A Review from Variety
Way Out West was one of the many Laurel and Hardy films that was given a poor review by Variety. We present this 1937 review, for your evaluation. After you read it, feel free to submit your own review of the film.
Latest Laurel-Hardy opus just about extinguishes the good results achieved in "Our Relations", previous effort. Way Out West will do most of its pioneering on the lower side of double-bill teams. Picture may gain a share of patronage through the comedy team's showing made in preceding releases, but after that it will be tough sledding.
Manner in which this comedy falters and stumbles along is probably due both to formula direction and scripting. Three are credited with the scenario and two for the original story. Seemingly too many took a hand; plot reads that way.
In general pattern the latest Laurel and Hardy entry follows closely the old methods used on their feature shorts. There's too much driving home of gags. Several of them are new, or are given new twists, but the ponderous way in which they are put over washes out their expected effect.
Laurel and Hardy sing and dance in this one, both to neat returns. They fail to follow up the advantage achieved in their preceding film by not talking again or working their chatter in effectively. Instead this looks like a series of gags loosely strung together.
The two boys are commissioned to deliver a deed to a gold mine. They find out, after handing it over, that the valuable paper has been given to the wrong girl. Hence, the mad race to readjust matters. On this thin framework hangs all of the quips. And Oliver Hardy falls into a pool of water for the third time as the eventual fadeout arrives.
For the Laurel-Hardy fans, who howl at anything the pair does, they may appear as comical as ever. They wear their usual costumes, despite the cowboy - western surroundings. Sharon Lynne, comely blonde, works hard to gain prominence in a role that might well have been made more of. Instead, James Finlayson again is cast as villain-straight man which further slows up the action. Rosina Lawrence, heroine who's supposed to inherit the gold mine, appears only for fleeting glimpses. Stanley Fields, in the role of sheriff, is totally wasted. The Avalon Boys contribute a few bars of harmony for added production value.
Stan Laurel is given partial credit for being producer, which probably proves that he is best as a comic. Several smart lines creep into the sparsity of dialog, but most of it is fundamental wordage.
Originally from Variety, May 3, 1937. Reviews From Fans
"Way Out West" is a superb film, distinguished by a magnificent score, excellent production values, a nimble pace, a great supporting cast--and, most of all, the wonderful comedy of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. I've probably seen this film 30 times in the past 30 years, and my affection for it only grows with time. Incidentally, I'd also give the Way Out West website a four-star rating--it's every bit as well-crafted and enjoyable as the L&H film. Bravo!
In l937, the boys head "Way Out West" and with their trek to "Brushwood Gulch". They bring a load of laughs and great music. Unlike their contemporaries: Abbott & Costello, Eddie Cantor, Jack Benny and The Three Stooges, Stan & Ollie are not cast as tenderfoots who try to show their western Macho at a dude ranch or at a rough saloon. The plot has the boys trying to deliver a deed to a valuable gold mine to the daughter of their recently deceased friend Seymore (Or Sy Roberts). Unfortunately, the boys create havoc from the moment that they step out of the coach that they're sharing with a haughty lady. In their typical attempts to try and be nice to a stranger. The lady complains to her husband (played with a certain amount of burliness by veteran screen villain Stan Fields). Who in turn, warns the boys "To catch the next stagecoach out of town". Angrily pointing his six shooter in their direction. Ollie takes Mr. Fields advice as they try to find "Ms. Mary Roberts". When they start inquiring about Sy Roberts daughter the boys make the mistake of telling the greedy and corrupt owner of the local Saloon "Mickey Fin" (Jimmy Finlayson) about their mission. And "Mickey" has his equally greedy and unscrupulous wife "Lola Marcel Finn" (Sharon Lyne) Impersonate "Mary" (A lowly kitchen slavey played with charm and warmth by Rosina Lawrence) to get the deed from L&H and have poor "Mary" (Rosie) sign over her inheritance to the two crooks. When the boys find out that they've unknowingly aided the two con artists in the theft of the real "Mary Roberts" Inheritance. They try to get the deed back from the crooked twosome. Which of course leads to L&H's funniest form of robbery since "Babes In Toyland!". The film has a great plot, a realistic backdrop, wonderful songs performed by Ms. Lyne, "The Avalon Boys" (which also features an early screen appearance by a young, thin bearded Chill Wills) and of course a rare screen treat...Stan and Ollie Singing together. The boys harmonize on "The Blue Ridge Mountains Of Virginia" (Aka: The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine!". They also dance to "At The Ball That's All...Some Ball!". And Stan performs his funniest bit of "White Magic" as he tries to light his thumb like a match. Another of his crazy but funny flights of fancy...which still continues to confound poor Ollie and anyone else. Who tries to duplicate this bits of childlike fantasy. There maybe other comedy performers. Who have tried to tame the west onscreen. But For my money, Laurel & Hardy won the West (At least Hal Roach's idea of the West) in this classic 1937 comedy.
Kevin S. Butler
The picture "way out west" fue exhibida en Montevideo, capital del Uruguay (South America) con el titulo de "Alla en el Lejano oeste". Indudablemente para los que admiramos a Laurel & Hardy es el mejor largometraje que han realizado.Quiero expresar que aqui, en Uruguay, hay muchos admiradores de Stan and Ollie.
Es un film que ha sido libretado sobre un guion de Stan, que era quien creaba y planificaba los gags de este film.
