Since time began (or at least since the mid-90s) fans of the show "Mystery Science Theater 3000" have wondered if there was any movie too wretched to use on the show. Well, according to Best Brains Productions, at least two have earned this distinction. One is "Mesa of Lost Women," and the other is "The Terror of Tiny Town."
TTOTT is a musical western filmed in the mid-30s, a time when musical westerns were particularly popular. This one has something unique. It is the only musical western in history with an "all midget cast." That's right, all of the actors are midgets, and the town they live in is generally scaled to their size. Their horses, for instance, are miniature shetland ponies. I say "generally" because every so often their is a sight gag intended to remind you that the actors are midgets. For instance, when the actors enter the saloon they walk under the swinging doors.
Many of the actors were performers in circuses and the like, but few had any real acting experience. This is readily evident in the halting, unsure way many of them speak. The villain, by contrast, had attained a degree of fame doing Phillip-Morris commercials, and, sensing this might be his big break, hams it up to a degree that would make Shatner nervous.
The performer's lack of professional polish is even more obvious during the singing numbers. In one scene the hero sings a love song to the heroine, but not only is it poorly dubbed, the singing voice is about an octave too low to be his. As creepy as that is, however, it pales in significance to the scenes where the actors actually do sing. Due to hormonal deficiences, many of the actors have high pitched, immature voices. In one scene, a saloon girl sings, "Hey, watch out, I'm gonna make love to you." The sight of a tiny woman dressed like a vamp singing this (supposedly) titillating song in a five year old voice will haunt you for the rest of your days.
The plot is fairly standard Hollywood western fare. The villain is the foreman for a ranch, and he is trying to stir up conflict between the ranch were he works and a neighboring ranch, so he can acquire them both and become "the biggest man in the county." The owner of the ranch where he works has a niece living with him, and the owner of the neighboring ranch has a son. Of course they fall in love and try to stop the impending feud between their families. Scattered throughout are a number of mindless, happy songs (generally sung at ear-piercingly high pitches). Factor in several sub-plots (such as the sheriff with a dark past) and popular western cliches (a comic-relief ranch cook with a foreign accent), and you have a potentially forgettable western made unforgettable (despite your best efforts) by one unique schtick.
My wife once said that TTOTT isn't a movie anyone wants to see, they just want to be able to say they've seen it. Personally, I enjoyed it, but I recommend seeing it in a group. Oh, and by the way, rumors of a sequel titled "Hang 'Em Not So High" are strictly apocryphal.
Best line: "I'm the villain. I'm the terror of Tiny Town. I'm gonna be the biggest guy in Hollywood."
Things That Make You Go "Huh?": If the concept of an all-midget western doesn't make you go "Huh?" nothing will.