Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Way Out West

Way Out West; comedy, USA, 1937; D: James W. Horne, S: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, James Finlayson

The wild west, 19th century. Laurel & Hardy travel slowly with their donkey so they hitchhike a carriage to a nearby town. There, the sheriff warns them that they must leave the town. Laurel & Hardy enter a saloon and and inform the owner that they are here to give a certain Mary the ownership rights of a gold mine that she inherited from her late father. But the greedy owner doesn't want her to get the permit so he persuades his wife Lola to play Mary. After they give her the documents, Laurel & Hardy realize the fraud. During the night, they steal the document from the safe and give it to Mary.

"Way Out West" is a triumph of the comic duo during their feature length movie phase: a dynamic rhythm, striking humor and good directing are the main virtues of this comedy. The opening is rather lethargic (a donkey is dragging Hardy lying on an armchair, until it stops in a river) whereas the intrigues of the greedy saloon owner (James Finlayson, practically a "third" member of the Laurel & Hardy team, in an untypical role of a clear bad guy) whose goal is to get a hold of the gold mine rights are slightly annoying. However, the story easily manifests hilarious jokes: the sequence where Hardy loses his appendage under his shirt so Laurel is disrobing him in order to find the object is equally as successful as the moment where Lola and Laurel exchange this dialogue: "Is my father really dead?" - "I sure hope so. We already buried him." Still, despite virtues, "West" does not extend itself into an excellent film. The music was even nominated for an Oscar.


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