Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, February 8, 2021


Western star Tom Tyler (1903-1954) started his career in films as a prop man and extra in silent movies in 1924.  The following year he was sign to star in a series of low budget westerns beginning with Let's Go, Gallagher, followed by another 28 westerns over four years.  Tyler then signed with Syndicate Pictures and starred in eight silent films.  Syndicate loaned Tyler to Mascor Pictures to make his first sound movie, The Phantom of the West, a ten-part serial which saw Kermit Maynard as Tyler's stunt double.  The following year, Tyler's first sound movie for Syndicate displayed his excellent voice for westerns.  Tyler was a strong contender for the role of Tarzan in MGM's Tarzan the Ape Man.  Tyler moved to Monogram for another eight westerns before moving to Universal for three serials and doing four westerns for Monarch Pictures.  In 1934, Tyler moved to Reliable pictures for 18 quickie westerns -- including Fast Bullets.  Tyler then did eight westerns for Victory Pictures, two of which he starred with his wife Jeanne Martel.

Tyler moved to the Wallace Brothers Circus in 1938 when his latest contract ran out.  He returned to Hollywood the following year to appear in supporting and bit roles in movies like Stagecoach, Drums Along the Mohawk, Gone With the Wind, and The Grapes of Wrath.  Tyler also played Kharis the mummy in The Mummy's Hand, cast because he resembled a young Boris Karloff.  

In 1941, Tyler signed with Republic Pictures to star as Stony Borrke in thirteen of the popular Three Mesquiteer westerns.  He also landed the title role in Republic's serial The Adventures of Captain Marvel.  His last major role was as Lee Flak's comic book hero in The Phantom in 1943.

Strickened by rheumatoid arthritis, Tyler moved on to occassional supporting roles and transitioned to television, appearing in minor roles in western series.  He died in 1954, age 50, of heart disease and scleroderma.  His last television appearance, in the western series Steve Donovan, Western Marshal, appeared in January 1956; in that program Tyler had difficulty drawing his gun due to his arthritis.

In Fast Bullets, Tyler plays Ranger Tom Milton, who is after Travis (Al Bridge), the leader of a gang of munition smugglers.  Milton goes undercover with the help of Jimmy (Rex Lease), who, for reasons known only to God, is called the Kid.  Eye candy is provided by Margaret Nearing as Joan, who does a tap dance in a saloon. (Don't ask.)   There's nothing special in this programmer, but it can give you an hour's worth of entertainment.

Check it out.

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