadanos leales de dicho territotio se organizarán para mantener el orden y hacer cumplir la ley durante las emergencias, Hay que preservar la Unión!”

English translation:

“Rebel forces have formed a confederation of the Southern States, opting for the session of the Union.

“The forces of the border territories have been ordered to concentrate in Washington.

“The loyal citizens of said territory will be organized to maintain order and enforce the law during emergencies. We must preserve the Union!”

The exchange between Lincoln and Kentucky continues in the Oval Office:

El muchacho esperó a que Lincoln extendiera un salvaconducto y, antes de entregárselo, se lo leyó el presidente, diciéndole:

-Mire lo que dice; creo que con esto basta.

“El portador, Kentucky Carson, puede viajar y obrar como lo crea conveniente. Los officiales del gobierno federal deben prestarle apoyo. Comuníquese con el suscrito si se desea confirmar esta autorización. - A. Lincoln's

-Gracias, señor – exclamó Kentucky una vez que tuvo en su poder aquella autorización.

-Qué piensa hacer ahora? - le preguntó el presidente.

-Iré al territorio de Kansas. Allí hay mucho qué hacer, pero le prometo que lo mantendré en pas…

Pues buena suerte – le dijo el presidente despidiéndole. Ya sabe que hay que obrar con energía. Cada uno debe ser un héroe que exponga su vida.

In English:

The boy waited for Lincoln to extend a pass and, before handing it over, the president read it to him, saying:

“Look what he says; I think this is enough. The carrier, Kentucky Carson, can travel and act as he sees fit. The federal government officials must support him. Contact the undersigned if you wish to confirm this authorization.” - A. Lincoln

"Thank you, sir," exclaimed Kentucky once he had that authorization.

“What do you plan to do now?” the president asked him.

“I'll go to Kansas territory. There is a lot to do there, but I promise that I will keep it in country.”

“Well good luck”, said the president, saying goodbye. “You already know that you have a lot of work to do. Each man who risks his life is a hero.”

Precisely why Abraham Lincoln summoned Kentucky Carson to the Oval Office: because he knew Kentucky was of hero material who would not let the President nor his country down. It seems fitting that these two men should be meeting, under the circumstances they did, given their historical place in American History – and film history.

Released on October 20, 1931, “Two Fisted Justice” stayed in movie theatres long enough for the media to take advantage of the Lincoln factor to exhibit it near February 12 – President Lincoln’s Day, the day he was born on in 1809. The New York State Exhibitor states that this movie “ an ideal attraction for Lincoln's Birthday, what with sequences depicting Tyler and the martyred President.” (January 10, 1932). Movie trivia about American Presidents in film and who portrayed them may be a fun and interesting topic of conversation, but how many people today know that Abraham Lincoln was depicted in a B-western, and one that starred Tom Tyler? Mention this to someone interested in Lincoln and who portrayed him, and the answer would be Joseph Mills.

Due to the movie’s human nature side plus the presidential element, “Two Fisted Justice” was one of the few early Tom Tyler movies to be exhibited in France, under the title “Seul Contre Tous”, dubbed in French. A full page ad for this movie even appeared in Hebdo Film, July 9, 1932. Other publicity materials for “Two Fisted Justice” also appeared in Spain and Poland. “Two Fisted Justice” was one of Tom Tyler’s more important movies of the early 1930’s, with the Civil War, President Lincoln, and justice concepts which dominate the plot. Considering the reach of “Two Fisted Justice”, it can be asked if President Lincoln himself would want to meet Tom Tyler after viewing the movie. There is the strong possibility that he would.

From Hebdo Film, July 9, 1932

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The National Film Registry Nominations 2019

It is that time of the year once again! The Library of Congress is accepting nominations for the National Film Registry. The deadline for nominations is September 15, 2019. It is your duty as a devoted Tom Tyler film fan to suggest his best films for inclusion on this list. Ideally, “Adventures of Captain Marvel”, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”, and “The Phantom” should be on the list but of course you may suggest any movies Tom starred in – surprise us and the Library of Congress!

