I have to confess that it was with some trepidation that I decided to review this film, let alone dedicate an entire section to it. I make no secret of the fact that I am not a huge fan of the feature length films, and would much prefer to watch the shorts. This is of course just my personal preference, so please don't bombard me with letters telling me how wrong I am!.
It had been at least 3 years or more since I had last watched Way Out West, so my memories were hazy to say the least... So, in goes the video cassette, and after 10 minutes a phrase involving books and covers springs to mind.
For me, the film opening set the scene perfectly, both as a Laurel and Hardy fan, and as a would-be film critic. Just the sight of Jimmy Finlayson is enough to capture me for the rest of the movie.... Stan and Ollie are on form, possibly more so than usual for me (even for a feature length film!)... Watching as Ollie is dragged through the middle of a river is a sweet reminder why I love The Boys so much.
The plot itself is well woven, and holds it's own fairly well for a sixty year old film. Finn is as good as ever, and Sharon Lynne provides an excellent counterpart. Once into the plot, one song alone sets about making history, and has me in hysterics. "Trail of the Lonesome Pine" is not only a classic piece of comedy, notably Stan's remarkable ability to change key when hit with a mallet, but also proves (if proof were needed) that Babe had a remarkable singing voice. That said, Stan seems to have quite an ear for harmony, and a talent for staying conscious until he has finished singing!
When the truth is outed, and the real Mary revealed to the Boys, the film goes from strength to strength. Stan's promise to retrieve the deed or "eat Ollie's hat" is classic, particularly when forced to consume said hat! Combine that with "thumb lighters", and you have all the ingredients of a classic Laurel and Hardy movie.
The continuity in this film pleasantly surprised me...I was surprised to see that in the scenes where Stan and Ollie are breaking into Finn's bar, Ollie's hat still has a large chunk bitten out of it. Attention to detail like that is rare in a film of this age, and is to be commended.
The breaking and entering scene is perhaps the only scene I found a little "same-ish" (if there is such a word!). For me it smacks of "seen it before", although the mule on the pulley is the main redeeming feature of this.
Once inside the house, the quality shoots back up, with some beautiful interplay between Hardy and Finn, and Laurel and Sharon Lynne. When the deed is recovered and all is said and done, this film does not suffer the unfortunate fate that has befallen many other Laurel and Hardy films...the abrubt ending. Instead the films ends with a nice, and somewhat touching scene between The Boys and Mary, back on the road, and heading for more trouble......
So there we have it...An all time classic, according to most fans, and now a firm favourite with yours truly. It is not often I enjoy being proven wrong, but in this case I am more than happy to make an exception....I thoroughly enjoyed this film. 60 minutes seems to fly by when you are having the time of your life.....