In this silent Western, popular genre star Fred Thomson was given a new sidekick in six-year-old Billy Butts, a fair-haired boy actor who could ride with the best of them. Fred, as Fred Saunders, rescues little Buddy, an orphan, from being trampled to death by a runaway horse. Saunders soon becomes so attached to the plucky tyke that he "kidnaps" him from the orphanage. The two of them recover money stolen from the collection plate at the local church and Fred falls in love with the minister's daughter, June (Lola Todd). Things turn serious, however, when little Buddy is kidnapped for real, this time by a gang headed by Con Carney (Robert McKim). The Western climaxes in a daring rescue of Buddy, who proves to be June's long-lost kid brother. Billy Butts went on to star opposite Fox cowboy Rex Bell and later replaced Jackie Morgan in the popular "Gumps" two-reeler. His waif-like qualities didn't survive into puberty, however, and Butts retired from films at age 17. Like so many of his FBO Westerns, The Tough Guy was written by Thomson's wife, Frances Marion, under the pseudonym "Frank M. Clifton."
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