The following movies Tom Tyler appeared in are already in 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

The nomination form is here:

The complete listing of films in the National Film Registry which also include the ones for last year, 2018:

Thank you to everyone who submits Tom’s movies to the LOC National Film Registry!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Boys and Girls! It’s Tom Tyler!

Tom with boy and girl co-stars in "Idaho Red", 1929
All too often a film historian of B-westerns will write about how popular a star was with the red-blooded American boys but rarely, if ever, mention the star’s popularity with girl cinema patrons. Yet female interest in Tom Tyler long pre-dates his stage name, when he was still a growing young man in Hamtramck, Michigan. As Vincent Markowski, his sister Katherine would often comment to their family, friends and neighbors how good looking he was – and he certainly was – to the point of all girls  in town close to his age would be drawn to his looks, often staring at him while walking down the street (The Tom Tyler Story, by Mike Chapman). It goes without saying Tom Tyler’s physical appearance certainly helped him become a star in Hollywood, along with his acting skills and overall demeanor. To a large degree, Tom’s good looks had a continuous appeal to the female gender many decades later, long after he died in 1954. Females in the twenty-first century found him attractive and sweet enough to give him an exclusive little spot in cyberspace, but was Tom Tyler’s movies of the silent film era and early talkies specifically marketed to just boys? Or were girls included on equal footing?

From Shamokin News Dispatch,
Shamokin, PA, March 30, 1929
Surprisingly enough, it was just as common for girls to be a target marketed audience as boys were, according to many Hollywood trade publications and newspaper cinema listings. There are a few reasons for this: Tom Tyler’s level of attractiveness to the opposite gender, but also because many girls received a weekly allowance from their parents which meant enough money to attend the matinee (which usually cost between a dime to twenty cents in the mid- to late 1920’s and early 1930’s). Many cinema listings in the local newspapers included “Boys and girls...” in black and white to draw their attention to the latest Tom Tyler film being shown. At the Victoria theatre in Shamokin, PA, a cinema listing for "Terror Mountain" also advertised free toy musical instruments to the first 500 boys and girls in attendance. Because the date of the ad was the day before Easter in 1929, live bunnies were also available for the children.

One exhibitor took advantage of Tom's image, posting a large photo of him in the lobby of the Jewel Theatre in Verndale, Minnesota (Exhibitor's Herald, November 27, 1926) for the showing of "The Arizona Streak”, knowing that the girls were interested in seeing what he looked like. Another exhibitor in St. Cloud, Florida, commented that the girls raved quite a bit over Tom and how attractive he is, at the showing of "Wild to Go" (Exhibitor's Herald, October 2, 1926). With the silent film being in full force by the time Tom Tyler became a star, memorabilia was also easily accessible in the form of arcade and exhibit cards, stills, and of course the ever-popular request for an autographed photo of the handsome leading man.

From Middletown Times Herald,
Middletown, NY, October 9, 1941
Girls would often take part in contests held at the neighborhood cinema, and be actively involved with any events, usually held in the lobby. During Christmas time, many a theatre would encourage both boys and girls to bring in an unwrapped toy or food to be given to the needy, in many cases, through The Salvation Army.

Likewise it was not just American boys who idolized and wanted to meet him – and sometimes did, when Tom shot on location as he did in “Tracy Rides” (Reading Times, Reading, PA, May 28, 1934). Being swarmed by both adults and children wanting to see the filming on the sidelines was exciting – and who did not want to see Tom Tyler up close and in person at the height of his career? The best part of all being, what girl would not be bragging to her friends at school that she met Tom in person during a filming? It was exciting events like this which encouraged and preserved Tom’s popularity in decades to come. While American girls enjoyed Tom Tyler’s movies when they were first exhibited in cinemas across the nation, future generations of his female fans (one of them happens to run the Aventuras de Tom Tyler website and blog) appreciate this timeless man and his work that was meant to be cherished.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Tom Tyler in "Weird Western"

