There are few things outside of my family that give me great joy, but Laurel and Hardy are definitely on that list. They are the ultimate comedy duo, putting all others to shame. TO SHAME! And of all the L&H films and shorts, Way Out West is tops on my list.
Directed by James W. Horne, and produced by Stan Laurel, Way Out West was released in 1937, earning an Academy Award nomination for Marvin Hatley's original score. A score, by the way, that went up against the likes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and a personal favorite...Dimitri Tiomkin's score for Lost Horizon. Not bad company for a slapstick comedy.
Set...um...way out west...Stan and Ollie need to get to Brushwood Gulch in order to deliver the deed to a mine to the owner's daughter. However, they're having some difficulties hitching a ride into town, which means Stan needs to take a hint from Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night...
Having finally arrived, our "heroes" make their way to Mickey Finn's Palace, where they come across the Avalon Boys (more on one of their members in a minute) and commence what is perhaps the greatest dance number on film.
Suck it, Fred & Ginger!
This is a little dance that a friend and I would do on a pretty regular basis on the way to school or at the bus stop. We weren't weird at all. There is a chance that I still throw this out there once in a while for my unsuspecting children...or to lighten the mood at work.
Stan and Ollie are the ultimate showmen, and decide to sing along with yet another Avalon Boys tune.
Did you recognize that bass? That was sung by none other than Chill Wills, who was a member of The Avalon Boys.
Oh, yeah...back to that deed. Well, the owner having passed away, left his fortune to his daughter Mary Roberts (Rosina Lawrence). What did her father die of? The answer requires tact and empathy, so of course Stan does this...
As if Mondays weren't bad enough!
That very attractive woman in the colorized clip was not Mary Roberts. Oh, no, she is Lola Marcel (Sharon Lynn, in her final film role) and she is the entertainment at Mickey Finn's Palace...and she's Mary's guardian along with Mickey. Finn is played by perennial Laurel and Hardy villain/butt-of-jokes James Finlayson.
The originator of "D'oh!" Sharon Lynn's final film role as Lola Marcel
When Stan and Ollie arrive in Brushwood Gulch, they stop at Mickey's to search for Mary. On meeting Mickey, and because they're Stan & Ollie, they let slip that they have this deed and that they don't know what Mary looks like. Mickey then gets the brilliant idea of having Lola pose as Mary so the two of them can claim the mine and "their" fortune.
Of course, Stan and Ollie do what they do best...they fail, but they fail upwards. The real Mary is revealed to them, and the trio is then able to foil Mickey and Lola in spite of themselves. And that's why we don't really watch Laurel and Hardy for the stories; we watch for their sweet stupidity.
They are masters of running gags, pratfalls, and general incompetence. Wading across a stream and Ollie falling in over his head while Stan and their mule continue unscathed is one gag used throughout Way Out West. Another is Stan's amazing ability to improvise when they need a light...
What's not to love about Way Out West? Lovable losers. A couple great-looking ladies. A villain who is just as inept as the heroes. Singing and dancing...and I typically stay away from singing in dancing in movies. Even if I'm in the worst mood, Laurel and Hardy will make me happy. Every time. Stan's laugh is as infectious as his simplicity is endearing, while Ollie's exasperation with Stanley belies his devotion to his friend. At the end of the day, they are happiest with each other, as I am happiest when they are on my screen.
I end this post with this simple video. Enjoy!
This post was a part of the Ice Cream Social Blogathon, hosted by Fritzi at Movies Silently. Be sure to check out all the other posts she has lined up for you.