En muchas revisiones de films se exhibe esta pelicula y, cuando se quioere mostrar a la nuevas generaciones algun film de ellos siempre se recurre a "Way out Wast".
Esperamos que alguna oportunida la "Son of Desert Asociaton" se realice en South America y que las paginas web que recuerdan su memoria sean publicadas en idioma espanol, ademas de "english lenguage".
Quiero expresar que en Montevideo hay muchos conocedores y admiradores de este film y de toda la obra de Stan Lauren y Oliver Hardy. Respecto a este film, en una de sus revisiones en la prensa uruguaya, debajo de una foto de Laurel y Hardy decía "como ellos ninguno". Lo que en idioma espanol es un gran pero un gran elogio.
The most funniest scene is when Poor Stan Laurel was going through a massive tickle torture to prevent the lady from getting the deed to the gold mine. I wonder how he was able to survive through the whole scene.
This is the one that holds up best for me. There's not a wasted moment or misfired gag in the film. A joy from start to finish. This is THE L&H film to win over new L&H fanatics, no doubt about it. It's just super. I'm sure there's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said a thousand times - "Eat the hat!" - timeless.
WAY OUT WEST is one of the giddiest, happiest comedies ever to come out of Hollywood. It is a tribute to this hour-long masterpiece that it seems shorter than many of the duo's 20 minute films! The pacing is marvelous: a few sublimely frantic comic sequences (like the fight over the deed, where Laurel is tickled into submission by the vampish villainess) alternate with more subdued, charming moments (like the endearing dance). The result is that the film leaves you wanting more, something few comedies can accomplish.
As much as critics praise SONS OF THE DESERT (which today resembles nothing more sophisticated than an episode of THE HONEYMOONERS) I think that anybody who carefully compares that film with WAY OUT WEST cannot deny that WAY OUT WEST is really the best of the Laurel and Hardy films.
In my pantheon of film comedy, WAY OUT WEST shares the stage with only about a dozen master works: CITY LIGHTS, THE GOLD RUSH, OUR HOSPITALITY, THE NAVIGATOR, DUCK SOUP, BRINGING UP BABY, the musical comedy TOP HAT, perhaps one or two others. What all of these film have in common is a sense of giddy abandon combined with exquisite pacing, memorable comic scenes (and in sound comedy, dialogue and musical asides), and most of all, the world's most beloved comic actors at their aesthetic zenith. Laurel and Hardy at their best rival the best of Chaplin, Keaton, the Marx Brothers, Grant and Hepburn, Astaire and Rogers and company -- and WAY OUT WEST is Laurel and Hardy at their VERY best.
Brian D. Sweeney
If there is a heaven, I'm sure this film will be playing there. With the exception of SONS OF THE DESERT this is Stan and Babe's best feature. It's pure Laurel and Hardy and you can't get much better than that. I saw this film at a revival in New York City. After the Boys famed song and dance outside the saloon, the audience gave the routine a resounding round of applause. Their humanity rushes from the screen. Their gags are impeccably timed and delivered. Example: watch Stan and Babe, especially Babe as he and Stan tell Finn about the deed to the mine. Babe is talking to Finn as Stan reaches down out of view to get the deed from his shoe. Stan reappears with deed in hand. Stan turns to see if anyone is watching as Babe pulls deed from Stan's hand. It's not a scene that can be properly related here. You must see it to appreciate brilliant comedy at work. As for the variety critic who reviewed WAY OUT WEST. He wouldn't know comedy if it hit him in the face like a custard pie. There are three comedy geniuses in cinema, Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel and Hardy. If there are any questions to that fact I urge you to view WAY OUT WEST and have a good time.
All of the greatest L&H elements in a nutshell - the interplay, the wonderful musical numbers, etc. It was never topped by L&H and rarely by anyone else.
L&H were, without a doubt, the most wonderful pair to ever do what they did. When I first saw WAY OUT WEST I had to have it. What a fantastic piece! I share the segment "at the ball, that's all" with anyone who will watch. I'm proud to be a fan of those two.
Outstanding film! Laurel and Hardy at their best. The music by Marvin Hatley fits the flow of the picture perfectly.
My favorite scenes are when L&H first come into town and do their little dance to the song "at the ball, that's all". The scene where Stan is trying to keep the map from Lola and she is tickling him has got to be one of the funniest things that they ever filmed. My love affair with L&H goes deeper then the comedy. When you listen to all the great music that is in all the movies and short films you realize that the talents of Marvin Hatley and Leroy Shields really gave the films a personality. The combination of these great composers, the wonderful talents and timing of Laurel and Hardy the supporting actors and actresses make all their efforts something that everyone should make an effort to enjoy. SONS OF THE DESERT is another one not to be missed!!
Frank Tokarchik Sr.
I have two sons, aged two and seven. After watching Way Out West, Laurel and Hardy has became a big favourite. No mean feat beating todays kiddie characters. The youngest boy especially asks to put the funny men on whilst the older one now has another two videos. My own father saw Laurel and Hardy leave their hotel (the Midland Hotel), buy a huge bag of sweets for the kids and have a haircut - all when he was a boy, when Laurel and Hardy where in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the 1940s.
Laurel and Hardy, there is only one word in my opinion, that comes to mind and that is pure genius. Well that is two but they were two, of the best around. Never to be seen again, they will never be copied or equaled. This is one of the best sites I have visited and have visited it a number of times and will again. Way out West for me was one if not the best of their films.