Way Out West | Chicago Reader

Way Out West

This 1937 western comedy may not be Laurel and Hardy’s funniest feature (I’d pick Blockheads or Sons of the Desert), but it’s their most accomplished entertainment, a simple story that keeps them center stage for 65 minutes and allows for plenty of dancing, music, and surefire gags. Stan, Ollie, and their mule arrive at the town of Brushwood Gulch with the deed to a gold mine, whose late owner has entrusted them to transfer ownership to his daughter. But slimy saloonkeeper Mickey Finn (bald-headed sourpuss Jimmy Finlayson, the duo’s perpetual antagonist) manages to steal the deed away. Early in the story, Stan and Ollie take time out to harmonize on “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine” and, in a rather surreal rear-projection shot, execute a charming soft-shoe routine to a western tune by the Avalon Boys as the town bustles endlessly behind them. Once the action kicks in the laughs get crazier, particularly an extended block-and-tackle routine in which Ollie ends up plunging into a cellar and pulling their mule onto a balcony.

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