I am very happy to report the following news: Dario Lavia, a regular on the Facebook and Twitter social media pages for Aventuras de Tom Tyler, is working on a re-edition of the book “Weird Western” which includes the mention of Tom Tyler’s silent films such as “Tyrant of Red Gulch”. Many thanks to Dario for giving the credit to the blog article “Lost in translation: How ‘Tyrant of Red Gulch’ became ‘The Sorcerer’ across the pond” which he mentions in this silent film entry in “Weird Western”, as well as a link to the blog in his entry (free publicity is always welcome). For those interested in purchasing a copy of Weird Western when it is published, the information can be found here. Dario is the owner of Cinefania, a website devoted to fantasy/science fiction/horror films.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

"Phantom of the Air" to be released by VCI Entertainment

Some good news with regards to Tom Tyler film serial releases: “Phantom of the Air” will be released within the next year (possibly later on this year) by VCI Entertainment. VCI already offers a number of Tom Tyler 1930’s westerns as well as Three Mesquiteers films on DVD. More details will follow as they come up, plus of course a notice on the website once it is available for purchase. “Phantom of the Air” is a 12-chapter Universal film serial from 1933 which also stars Gloria Shea, LeRoy Mason, William Desmond, and Sidney Bracey.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Tom Tyler's Captain Marvel costume

The very first silver screen Captain Marvel, as portrayed by Tom Tyler, had a superhero costume that was custom made for his muscular physique, which he displayed to perfection during the filming of the Republic Pictures serial. The costume itself was gray instead of red so that it would film better in black and white. Unlike many superhero costumes, this one was not padded in the biceps, for Tom Tyler certainly did not need any emphasis with his champion weightlifting build. While the colors were slightly different, the form-fitting costume was still identical in detail to the red and yellow costume that Captain Marvel wore in the comic books. The four-piece costume consisted of a half-length white cape with the gold braid designs upon it, in addition to the gold lightning bolt upon the chest, six gold bands at the cuffs on each arm, and gold belt. The tunic is of gray wool, with the front flap buttoned at the upper right shoulder. The lower half of the costume, which resembled tights with feet, were in the same color gray to match the tunic. The boots were yellow in color, with the standard top fold. It seems like nothing was missing from Tom Tyler’s Captain Marvel costume, right down to the very last detail. Little information exists as to who created the costume and sewed it, although existing copies have a “Western Costume” stamp inside the collar. Naturally, stuntman Dave Sharpe wore the identical costume matched to fit his frame for all of the fancy leaps and backflips in “Adventures of Captain Marvel”.

As with most cinematic wardrobes, several versions of the Captain Marvel costume were made, which have sold at auction sites online like eBay. According to “The Tom Tyler Story” by Mike Chapman, one of the original Captain Marvel costumes described above was listed at a market price of $10,000.00 – ten times the amount of money Tom was paid to play the superhero in the film serial. Today, the costume remains at a market price between that amount and $15,000.00 – not bad for its being the very first superhero costumes made for film, even before that of Superman’s.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Say the magic word: Shazam!

Based on the 2011 DC Justice League The New 52 story by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, “Shazam!”  manages to combine not only the origin story as narrated by these two gentlemen, but also the comedy elements of the early Captain Marvel stories in Whiz Comics since 1939, and superhero growing pains, bringing the C. C. Beck and Bill Parker creation up to date in the 21st century.

After several aborted attempts to get the movie made, “Shazam!” finally debuted in cinemas worldwide during the first weekend of April 2019. Directed by David F. Sandberg, and written by Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke, the DC movie stars Zachary Levi as Captain Marvel and Asher Angel as Billy Batson.  There is a yin-yang between comedy in the early comic books by Fawcett Publications since 1938 and The New 52 dark universe, with no shortage of special effects from playfully cast lightning by Captain Marvel to the animated looming Seven Deadly Sins, ready to unleash havoc courtesy of Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).

