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Not Rated (Definitely not PC)
Copyright 1938 Principle Productions Inc.
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 27 July 2007 (updated)

The Characters:  

  • Buck Lawson - The hero. He wears white duds with the pockets painted onto them.
  • Nancy Preston - The heroine. She falls in love with Buck (she brings him food; girls, we love it when you bring us food).
  • Pop Lawson - The father of Buck Lawson, of course. He owns one of the two large ranches in the area.
  • Tex Preston - The tall and thin (compared to the others in this movie) rancher. Apparently he suffers from a skunk-like body odor. Shot by Bat Haines.
  • Otto - The comical chef at the Preston ranch. He constantly does things in the kitchen that make me wince. Climbing into a burning wood stove or throwing his hat into the stew is all part of a normal day for Otto.
  • The Sheriff - The lawman who is on Bat Haines' payroll. He develops a serious case of moral conscience, which is fatal for men in his position.
  • Nita - The saloon floozy; I did not dwell on the idea of her having any side jobs.
  • Fritz - The butt-biting and backwards-walking duck.
  • The Residents of Tiny Town - By the way, do not try to identify everyone from "The Wizard of Oz." It's enough to make a person go mad.
  • Bat Haines - The bad guy who gets too big for his britches. Transformed into human salsa when dynamite turns his secret hideout into kindling.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

"The Terror of Tiny Town" is like any other western from the 1930's: the good guy wears white, the bad guy wears black, the hero goes for a ride on the range with his sweetheart and plays the guitar as they sing songs, the villain rustles cattle and holds up the stagecoach, and, at the end of the film, the good guy and bad guy have a fistfight in a cabin as the fuse on a bundle of dynamite slowly burns. Here's the twist: every single person who appears in this film is a midget.

Quite frankly, that little plot twist is pure genius. If I ever become a millionaire film producer, you will see the same twist used to make midget versions of "Rocky," "Predator," "Top Gun," and even "Star Wars" (forum regular Burgomaster was the first to suggest "Star Wars," and I am deeply in his debt for such a beautiful idea).

To make sure that the audience notices the cast's stature, several tricks were used. Something anyone will notice is that the characters ride Shetland ponies. The choice was probably functional as well as "artistic," because I doubt that Buck could vault atop a normal-sized horse without a trampoline (trampolines were not common in the Old West). Another amusing point is that tough cowboys entering the saloon are forced to reach up and swing the doors open. The diminutive cast members could easily walk under the doors, but swinging them open and swaggering inside is mandatory in a western. Of course, the thirsty saloon patron is then forced to step up onto a bench just to see over the bar...

In fact, what is up with all of the buildings? They are hardly the correct size and dimensions for the populace. Was the town built by giants and then subsequently abandoned, to be eventually repopulated by the townsfolk we see now? What happened to all of the tall people? Why were midgets the only survivors? Perhaps Earth was attacked by piranha birds that flew five feet above the ground, decapitating anything in their way!

Yes, I know that they used an existing western town movie set. Don't you have any inherent suspension of disbelief? The world of "The Terror of Tiny Town" is one entirely populated by midgets. You explain why everything is built for people who are six feet tall.

The Preston and Lawson ranches are experiencing mysterious losses from their herds. The rustling is being committed by Bat Haines and his gang. However, the evil desperado is after more than a few calves; he wants to own both of the ranches. Buck finds a branding iron with the Preston mark after chasing the rustlers off of the Lawsons' land. On the other side of the valley, Bat informs Tex that he happened upon a Preston cow that had been shot to death. Near the dead cow was a calf with a Lawson brand on it. The two ranchers blame each other for the cattle rustling and trouble is a-brewin'.

With the Sheriff in Bat Haines' pocket, you would expect the situation to quickly lead to bloodshed, but both of the ranchers show considerable restraint when they run into each other at the barber shop (the barber tries to avert catastrophe by dropping a steaming towel on Preston's face, too). The only thing that the two men sling at each other is insults. Their shooting irons stay slung.

Elsewhere, the stagecoach is attacked by Bat Haines and his gang. Riding on the stage is Preston's niece, Nancy. The stage's driver and the guard riding shotgun (literally) are both killed, leaving no one in control of the horses. Nancy bounces around inside the stagecoach as it races toward certain peril. Just then, Buck and a couple of men from the Lawson ranch ride up. Though they are outnumbered, the good guys sound the charge and urge their ponies forward. Because the good guys are coming, Bat Haines and his men turn tail and run! Then Buck tells his cowboys to chase after the outlaws while he goes after the runaway stage. The bad guys escape, but Buck successfully rescues Nancy.

