Way Out West (1937 film)
|Way Out West|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James W. Horne|
|Produced by||Stan Laurel|
|Written by||Contributing (uncredited):|
James W. Horne
Arthur V. Jones
|Screenplay by||Charley Rogers|
|Story by||Jack Jevne|
|Music by||Marvin Hatley|
|Edited by||Bert Jordan|
Way Out West is a 1937 Laurel and Hardy comedy film directed by James W. Horne, produced by Stan Laurel, and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was the second picture for which Stan Laurel was credited as producer.
Stan and Oliver, after consorting with Seymore "Sy" Roberts, an old prospector, have been entrusted to deliver the deed to a gold mine the prospector discovered to the man's daughter, Mary Roberts (Rosina Lawrence), a poor girl living in Brushwood Gulch who is consistently victimized by her cruel guardians, saloon owner Mickey Finn (James Finlayson), and his equally cruel saloon-singer wife, Lola Marcel (Sharon Lynn).
The movie opens in Mickey Finn's saloon. (In the early 20th century, "Mickey Finn" was a well-known slang term for the underworld practice of lacing a drink with chloral hydrate, a powerful and sometimes deadly sedative, in order to do mischief to an unsuspecting dupe.) Here we are introduced to the characters of Mickey Finn, Lola, and Mary Roberts.
When Stan and Ollie are introduced, they are traveling toward the town of Brushwood Gulch: Stan on foot, leading a mule named "Dinah", and Ollie lying on a travois being dragged behind the mule. A recurring gag is introduced as they ford a shallow river. In the middle of the stream, the travois becomes detached from the mule, leaving Ollie stranded in the middle of the stream. Stan goes back and helps Ollie to his feet. Then, as Ollie wades the rest of the way across, he completely disappears into a submerged hole in the river bottom. As Ollie is drying his clothes, a stagecoach comes by. Ollie quickly dresses, and they are able to ride the rest of the way into town. On the stagecoach, they attempt to flirt with the woman (Vivien Oakland) who is riding with them. She rebuffs the pair, and upon arriving in Brushwood Gulch, she complains to her husband (Stanley Fields), who we later discover is the town's sheriff. The angry husband draws his gun and orders the pair to leave on the next coach out of town, or else they'll be "riding out of here in a hearse". Stan and Ollie promise to do so once they have completed their mission.
Stan and Ollie arrive at Mickey Finn's saloon as the Avalon Boys are performing J. Leubrie Hill's "At the Ball, That's All" on the front porch. Stan and Ollie are captivated by the music, and perform a charming dance in front of a rear-projection scene of the main street of the town involving dozens of extras. When they explain to Mickey Finn why they are there and that Stan and Ollie have never seen Mary before, Finn has Lola play Mary in order to hijack the deed from them. Stan and Ollie are completely duped by the charade; but before leaving town, they encounter the real Mary Roberts and immediately try to get the deed back. The evil Finns will not surrender the deed, and a major struggle ensues as Stan and Ollie attempt to reclaim the deed. Stan manages to grab it, but Lola manages to wrest the deed by tickling him into hysterics. After further chasing, Mickey and Lola seal the deed in their safe. Ollie momentarily believes he is saved when the sheriff knocks on the door of the Finn's residence. But he discovers the sheriff to be the angry husband he met at the stagecoach, and he chases Stan and Ollie out of town. On the way out, Ollie again drops into the hole in the river.
To reclaim the deed, Stan and Ollie sneak back into Brushwood Gulch at night. They arrive at the saloon and, after a series of mishaps (including Laurel stretching Hardy's neck an incredible three feet trying to free him from a trapdoor in which his head was stuck) they make it inside. They are met by Mary. They manage to grab the deed after forcing Mickey to open the safe at gunpoint with his own shotgun, and escape with Mary. While trying to chase after them, Finn becomes entangled in the gate-grill at the front door. Outside the town, the happy trio sing "We're Going to See My Home in Dixie" as they ride into the future. Once again, they wade across the very same shallow river, and Ollie falls once again into the very same submerged hole that he did twice before.
The film's score was composed by Marvin Hatley and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music (Scoring). The film includes two well-known songs: firstly Macdonald and Carroll's "Trail of the Lonesome Pine", sung by Laurel and Hardy (except for a few lines by Chill Wills and Rosina Lawrence, lip-synched for comedic effect by Laurel), and secondly J. Leubrie Hill's "At the Ball, That's All", sung by the Avalon Boys and accompanied by Laurel and Hardy performing an extended dance routine, one that they rehearsed endlessly.
In popular culture
- Way Out West is referenced in The Sheriff and the Satellite Kid when the Sheriff (Bud Spencer) ends up replicating Stan Laurel's thumb fire trick featured in the film.
- The opening scene of the biopic Stan & Ollie depicts a shooting of the film.
- Aping, Norbert (2008). The Final Film of Laurel and Hardy: A Study of the Chaotic Making and Marketing of Atoll K. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-3302-5.
- Bowers, Judith (2007). Stan Laurel and Other Stars of the Panopticon: The Story of the Britannia Music Hall. Edinburgh: Birlinn Ltd. ISBN 1-84158-617-X.
- Everson, William K. (2000) [1st. pub. 1967]. The Complete Films of Laurel and Hardy. New York: Citadel. ISBN 0-8065-0146-4.
- Louvish, Simon (2001). Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy. London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0-571-21590-4.
- Marriot, A.J. (1993). Laurel & Hardy: The British Tours. Hitchen, Herts, UK: AJ Marriot. ISBN 0-9521308-0-7.
- McCabe, John (2004). Babe: The Life of Oliver Hardy. London: Robson Books Ltd. ISBN 1-86105-781-4.
- McCabe, John; Kilgore, Al; Bann, Richard W. (1983) [1st. pub. E.P. Dutton:1975]. Laurel & Hardy. New York: Bonanza Books. ISBN 978-0-491-01745-9.
- McGarry, Annie (1992). Laurel & Hardy. London: Bison Group. ISBN 0-86124-776-0.
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