Zachary Levi with Mark Strong in "Shazam!" 2019
“Shazam!” introduces the background story of Thad Sivana, a miniature monster in the making who causes a serious car accident, almost killing his brother and father, who is the owner of a major conglomerate. Young Thad ends up journeying to The Rock of Eternity where he encounters the wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou), only to find himself discarded by the ancient mage who is seeking a young boy to succeed him. Once Thad is sent back to his immediate present, castigated by his father, he then spends the rest of his trying to regain access to the mysterious location which remains concealed by magic. In steps Billy Batson, whose life story is also told in a brief flashback before he finds himself adopted by Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa (Marta Milans) Vasquez, who are foster parents to five other children. Billy quickly becomes close to Freddy Freeman, who is slightly younger than him, plus Mary Bromfield, who is on the verge of graduating from high school and applying to colleges. Still unsatisfied with his position in life as a teen, Billy continues to seek out his real mother, eventually finding her. To his shock, Billy learns that his mother, who does not make good choices when it comes to boyfriends, was in her teens when she had him, and that his father is in jail in Florida.

Once Billy discovers himself in the role of a superhero after making the same journey to The Rock of Eternity and becomes the Chosen One by the wizard Shazam, he is not fully aware of the potential of his new abilities; he does not know what he can really do, although he delights in generating electricity, using it to charge people’s cell phones as he walks past them in public. Captain Marvel continues to go about his daily routine, accompanied by Freddy most of the time while preventing crimes such as handbag thief and a convenience store holdup. Once Captain Marvel discovers who his main enemy is – Dr. Sivana – he must engage in the most important battle of his life – leaving his childhood behind temporarily to save the world from destruction. At this point, it is the wisdom of Solomon that really kicks in to Billy when he learns how to remove the evil magical force from Sivana.

“Shazam!” references Tawky Tawny the tiger, in the form of the plush toy tigers prizes at the balloon and dart booth during the Christmas Carnival, along with Mr Mind, the worm during the early part of the movie, characters in the original Whiz Comics publications. What is noteworthy in “Shazam!” is that like “Adventures of Captain Marvel”, the superhero’s name is never formally introduced to the audience; it even goes further to never refer to him as Captain Marvel at all, possibly to avoid confusion with the Marvel Comics “Captain Marvel” movie released only weeks before “Shazam!” Instead a variety of nicknames are given to him: Captain Sparklefingers, even more simply- hero. Billy is only supposed to say the word Shazam in times of need, not as a means to impress others around him, certainly not himself. At one point Freddy speaks to his foster brother Billy like an authoritarian figure, much like Jackson Bostwick’s Captain Marvel, or even John Davey’s Captain Marvel from the 1974-1977 television series “Shazam!” Billy might be Captain Marvel yet even after his initiation, still has to work hard on understanding the powers bestowed upon him and the responsibilities that come with having these powers, the properties of the thoughtforms who have seemed to disappeared in the distant past of human history (or did they?). Zachary Levi, at age 38, looks younger than his age, and with his “big kid” personality, really does come off as a 14 year-old inside his 6’3” frame. Like Tom Tyler in “Adventures of Captain Marvel” (1941), he pulls the same expression,  looking at himself then his surroundings. Yet the resemblance to Tom’s Captain Marvel stops there, reverting back to more childlike superhero as he was originally intended to be in Fawcett Publications rather than a World War 2 era superhero who uses a machine gun to vanquish his enemies, and throwing them off tall buildings.

