For Your Awareness: The Terror Of Tiny Town (1938)

For the final installment of this month of westerns I figured I would have to go with the most absurd and nonsensical film for the coup de grace.  I have found that film in what can only be describe as a film whose very existence defies all logic, as well as all reason for demand or conventions in the cinematic structure.  Of course, it is a film that has obtained its own deserved cult status, in its genre hybridity, perhaps the most intense thus far, as well as being billed, I kid you not, as "the first all-midget western."  This movie in question is none other than The Terror of Tiny Town and as it may well suggest is not in fact about a town of miniature sets in which people diagnosed with dwarfism run through the streets, although they do indeed have miniature ponies, which is glorious in its own right.  Instead, it is a town full of little persons who navigate a western town in which everything is of normal size, begging the question as to why the title was not something like...say The Trouble in Enormous Town.  This digressions is a bit necessary on my part because I really cannot fathom what I could possibly offer to this movie that would not boil down to calling it a bit of wild exploitation, which were it not for the opening moments of the film in which an announcer warns viewers as to what they are about to watch, one could make the argument that it is actually a film that never states, again aside from credits, that it is a film about little people.  The world they occupy is entirely there own, one that assumes many of the tropes of the western, and treats the individuals as the adults they are never appropriating a childlike stature upon them and mocking their moves, which is a big surprise considering that many of the people involved within this unusual little (no pun intended) film, were first seen as the "loveable" munchkins in The Wizard of Oz.  The Terror of Tiny Town packs a pretty narrative heavy punch for only being an hour in runtime, which is rather surprising for a film that begins by embracing the wacky and bizarre nature of its very existence, of course, the narrative is by no means inventive, so much as those who are allowed to act out its scenes.

The Terror of Tiny Town as a film certainly exists within many genres, one could assume that it was to show the diversity, of what I assume to be a performing troupe that consisted entirely of little people.  As such it pulls in some decidedly comedic parts, while also forcefully included far too many musical numbers, most of which were dubbed by a terrible version of Bing Crosby.  What it does do right within the western is create a clear distinction between a decidedly evil character and his good counterparts, even going so far as to play upon the particular guile of the villain and his ability to turn rational, good-hearted individuals against each other by exploiting what is assumedly some latent capitalist greed that forces them to value their monetary possessions over any sort of friendship, a foolish frame of mind that is not counteracted until the films closing moments.  Furthermore, it includes a believable love story of a lone cowboy falling for a young woman with a wonderful singing voice, not to mention that it also includes a heightened final scene whose jump cuts to a soon to explode dynamite have a certain degree of Keaton intensity to them.  Ultimately, it becomes a question as to whether or not a viewer is able to get past the schtick of the film in that it is to be unusual because the persons occupying the narrative space are non-normative bodies, and while I would like to say I could completely detach myself, I am not that fair-minded and certainly found things humorous of which I was not proud, but I am aware and that is the best I can offer.  With that beings said I do think the film offers the possibility to create a narrative that has non-normative bodies and deals with them in a brilliant and non-exploitative way and one that is from the 1930's no less.  Therefore, while The Terror of Tiny Town has obtained cult status, it should also receive much deserved critical attention for its surprisingly revolutionary offering.

This movie is available on YouTube and is well worth at least checking out a few minutes to be aware of its existence.

No comments:

Post a Comment