How does the previous scene work for you? Probably pretty good, since you are not one of Buck's posse. He sends them after the men with guns, while he chases down a pretty girl. Put in his situation, I would probably make the same choice, sugar over bullets, but you have to admit that the cowboys must have taken off after the bad guys and then realized, "Wait a minute, what are we doing?"

Though Buck has an inkling someone besides a Preston is behind the cattle rustling, his main concern is romancing Nancy. Only after the impending range war threatens to cut off his access to the cowgirl (and her picnic basket) does Buck seek out Tex to talk some sense into the old rancher. Unfortunately, Bat Haines watches the parley and shoots Tex Preston in the back. The villain returns to the Preston ranch and blames the murder on Buck. Nancy does not believe him, but the Sheriff arrests the younger Lawson.

A fair trial is the last thing that Bat Haines wants for Buck Lawson. Instead, he incites the saloon regulars into storming the Sheriff's office. The only thing shorter than Buck's trial might be the tree the lynch mob will use to hang him. At the last minute, the Sheriff finally decides that enough is enough - he cannot watch an innocent man hang. The villain shoots the Sheriff (but not the deputy) and flees, like a Bat out of Hell, to his secret hideout. Buck rides off in hot pursuit. The two men have unfinished business - the type that can only be solved with fists or a six shooter.

Ha! This whole time you were waiting for me to make a short pun and, instead, I opted to use the villain's first name as the comic foil! (In case you were wondering, not making a single midget pun was nearly the death of me. I actually had seizures.)

This is a classic "What in the heck?" cult film. Whether it tickles your funny bone or outright horrifies you is a gauge of your mental health. Though, unfortunately, I am not certain which reaction is the sane one. What keeps me up at night is wondering if you need a special permit to maintain a private stable of midgets. Jed Buell had a herd of midgets, but that was back in the 1930's. There were fewer laws then. Nowadays, I bet that you need a license and stuff.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • In the Old West people tended to stand around singing.
  • Midgets do not possess melanin in their skin; instead, they have asbestos.
  • You cannot reason with a duck, especially one that is walking backwards.
  • Women can eat their own weight in sandwiches and pickled eggs.
  • Being shot is always immediately fatal.
  • If your beer keg runs out early, there is probably a drunk midget inside.
  • Only an expert can tell the difference between a rabies victim and an alcoholic.
  • Dynamite looks like a wooden dowel.
  • Fuse only burns when you are looking at it.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 2 mins - Jed Buell's midgets? As in possessive tense. As in he owns them!
  • 7 mins - Great shot, Buck. If it wasn't for gravity you might have hit something, like the moon.
  • 13 mins - That guy just walked under the saloon doors!
  • 18 mins - Penguin?
  • 23 mins - Hmmm, the bullet must have gone right through the stagecoach and killed him.
  • 32 mins - Who the heck is humming?
  • 45 mins - Hasidic midget!
  • 51 mins - The subtle humor is that her sequins are really large, because she is a midget! Get it?
  • 54 mins - For no reason, Nancy runs under the desk when she leaves the jail.


  • Bat Haines: "Here comes Buck Lawson! Hit leather!"
  • Pop Lawson: "Seems to me that I smell something that should be buried. Smells mighty like a polecat."
    Tex Preston: "Why, you!"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note tinytown1.wav Announcer: "Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages, we're going to present for your approval a novelty picture with an all midget cast, the first of it's kind ever to be produced. I'm told that it has everything. That is, everything that a western should have. It's a soul stirring drama, a searing saga of the sagebrush, and it's called 'The Terror of Tiny Town.'"
Green Music Note tinytown2.wav Sheriff: "Buck, how about riding with the posse?"
Buck: "I've got an idea that I'd be wasting my time."
Sheriff: "Meaning anything in particular?"
Buck: "No, it just seems that you don't have any luck when you go hunting outlaws."
Green Music Note tinytown3.wav Pop Lawson: "This the way you ride the line, lollygagging with one of the Preston breed?"
Buck: "Dad, she has nothing to do with the quarrel between you and Tex Preston."
Pop Lawson: "She's of the same breed and, man or woman, I won't have one of them on my range."
Green Music Note tinytown4.wav Buck: "We both know who killed Tex Preston."
Bat Haines: "Yeah, but I know who's going to hang for it."
Buck: "Don't bank on that too heavy."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Cliptinytown1.mpg - 3.6m
The stagecoach is under attack by a bunch of midget outlaws!