Mark Strong pulls off a formidable Sivana, able to unleash the Seven Deadly Sins whenever he chooses, using his demon eye which glows blue. At times he takes on the appearance of Aleister Crowley(early 20th century ceremonial magician and founder of Thelema) on steroids. Unlike the comic book Sivana who is short in height, Mark Strong is 6’2” in height, making him a substantial physical adversary of Captain Marvel. The movie soundtrack includes Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” which plays as Freddy tests Billy’s new powers as Captain Marvel, and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” sung by Bing Crosby during the Christmas holiday with the Vasquez family. The top-notch production team of “Shazam!” includes Peter Safran, Geoff Johns and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

How many families do you know of who discuss superheroes and their various powers at the supper table?

Collectibles: Aventuras de Tom Tyler fan fiction series

Probably one of the rarest paper film collectible on Tom Tyler coming out of Spain is the twenty-one issue booklet set, Aventuras de Tom Tyler. Arranged and written as a serial, these booklets measure 6 ½” x 9 3/4” in size, made from newspaper quality paper and published by El Gato Negro, Barcelona Spain during the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. Each issue is eight pages long and contains two black and white illustrations.

Unlike the Biblioteca Films film booklets, Aventuras de Tom Tyler is an early type of fan fiction based on the American actor Tom Tyler. Each issue has a masthead with an illustration of Tom at the left and the words Aventuras de Tom Tyler in red and black, along with “El Rey de los Cow-Boys” underneath, against a yellow sky, with a desert and mountain at the bottom. Below the masthead is a full color comic book style illustration of Tom in an exciting scene from the story inside. These scenes include the following: Tom being tied to a runaway

Tom Tyler is not the only American actor to get a series of fan fiction created in his name; El Gato Negro also published series with Shirley Temple and Tom Mix in a similar format.


Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Hero in the Role of a Patient

Among the most poignant scenes in Tom Tyler’s movies are those where he is being attended to by a woman (usually a young and pretty one) nursing him back to health when his character is injured in some manner. These story aspects inject vulnerability into the virile, strong and handsome heroes Tom is known for portraying but also provide a glimpse into his real life health issues aside from his battle with scleroderma. For example, he had a serious cold which held up filming “The Sonora Kid” (1927); his second major illness was dealing with the flu while filming “Clancy of the Mounted” (1933). This article will explore Tom’s heroes in the role of patient in “Call of the Desert”, “Galloping Thru”, “The Forty Niners”, and “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”.

"Call of the Desert" (1930)
In “Call of the Desert,” Tom is Rex Carson, a prospector seeking his father’s claim but his companion Tod Walker (Bud Osborne) absconds with the map which depicts the location of the claim. Once Tod feigns illness, forcing Tom to carry him during a good portion of the trip, the two men fight on the snowy ground. Tod absconds with the map and ends up deserting Rex. Rex has to walk by himself through the cold wintry desert, eventually falling ill before he collapses in the snow. Here, a cowboy named Hardrock (Bobby Dunn) has made camp under a large tree where the snowline ends, and takes Rex in, eventually traveling towards the ranch lands in order to get medical help. With Rex slung across a horse’s back, Hardrock and two men arrive at the Walker Ranch – and is nursed back to
"Call of the Desert" (1930)
health by Jean Walker (Sheila Le Gay), the nominal owner of the ranch. Rex is removed from the horse by the two men, gently laid on the ground, his eyes closed, looking angelic with his delicate brows as Jean looks at his face romantically. She directs the two men to carry him inside and lay him on the bed in the guest room, instructing one of them to get some medicine from the cabinet in the kitchen. Jean personally administers the medicine to Rex, as he lay on the bed, eyes still closed but lips slightly open. She gently props Rex’s head so that he could take the medicine with some water without choking. Jean looks lovingly into Rex’s face when he starts to recover, his eyes opening wide. She becomes totally enchanted with him at this point, his clear brown eyes softening, smiling as she leaves him with his pal Hardrock and lets him sleep so that he gets well quickly. At this point it should be remembered that as Tom Tyler was entering his last stage with scleroderma, he went home to Hamtramck, Michigan, to live with his sister Katherine, who gave him hospice. No man is too brave or strong to endure illness, temporary or permanent, to not seek the gentle and empathetic healing touch from a woman.

