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"The work of Robert J. Horner and Victor Adamson/Denver Dixon is visible proof of the law of diminishing returns - each, in it's turn, was worse than the predecessor - and also disproves the theory that if one starts at the bottom, the only direction is up."
Les Adams

"Robert J. Horner's westerns are the absolute barrel scrapings."
Boyd Magers

"... his artistic pretensions were forthrightly nonexistent."
the late Don Miller
(writing about Horner in his book Hollywood Corral)

"... the atmosphere is one of genial amateurs having fun playing cowboy in somebody's backyard, and the films become, not dismal, but sympathetic."
the late Don Miller
(writing about Victor Adamson/Denver Dixon in his book Hollywood Corral)

The nadir of B western film-making is often assigned to Victor Adamson, aka Denver Dixon, AKA Art Mix or Al Mix. While Adamson did produce-direct-write some pretty downtrodden stuff starring the likes of Buffalo Bill, Jr., Wally Wales and Buddy Roosevelt, the distinction of creating the worst B western programmers might belong to Robert J. Horner.

But to reduce any arguments and ensure that both are treated equally, the prestigious Old Corral Bottom-Of-The-Barrel award is bestowed on both Horner and Adamson/Dixon.

There was some commonality in the films of both men:

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above is the pressbook cover for Horner/Aywon's THE PHANTOM COWBOY (1935) which starred Ted Wells ... but the sketch appears to be of Bill Cody and Andy Shuford.  Above right is a poster example included in the pressbook.

The pressbook also had a glowing description of the film (shown right), and includes another variation of the spelling on Nathan Hirsh (or Hirsch or Hirisch).

Ted Wells starred in one other for Horner/Aywon, DEFYING THE LAW (1935).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

While we are critical of the cinematic creations of Horner and Adamson/Dixon, one needs to fully understand the times in which they worked. Their movies were peddled to states rights distributors. And these indepedendent exchanges would market the films to local theaters, many of which were small town movie houses. Horner and Adamson/Dixon were also competing with other production outfits that had bigger heroes and larger budgets, and those films received more playing time at the local Bijou.

There's a section on the Old Corral titled "Poverty Row & the B Western Producer" which provides a more detailed perspective on this (link below).  Included is a hypothetical story about producer B. B. "Big Biz" Whiplash and his new film, BELCH VALLEY RAIDERS.

Special thanks to Les Adams, Boyd Magers and Hans Wollstein for their help and input.  Thanks also to Renee Brouillette for providing several of the newspaper clippings on Robert J. Horner. And ye Old Corral webmeister enjoyed the detective work to learn more about the lives and careers of both Horner and Adamson/Dixon.

Click below for:

Robert J. Horner

Albert Victor Adamson/Denver Dixon

 Poverty Row & the B Western Producer

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