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Way Out West  (1937);
Topper  (1937)

Way Out West (1937)
July 28, 2006 - 7:30 pm

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The Film Foundation.

Way Out West  (1937)

Directed by James W. Horne

When asked what film made with partner Oliver Hardy was his favorite, Stan Laurel most often cited Way Out West. The Boys' only joint venture into the Old West, the film ranks at or near the top of great Laurel and Hardy films. Comedian Dick Van Dyke, a close friend of Stan Laurel, puts it at the top of his list, as do film historians William K. Everson and Leonard Maltin. Contemporary reviewers also held Way Out West in high regard—"Box Office" called it "a hilarious comedy, probably the best the team has made."

The story has Stan and Ollie traveling to Brushwood Gulch to deliver the deed of a gold mine to the daughter of their recently deceased friend. But in an attempt to obtain instant fortune for themselves, the girl's employers—a shady saloon owner and his dance-hall girlfriend—scheme to hide her true identity from the Boys.

All the typical Laurel and Hardy routines are present, plus the Boys also do a couple of very endearing musical numbers. Outside of the saloon, Stan and Ollie perform a soft shoe dance routine while the Avalon Boys sing "At the Ball." Inside the saloon, the two sing "On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine," a nice number that highlights the truly fine musical voice of Oliver Hardy. Stan sings too, but the big laugh at the end comes when first the deep bass voice of Chill Wills (character actor and vocalist for the Avalon Boys) and then the high falsetto of Rosina Lawrence are dubbed in for Stan's usual English music-hall vocals. Musical director Marvin T. Hatley received an Oscar nomination for the score.

Rob Stone

Hal Roach Studios, Inc./ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Producer: Hal Roach Screenwriters: Charles Rogers, Felix Adler, James Parrott Cinematographers: Art Lloyd, Walter Lundin Editor: Bert Jordan Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Sharon Lynne, James Finalyson, Rosina Lawrence, The Avalon Boys

35mm, 64 min.

Preserved from a 35mm nitrate positive print and a studio work print.  Laboratory services by The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Audio Mechanics, OJ Audio.  Special thanks to: Richard W. Bann. RHI Entertainment, and LLC.

Preceded by:

Preservation funded by Twentieth Century Fox

Under Two Flags—Trailer (1936)

35mm, 2 min.

Preserved in cooperation with Twentieth Century Fox and the Academy Film Archive from 35mm nitrate picture and soundtrack negatives. Laboratory services by Triage Motion Picture Services and OJ Audio. Special thanks to: Schawn Belston.

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The Stanford Theatre Foundation.

Topper  (1937)

Directed by Norman Z. Mcleod

Based on the novel by Thorne Smith, Topper spawned two sequels for Hal Roach Studios in 1939 and 1941, but nothing matches the peerless aplomb and stylish irreverence of director Norman Z. Mcleod's classic screwball original.

Cary Grant and Constance Bennett star as George and Marion Kerby, a high-flying pair of wealthy socialites who wake from a car wreck as ghosts in evening clothes. Roland Young, who earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, plays the title character, a hen-pecked banker in the middle of a full-blown midlife crisis whom the recently departed couple target for the good deed that will snap them out of limbo.

The Kerby's blase attitude to the afterlife, however, lies at the heart of the film's satiric brilliance and much of its mirthful humor. As insubstantial as spirits as they were as Manhattan gadabouts, the Kerbys readily embrace the breezy, free-floating life of happy-go-lucky ghosts as they try to put a disreputable spark back into Topper's respectable existence. Assisting them in their "ectoplasm ic" hijinks are a battery of special effects techniques. executed by Roy Seawright, that give contemporary digital prestidigitation a serious run for its money in the "How'd they do that?" department.

Alongside its technical achievements, Topper was Grant's first box-office hit and set the dizzy tone for his performances in the series of screwball comedies—The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday—that made him a household name.

–Paul Malcolm

Hal Roach Studios. Inc./ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Producer: Hal Roach Screenwriters: Jack Jevne, Eric Hatch, Eddie Moran Based on the novel "Topper" by Thorne Smith Cinematographer: Norbert Brodine Editor: William Terhune Cast: Constance Bennett, Cary Grant, Roland Young, Billie Burke

35mm, 96 min.

Preserved from the 35mm nitrate original picture and soundtrack negatives and a 35mm nitrate fine grain master positive.  Laboratory services by The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Audio Mechanics. OJ Audio.  Special thanks to: Richard W. Bann. RHI Entertainment, and LLC.