"Galloping Thru" (1931)
It is not always illness that has Tom receiving medical attention from someone he deeply cares for. In “Galloping Thru” (1931), Tom McGuire is wounded by a gang of outlaws, abandoned on a trail – the same outlaws who shot his father dead. When his body is found by a friend, Sandy Thompson (Al Bridge), Tom is taken to the home of Janice Warren (Betty Mack) who along with Sandy provides him with medical attention so that he can recover and get back on his feet to hunt down the outlaws responsible for his father’s death. “Galloping Thru” remains a lost film although film stills and lobby cards exist showing Tom being in bed, covered by white sheets and given medication by Betty Mack while he is smiling, his face expressing content, knowing that he will in fact be in top health once again.

"The Forty Niners" (1932)
Tom becomes a shooting victim once again in “The Forty Niners” (1932). Tennessee Matthews is on a journey with a group of friends who are headed to California to cash in on the gold fever. Unlike the previous movie, however, Tennessee is given aid in the back of a covered wagon, tended to by Widow Spriggs (Fern Emmett), a woman old enough to be his mother, adding the maternal touch to his recovery. Leaning back comfortably with his shirt off, against pillows and protected with mosquito netting, Tennessee awakens after the primitive surgery to remove the bullet from his shoulder, and sees Widow Spriggs sitting next to him. Conscious of being bare on top in front of her, Tennessee asks her where his shirt is. Thinking that he might be seeking the rose that Virginia (Betty Mack) gave him from her rosebush, the widow tells him that the flower has fallen apart, leading to a certain disappointment in Tennessee’s face – as Virginia is his romantic interest. In reality, Tennessee has not lost Virginia’s love, despite the fact O’Hara (Al Bridge) has tried to claim her for his own.

"She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (1949)
Speaking of a maternal figure nursing Tom Tyler, the theme is repeated again in “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” (1949) where his character, Corporal Mike Quayne, is injured by a marauding band of Indians as Captain Nathan Brittles (John Wayne) leads his final army patrol out west to counterattack them. Once Mike is laid up in the covered wagon, prepped for surgery, Abby Allshard (Mildred Natwick), the wife of Major Mac Allshard (George O’Brien), is the trained nurse, sitting by his side. She pours a glass of whiskey for Mike to imbibe in order to deaden the pain before Dr. O'Laughlin (Arthur Shields) removes the bullet from his chest. After a brief rousing of the cavalry song between Abby and Mike, he falls unconscious while the doctor quickly does his task before bandaging up the patient. Abby remains by Mike’s side during the entire time, which transpires during the covered wagon on the western trail during a major thunderstorm. It is difficult to imagine a troop of men on a dangerous mission without having a doctor and nurse present, and the covered wagon surgery scene is in fact the most memorable one in the movie. Even though Tom Tyler is not the leading man hero in this movie – that title is reserved for John Wayne – he is the first hero who falls victim to the Indian attacks and recovers. A previous blog article mentioning this event is located here in further depth.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

The global reach of “Adventures of Captain Marvel”

A one sheet from Denmark
“Adventures of Captain Marvel” has long been considered the greatest film serial ever made, at least here in the United States, but what might even be considered more fascinating is the global impact upon the most popular selling comic book superhero of the 1940's, Captain Marvel. By the time Republic Pictures released “Adventures of Captain Marvel” in 1941 – and this was due to the early success of Captain Marvel – other countries shortly followed suit, cashing in on America's most beloved superhero.

