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Supporting players and henchies in Tyler's Reliable westerns were quite good and included eleven appearances for Slim Whitaker, six for Charlie King, eleven for George Chesebro, greasy Earl Dwire appeared six times, and sneering Lew Meehan made five appearances.  Producer, Associate Producer, and Director of the entire bunch were alternately filled in by Ray and Webb ... with Webb disguised under his alternate name of "Henri Samuels" and Ray as "Franklin Shamray".

As for Tom, he really tried but couldn't singlehandidly rise above the production shortcomings which all too often left the viewer feeling that the cast was milling around between gunfights and fisticuffs.  Critics of the time (who were generally unenthusiastic about westerns in general), cited the films as pedestrian yet occasionally threw in some good words about Tom.

But by 1936, the bell was tolling for these independently produced western programmers as the states rights distribution channels, which were utilized for film releasing, were beginning to dry up.  And western film competition, which earlier had carried the anemic brand names of Empire, Superior, Big 4, Imperial, and such, now included polished, well executed work from the newly formed Republic Pictures.  Even Paramount was releasing a new series based on the Hopalong Cassidy stories, and these had big budgets, beautiful exterior locations, and near adult scripting.

The Poverty Row version of the cowboy opus, Tom Tyler's bread and butter, was becoming extinct.

Tom's next move was a further step down in prominence as he saddled up with Sam Katzman's Victory Pictures, leaving Ray and Webb to fill his Reliable slot with likes of Bob Custer and Rin-Tin-Tin Jr.

Katzman, a veteran independent producer, but more often recalled as the penny-pinching mogul who brought us so many gagging Columbia serials, needed a well-known cowboy star whose name would be recognized on a theater marquee.

Sam hired Tyler for a series of eight.  All were 1936-1937 releases, with each picture budgeted at about $6000.

Reuniting Tom with cliffhanger heroine Lucile Brown, CHEYENNE RIDES AGAIN (Victory, 1937) also included the soon-to-be Universal Pictures' Wolfman Creighton (Lon Junior) Chaney ... and this is another good 'un in Tyler's Victory oaters.  Tom played a dual role in FEUD OF THE TRAIL (Victory, 1937).

The fairly talented Bob Hill directed the first five entries, but disaster struck as Katzman took over the baton for BROTHERS OF THE WEST (Victory, 1937), and two with Tyler's wife Jeanne Martel, ORPHAN OF THE PECOS (Victory, 1937) and LOST RANCH (Victory, 1937).  Tried and true veterans included in the casts were Forrest Taylor, Slim Whitaker, Dick Alexander, Ted Lorch and Charlie King.

Tom Tyler, the Singing Cowboy ! I mentioned this earlier, but will include it again here since this page deals with Tom's Victory films.  I was viewing Tyler videotapes and DVDs and popped LOST RANCH (Victory, 1937) into the old VCR. In the opening scenes, Tom and his trail pard Howard Bryant (as 'Happy') are riding along ... and Tom starts singing two songs, "Tucson Mary" and "Home on the Range".  It's pretty obvious that he's lip synching the tunes, but I couldn't pin down the source of the voice.  (Les Adams ran the complete cast list off his trusty database and there wasn't anyone in that film who was considered a singer or a member of one of the many musical groups that did B grade oaters.  Boyd Magers commented that Glenn Strange may have done the singing.)

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Tyler slugs it out with veteran henchman and stuntman Jim Corey in BROTHERS OF THE WEST (Victory, 1937).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above is the title lobby card from THE PHANTOM OF THE RANGE (Victory, 1936).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Tyler has his mitts on burly Dick Alexander, who is best remembered as 'El Lobo' in the serial ZORRO RIDES AGAIN (1937) and as 'Prince Barin' in FLASH GORDON. On the left is Milburn Morante and the heroine is Jerry Bergh. Lobby card from MYSTERY RANGE (Victory, 1937), one of the cheapies churned out by Sam Katzman's Victory Pictures.

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above - Tom and his trusty steed get ready for the start of the Cattlemen's Convention horse race in a crop from a lobby card from RIP ROARIN' BUCKAROO (Victory, 1936). Notice the year 1936 on the banner - this was another western with six-guns and horses in modern times.

Actress Jeanne Martel and Tom Tyler married on September 3, 1937. She was the heroine in three with Tyler: SANTA FE BOUND (Reliable, 1936), LOST RANCH (Victory, 1937) and ORPHAN OF THE PECOS (Victory, 1937). Thrifty Sam Katzman was the boss of Victory, and saved a few bucks by re-using the same poster for LOST RANCH (Victory, 1937) and ORPHAN OF THE PECOS (Victory, 1937).

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