I swear, sometimes it is as if the director filmed my dreams.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 ... 5 6 [7] 8 9
Re: The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #49. Posted on July 31, 2007, 04:24:10 PM by HarlotBug3
It's okay that you had seisures because, when I read that his trial would be shorter than the tree they'd use to hang him, I p**sed my pants.

This movie just snuck under the velvet ropes to the front of the to-watch line.
Re: The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #50. Posted on August 03, 2007, 09:38:54 AM by Racist Melon Farmer
Actually, not everything in the movie set was normal-human size- I see in the video clip they had a scaled-down stagecoach. They probably had to do that so the ponies could pull it I suppose. (I have to point out, respectfully, that vidclip wasn't the best one to demonstrate the weirdness of this flick.)

Can I suggest one more movie that should be remade with midgets? BLAZING SADDLES! That was the only thing missing from the original, IMO.
Re: The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #51. Posted on August 03, 2007, 10:44:07 AM by Flangepart
I'm just waiting for some PC type to yell "Little people! We call them little people!", like on that ep of CSI Vagas.
Re: The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #52. Posted on August 03, 2007, 05:47:41 PM by BTM
You know, actually, I read somewhere in an old interview with George Lucas (made about the time the movie Willow came out) where he said that he originally wanted to do Star Wars with all little people (as they were called back then) but he couldn't find anyone that fit the roles.

Dunno how true that is or not, but still, couldn't help but think of that when you mentioned the twist of using an all midget cast for Star Wars.
Re: The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #53. Posted on August 15, 2007, 06:03:26 PM by HarlotBug3
Bless every independent video store that still carries VHS just so they can still carry movies like this.

What does it say about your midgets if the only ones who act beyond the cue cards are the villian and the clown?

It was good for a guilty laugh, but if you really want to give someone little nightmares, it's all about "Even Dwarves Started Small". I'm still afraid to know the back story of that one.
Re: The Terror of Tiny Town or I was a Teenage Insomniac
Reply #54. Posted on May 27, 2008, 08:05:23 PM by David Merrill
I saw this movie for the first time in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. It was either late High School or early college. I can't remember. I can say this is not the movie you want to stumble upon if you're having trouble sleeping and want to lull yourself to sleep with the TV. When I saw the Wizard of Oz for the first time when I was around 4 or 5, it wasn't the flying monkeys that scared me like most people, it was the Munchkins. I had nightmares for months. Thank God i didn't see this back then. I've been telling people about it for years. most people don't believe anything like this could ever have been made. Makes you wonder what other midget movies much worse than this didn't survive. I can't decide whether it's kinda cool they got paid to make a second movie or if it would have been more humane just to send them packing. I remember when I watched i alternated between peels of laughter at the bad acting & writing and horror. I think I had nightmares after this one too.
Re: The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #55. Posted on July 28, 2008, 11:04:01 AM by Saucerman
Hehehe, it should be called "Hang 'em Not So High." 

What I want to see is a 1930s-Universal-style gothic horror film with an all midget cast. 
Re: The Terror of Tiny Town
Reply #56. Posted on August 20, 2008, 01:45:05 PM by Greg Cameron
This is an absolutely jaw-dropping movie and, as such, worth watching. This movie follows all the genre cliches of the Western right down to the letter.  A guilty pleasure?  I never believed in that category.  Either you enjoy something or you don't.  Still, it is incredibly un-PC and it might induce some squirms in some of the more morally squeamish viewers.  Look at it this way.  It gave these people some work.  What the hell.  Yeah, I was bugged by that little blurb saying the producer of the film 'owned' the midgets in question.  Does anybody out there have any info about this?  Even in the 1940s and 1950s, it was still illegal to 'own' someone as if they were slaves.  I got a real kick out of the midget playing the bar floozy.  And the 'cook' was a hoot.  Pursuers of oddities should definitely check this out. As Charles Fort used to say, Can Such Things Be?  Yup....
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