Outside of a few restrictions during 1941 to 1945 – the time span which “Adventures of Captain Marvel” hit the global market – the film serial was earnestly accepted and shown by film exhibitors in  countries most of us would not immediately think of. With thanks to film collectibles websites, along with foreign newspaper archives, mentions of “Adventures of Captain Marvel” have popped up from some surprising countries. One sheet posters of this film serial were manufactured in faraway places like Turkey, Pakistan, and India. Newspaper cinema ads for “Adventures of Captain Marvel” appeared in Indonesia, Iceland, and what was then called Malaya (Malaysia), sometimes as late as 1950. For the majority of these cinema ads they either retained their American English title, or became simply Captain Marvel. Even the re-release of the serial under the title “Return of Captain Marvel” made its way around the globe. Colorful, imaginative lobby cards bearing the title “El Regreso del Capitan Maravilla” were released in Mexico, many of them later making their way into the American market as prized film collectibles.

A one sheet from Pakistan
Following is a partial list of other nations where “Adventures of Captain Marvel” was seen during its first run in movie theatres:

Argentina - Capitan Maravilla Poderoso
Australia – Adventures of Captain Marvel
Belgium – Capitain Marvel
Brazil – O Homen de Aço
Canada – Adventures of Captain Marvel
Curacao – Adventures of Captain Marvel
Denmark - Kaptajn Marvels Bedrifter
Iceland – Captain Marvel
India – Adventures of Captain Marvel, in both English and Hindi.
Indonesia – Adventures of Captain Marvel
Malaysia/Malaya -  Adventures of Captain Marvel (Malaya Tribune Oct 28, 1947)
Mexico - Capitan Maravilla/Las Aventuras del Capitan Maravilla
New Zealand – Adventures of Captain Marvel
Pakistan – Captain Marvel. The one sheet from this country also has “Captain Marvel” in both English, and Urdu, which utilizes a modified Persian-Arabic alphabet.
Spain – Aventuras del Capitan Maravillas
Turkey – Şazem Uçan Adam

From Java Bode, Batavia (Jakarta), Indonesia, July 19, 1950

Sunday, March 3, 2019

"Jungle Mystery" 1932 to DVD petition

March 3, 2019 marks the launch of a new film petition: “Jungle Mystery” (1932) starring Tom Tyler and Cecilia Parker. It has been four years since Universal Pictures preservation department restored this 12 chapter serial plus the 75 minute long feature cutdown. 2019 is the perfect year for “Jungle Mystery” to make it to DVD, what with last year’s "Adventures of Captain Marvel" (1941) Blu-ray release by Kino, and additional resurfaced “lost films” of Tom Tyler within that short length of time. Four years does not seem that long but it has been an exciting journey in rediscovering these movies. Aventuras de Tom Tyler is all about the celebration of Tom Tyler and rediscovering his lost films, because he is worth it, and the time has come for movies like “Jungle Mystery” to be seen by the public all over the world.

A huge thank you to everyone who signs this petition. Please share this petition link with as many people as you know, in film groups, film forums you are a member of, and we can get this done.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The film going atmosphere counts too

A view of the display in the website owner's media room.
For the youngsters on their way to the Saturday matinee to enjoy the next Tom Tyler western during the 1930’s, plus a cartoon or two, and a film serial chapter, did not mean the immediate surroundings had to be bland. Many times film exhibitors of the independent cinemas and neighborhood cinema houses would take a cue from the Hollywood trade publications on what might provide visual appeal to the targeted audience. As an example, a film review in Motion Picture Times October 6, 1931 for "The Man from Death Valley” provided suggestions to film exhibitors (that is, cinemas) to really get into the part for this Tom Tyler film. Some of these suggestions include placing a cactus in the lobby by the inner door to the auditorium, or other western decor such as a saddle along with a lasso, or hang western art from the ceiling. Such items perfectly complemented the movie posters in their display cases. Due to the popularity of B-westerns during the above mentioned decades, many of the above named cinemas had a number of inexpensive items on hand just for that purpose, to add a little atmosphere in the lobby to enhance the movie-going experience. Those who looked forward to viewing these westerns could feel right at home, with the sense of community being retained. Many an older family member might tell the younger generation stories of how these independent cinemas would run admission price specials, or Depression glass night, or even local food drives being held in order to boost patronage. At one point, over 2,000 of these cinemas across America would take part in these promotions. Non-film promotional events, unlike the previously mentioned elegant cinema palaces, these independent and neighborhood cinemas had the liberty to decorate the lobby to promote the film being shown on that particular day.

