The Terror Of Tiny Town

  • 1938
  • 1 HR 02 MIN
  • NR
  • Western

One of the strangest ideas ever put film: A stock B-western with a cast comprised entirely of midgets (with the exception of the announcer of the prologue). Buell, who produced the first all-black Western, HARLEM ON THE PRAIRIE (1937), wanted to create another novelty film that would capture the public's attention. The result was the first all-midget movie...read more

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One of the strangest ideas ever put film: A stock B-western with a cast comprised entirely of midgets (with the exception of the announcer of the prologue). Buell, who produced the first all-black Western, HARLEM ON THE PRAIRIE (1937), wanted

to create another novelty film that would capture the public's attention. The result was the first all-midget movie and, as can be expected, the gimmick peters out long before the film is over. The story itself is standard B-western material. Tiny Town is a peaceful village until bad guy Bat Haines (Little Billy Rhodes) tries to stir up some ranch wars. He hopes the feuding families will kill each other, thus leaving their land free for him to claim. Buck Lawson (Billy Curtis), the pint-sized good guy in white, catches on to Bat's nefarious schemes and patches up ill feelings the notorious badman

has caused. After exposing Bat to the townspeople, Buck meets up with his foe. Bat retreats to a log cabin where Buck puts a final stop to the outlaw's plans by blowing up the cabin with a stick of dynamite. This being a formula western, Buck also has a girl friend (the virginal Moray), while Bat gets his affections from a dance-hall girl (Nita Krebs). As westerns go, this is about average for plot, character, and production values. However, Buell's use of midgets as novelty items is another story. His cast rides around on Shetland ponies but the hitching posts

are just beyond reach. Rough-and-tough cowboys enter the bar by walking beneath the swinging doors. Playing on his cast's deformities for laughs, Buell exhibits more cruelty than anything else. The whole point behind this seems to be that midgets unable to reach things and singing in high-pitched

voices are hilariously funny. Because Hollywood lacked the number of midgets needed to round out his cast, Buell advertised for actors around the country, promising "Big Salaries for Little People." He finally assembled a cast of 60 whose average height was about 3'8" (many went on to appear in THE WIZARD OF OZ). The film was produced at a

cost of $100,000 and was fairly successful at the box office. Buell was inspired by this reception and announced plans for an entire series of midget movies. The first film was to be a retelling of the Paul Bunyan legend with a full-sized actor in the lead role. Fortunately, these plans never came to fruition.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: One of the strangest ideas ever put film: A stock B-western with a cast comprised entirely of midgets (with the exception of the announcer of the prologue). Buell, who produced the first all-black Western, HARLEM ON THE PRAIRIE (1937), wanted to create an… (more)

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