December 9, 2018
Way Out West (1937)
Grade: 46/100

Director: James W. Horne
Stars: Oliver Hardy, Stan Laurel, Sharon Lynn

What it's about. The veteran comic duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are in another fine mess. Tasked with delivering the deed of a gold mine to Mary Roberts (Rosina Lawrence) in an isolated Old West town, they are instead hoodwinked into giving it to unethical showgirl Lola (Sharon Lynn) and her unprincipled special other Mickey Finn (James Finlayson).

They soon realize their mistake, but Lola and Finn have no intentions of giving back the deed. The local sheriff (Stanley Fields) is of no use, since Laurel and Hardy earlier pestered the sheriff's wife (Vivien Oakland) during a coach ride.

Run out of town, and still without the deed, Oliver and Hardy stage an incompetent midnight raid and burglary to return the deed to the clueless but charming Mary Roberts. Because it is a movie, all ends well, and they can even enjoy Mary's company on a thousand-mile trip that begins as the credits roll.

How others will see it. Way Out West is best known for a short dance number early in the film. There are many slapstick gags that many will find amusing. Indeed, at, the movie has a respectable 6500 user votes, and the user rating of 7.7 is fairly high. The user reviews are laudatory, with one calling it "the single funniest movie I have ever seen," which is possible only if you accept that Ollie will always have a rapid full recovery from whatever Stanley does to him.

How I felt about it. I must start with a few observations. Ollie seems to dislike Stanley. And no wonder, given the mishaps he suffers throughout their films. I have a solution for Ollie. Tell Stanley to buzz off. It would certainly save on doctor's bills.

Also, why is Lola, a world-class showgirl, hanging out in Brushwood Gulch with bald, homely, and much older Mickey Finn?

And why hasn't anyone married Mary Roberts? A ravishing young brunette in a town where the men must outnumber the women five to one? She prefers to work as a servant subject to Finn's continual verbal abuse?

How much damage to property does it take for Laurel and Hardy to get arrested? They land a mule on the second floor, and still the duo almost manage to get away with hiding inside a grand piano.

Mary Roberts seems to take the news of her father's death rather well.

How many times is Ollie going to fall into the same brook sinkhole? Hasn't anyone built a bridge yet to span the creek?

How many crimes must Laurel and Hardy commit before the Production Code judges their actions more severely than Finn and Lola's deceit? They destroy a house, break and enter, point a gun at Finn (twice) and tie him up, and none of these things are felonies?

And why, in the first place, would Mary Roberts' father entrust a blundering duo such as Laurel and Hardy to track down her long lost daughter to deliver a valuable deed? Isn't the court system designed for such matters?

Hal Roach comedies evoke such questions but make no attempt to answer them. But then again, the journey is more important than the destination, especially since we all know that Mary Roberts is going to get back the deed to the gold mine. And neither Laurel or Hardy would ever consider forging Mary Roberts' signature on the deed. They are more likely to eat a hat. Don't worry, it's made of licorice.