The cinema patrons who have had the opportunity to view the latest Tom Tyler movie – and in the brand-new format called sound, or in film lingo, talkie – and took note of how the lobby was decorated just for the occasion, would tell their family and friends about it as a way of encouraging them to see the movie too. The idea of a movie house being decorated in a specific manner to add to the film viewing experience seems far fetched, but not when one stops to realize that many modern homes with a media room is decorated in a very similar manner.

Reference: “American Movie Audiences of the 1930s”, by Richard Butsch. ILWCH #59, Spring 2001

Saturday, February 16, 2019

A voice perfect for talkies: Tom Tyler in “West of Cheyenne”

Tom Tyler in "West of Cheyenne" 1931
Once Tom Tyler’s silent film career finally wound down by the end of 1930 – his last one being “Canyon of Missing Men” for Syndicate Pictures –  he had to adjust to the brand-new invention known as synchronized sound film, better known as talkies in order to keep his career going. By 1930, most cinemas made the transition to sound pictures but Tom was not quite ready for it. He held out on the new sound pictures for as long as he could, reportedly due to his foreign accent, according to his friend and screenwriter Oliver Drake, as mentioned in “The Tom Tyler Story” by Mike Chapman. Even though Tom Tyler was born in America (his birth name was Vincent [Wincenty] Markowski), like many children of recent European immigrants, spoke his native language at home while speaking English outside the family. Cinema patrons who never had the opportunity to meet Tom Tyler in person and listen to him speak could only imagine what his voice sounded like at the height of his silent film career. Tom Tyler was after all the epitome of outdoors virility in Hollywood, should he not also have the perfect voice to match his looks, personality and physical strength?

In fact, Tom Tyler did indeed have a voice that met the above qualifications and made him perfect for talkies. Once he got together with one of Drake’s friends, J. Frank Glendon, taking a series of enunciation lessons in order to lose his accent. As with the horseback riding lessons in order to get that star contract with FBO in 1925, Tom worked hard at his enunciation, and after making one test talkie short for Pathé in 1930, “Half Pint Polly”, was well on his way to successfully transitioning to talkies. “West of Cheyenne” was a milestone in Tom Tyler’s career, probably just as exciting for him as for when he made “Let’s Go Gallagher” in 1925, his first starring role in a silent film. The story was simple enough in Tom’s first talkie, about a young man whose father was framed for murder and held captive in a forbidden town known as Ghost City. Written by Bernard Cohen and Oliver Drake, the movie was produced and directed by Harry S. Webb, who would continue to direct a number of Tom Tyler movies in the 1930’s, sometimes using the name Henri Samuels.

With the release of “West of Cheyenne”, Tom’s voice was stressed in press kits, obviously to encourage fans and cinema patrons in general to attend showings of this movie. Even film reviews like the one in Variety March 4, 1931 which describes the plot in “West of Cheyenne” as somewhat of a routine western, touts Tom Tyler’s voice as being the best part of the movie. It is doubtful that Tom Tyler’s first talkie was a put off for those who have long appreciated and admired his work. Perhaps the most important question was, “How distinct was Tom’s voice?” to those who have never heard him speak on film. In response to that question, the answer is, “very distinct” - distinct enough to pick out on a radio show, had Tom been a radio actor. In the newspapers, cinema ads described Tom’s voice as splendid (The Amarillo Globe-Times, Amarillo, TX, October 9, 1931). For those of us who take sound film for granted, the majority of us having been born during the sound era, it may be hard to imagine the pleasant surprise of hearing Tom Tyler speak for the first time in a movie. Along with the usual treats of action, hard riding, hard fighting, and moments of tenderness with his leading lady Josephine Hill, Tom Tyler never disappoints.