The terrible and the good
Steven Hellerstedt | 07/12/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"* - WACKIEST WAGON TRAIN IN THE WEST (1976)
A three episode compilation movie of something called `Dusty's Trail', a Bob Denver television series that ran for one season, 1973. Co-created by `Gilligan's Island' creator Sherwood Schwartz it's pretty much `Gilligan's Island' on the range. Dusty is a bumbling yet lovable scout, Mr. Callahan (Forrest Tucker) is the burly yet lovable wagon master. Along for the ride is a millionaire and his wife, a sweet brunette, a saucy dance hall girl, and a know-it-all regular guy. Boy, there's an original combination! No story line in this one, just repeated excuses for one lame brained slapstick routine after the other. If watching Dusty get pulled off a buckboard because he forgot to latch the seat, or try and fail to get on a horse, or get chased by a man in a bear suit strikes you as funny then look no farther. From someone who never got the appeal of `Gilligan's Island' I thought this one was just dreadful
* - FAIR PLAY (1972)
Yet another dreadful made-for-tv movie. FAIR PLAY was directed by James A. Sullivan, who directed one other movie - `Night Fright', a low-rated John Agar vehicle from 1967 - and was editor on what some consider the worst movie ever made, `Manos the Hands of Fate.' FAIR PLAY stars veteran character actor Paul Ford as the hotel owning western uncle of a visiting eastern greenhorn. The plot, as far as I could tell, had something to do with a store owner trying to brew trouble between Ford and a local mine owner. Extremely un-funny and close to unwatchable. Filled with tired, cliché ridden characters. Paul Ford was a good character actor with a solid résumé - whatever induced him to star in this turkey is beyond me. An embarrassment that gets one-star only because this site doesn't allow me to give it any fewer.
**** - TERROR OF TINY TOWN (1938)
One of the strangest exploitation films ever made. Directed by Sam Newfield, a prolific (272 career movies directed), anonymous and undistinguished Hollywood veteran who'd already directed about 120 movies when he helmed this one. Odd, too, that it was distributed by Columbia Pictures. Of course, the gag is that the movie features an all-midget cast. The plot would have been very familiar to a 30's audience - the bad guy is rustling cattle simultaneously from two feuding families, causing the firebrands in the feuding families to wrongly suspect the other family which, the bad guy hopes, will lead to an open range war. In other words a familiar b-western plot, the kind of movie Newfield was then churning out with numbing regularity. Billy Curtis as `The Hero' and Little Billy Rhodes as `The Villain' are pretty credible. Curtis even gets a chance to unsling his guitar and serenade `The Girl' (Yvonne Moray) in the grand tradition of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. TERROR OF TINY TOWN does use the cast's short stature for comic effect now and then - it takes two cowboys to play an upright bass, a bartender empties a glass of beer in one take, and half the crew can walk under the swinging doors of the bar without ducking - but with no large person in the cast I found the novelty of an all-midget cast wear off some and the acting and action take over. Believe it or not Billy Curtis makes a pretty convincing singing cowboy hero. Minus the novelty TERROR OF TINY TOWN was a decent enough b-western. I liked it quite a bit more than I thought I would.
I bought this dvd because, at the time, it was the only way to get TERROR OF TINY TOWN, a movie I'd been looking for for a while. I liked TERROR, but WACKIEST WAGON TRAIN and FAIR PLAY were terrible movies, time wasters of the worst sort. The two-stars I give this disk is simple addition (* + * + ****) and division by three.
The Terror of Tiny Town
G. McMillan | Holts Summit, Mo | 01/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the best western B movies. If you like a tiny western. If you havent seen this move it is a must. Great great movie."