Saturday, July 12, 2014

Accidentally Hilarious: The Terror of Tiny Town

This is my contribution to the Accidently Hilarious Blogathon hosted by Movies Silently. Click HERE to read about sidesplitting cinematic misadventures of the unintentionally hilarious kind.

Jeff Buell owned his midgets?
The Terror of Tiny Town (1938)
Before we go any further, please accept my apologies – apologies for all of the politically incorrectness that must follow in order to discuss this film.

Music! Shetland Ponies! Midgets! Love!
So, in 1938 some grade Z producers must have been sitting around thinking – okay, you have your niche films – there are the negro films, the Spanish films, your Yiddish film…what can we come up with? Hey! How about a midget film? And just for good measure, let’s make it a western. With music. And let's get the schlockies director in town - Sam Newfield. And so, the terrible thing that is “The Terror of Tiny Town” was born.

Now, I know the word “midget” is wrong, but I’m going with it here because the cast is billed as Jed Buell’s Midgets. It seems Jed owned them... or not. Actually, a lot of the actors got jobs the following year in “The Wizard of Oz,” as part of the Singer Midgets, so I guess Jed did not have a corner on them.

Little drunks need big beers

Tiny Town is a Western town populated solely by midget cowboys and the like. Oddly, all of the town’s structures are built for people of average height. So, when a midget cowboy walks into the saloon, he either walks under the swinging doors or reaches above him to open the doors – macho style. And when he bellies up to the bar he uses a step stool. The barber keeps a giant comb behind his ear. They do, however, ride ponies rather than horses. Let me add that they do not ride well and at times look as though they are holding on to those little Shetlands for dear life. I guess there were no midget stunt riders available.

Of course, midgets are like you and I – there are good ones (who wear white hats), bad ones (who wear black hats) and corrupt ones (who wear a lawman’s star). There are also pretty damsels in distress. The plot could have been lifted from any one of any low budget singing western of the era. The bad guy (Bat Haines) tries to stir up trouble between 2 ranchers, but is brought to justice by the good man (Buck Lawson) in the white hat (who also gets the pretty girl, Nancy – who, at one point, runs under a desk instead of around it when leaving the room). Naturally, there is a saloon girl vamp, but there is also a penguin (don’t ask) and a duck who walks backwards (again, please don’t ask). The only average-sized human in the whole production is the guy who comes out before a curtain and introduces this whole shebang to us.

A western saloon would not be complete without a vamp

Check out the musical saloon scene with the big bass fiddle.

Oh, who are we kidding? This is a freak show. The acting is god awful, the premise is insulting and watching too long could cause your eyes to bleed. However, with the right mood/mind altering refreshments, it begins to look a bit like the Little Rascals story you never saw and could provide an hour or so of unintentional hilarity.


DorianTB said...

Marsha, THE TERROR OF TINY TOWN is one of those so-bad-it's-good movies you have to see to believe at least once, just to prove you weren't hallucinating! You had me chuckling in spite of myself -- you're a brave woman! :-D

Fritzi Kramer said...

I, for one, would pay cold hard cash if there was some way I could hear the conversation that led up to this movie being made ;-)
I agree, what is up with the town being so... unfriendly to the size of its citizens? Couldn't they install permanent stepladders?

Anyway, thank so much for the review and joining the fun!

The Lady Eve said...

I'm not usually at a loss for words, but pretty much everything you've said about The Terror of Tiny Town leaves me speechless, thinking "You've got to be kidding!"

The mind reels...

Anonymous said...

This sounds terribly wonderful. Your review made me laugh and laugh - I can't wait to watch it.


Whoa. I had heard about this movie twice, but now that you reviewed it, I have the strange urge to see it so I can believe in the penguin and the duck that walks backwards. Maybe when I have enough courage.
Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon!

Silver Screenings said...

Really? This is an actual movie? However, I can imagine the brainstorming for a new niche movie unfolding exactly as you imagined.

Needless to say, I feel compelled to watch this – if only to see the penguin. What Western would be complete without antarctic birds?