Sunday, 5 August 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1937: Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel in Way Out West

Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel did not receive Oscar nominations for portraying Ollie and Stan in Way Out West.

Way Out West is a very enjoyable comedy in the Laurel and Hardy cannon as the two attempt to bring a deed to a successful mine to its rightful owner.

I am not reviewing these separately because it never for a moment crossed my mind and it is impossible for me to talk about one performance without talking about the other. They are through and through a team so much so that after Hardy died Laurel refused to ever be in a film again because he could not share the screen with Hardy. They are the greatest comedic duo of all time as far as I am concerned, and they are easily my favorite of the early film comedians. There is something though I should note that in all of the performances together as the pair Laurel and Hardy, or at least all that I have seen so far, they always play the same characters Ollie and Stan.

Although their films can result in many different situations and sometimes result in the death of at least one of them, they are always ready for another go in the very next film. They always a pair of seemingly downtrodden fellows who are always more than happy to help others even if it can be quite detrimental to themselves, or as well they can find an opponent they must deal with. In any situation craziness is sure to ensue as well as hilarity. I will only review them here together only because their roles are rather consistent, as they should since their comedy never gets old, and I chose this film simply because it is one of the very best examples of their talents.

This time they head into an old west town to get a deed to its proper owner and of course run into plenty of trouble a hilarious slapstick humor on their way their. I should say one thing that makes the two's humor work so marvelously is how gentle they are well suffering all sorts of physical pain. Both Laurel and Hardy never stop being soft spoken in any situation and their gentlemanly manner that both carry so well is just hilarious. They take every fall just so well that makes it as easy as possible through and through, and their resolve to push through in a completely pleasant fashion makes them just so likable.

I should take each of them at a time and I might as well start with the simpler (dumber) of the two Stan. Laurel face is absolutely priceless in just his simple expression of the lack of thought inside of his head at times. Laurel has a certain matter of fact quality to his performance that every thing that Stan does whether it is taking joy in eating a hat, nonchalantly lighting his thumb on fire, or seeing his friend fall mysteriously into water that seemed shallow a second ago Laurel always shows it to be nothing at all out of the ordinary for Stan despite how strange his abilities might at time.

As for Ollie Hardy shows Ollie to have quite a bit more of a sense about what is going on although he takes pretty much everything in stride, and at worst gives Stan a little push. Hardy is equally terrific in being the man taken aback though by everything happening whether it is with a loud yell from a fall, a quick polite hand gesture in an awkward situation, or his hilarious stares toward the camera when reacting to Stan. Hardy just delivers one great reaction after another with his performance always playing off Laurel in perfect harmony resulting in comedic greatness.

These two never fail to bring a smile to my face in any situation. Their comedic timing has few rivals and they always amplify every physical gag through their spot on facial or physical reactions. They are equally strong though in their kindly banter between the two with Hardy's displaying Ollie's more proper manner in speaking that plays off well against Laurel's depiction of Stan's rather more blunt method at times. They are both hilarious and equals in almost every way but one which is that Hardy is a far more talented singer, but still though both wonderful in their entertaining rendition of "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine".

These two are simply a joy to watch throughout the film. The only problem is how I could possibly rate their performances. They are both perfect in their depiction of Stan and Ollie. Sure their performances are not technically original in that they are playing parts, their performances never get old. These two are giving their very best, which they consistently did through every performance, although I would say this film is an especially strong example of their talent.  I am a bit torn as giving them a five might seem unfair to actors portraying completely different characters and portraying more of an arc, but giving them less for being so good at exactly what they should be good at seems unfair as well. I am going to have think more about this I must say and right now for the moment I will just say I love both of these performances. (Updated I will settle for 4.5 great performances but technically speaking not ground breaking).


Michael Patison said...

Why not a 5 and then rank them below everybody else who you end up giving a 5 to? Either that or just give them 4.5s.

RatedRStar said...

I agree with 4.5, at the predictions page I said they would finish last (im wrong) purely because I always find their work great but not amazing and a 5 rating would make it seem amazing.