NO MAN’S LAW (1927)

No Man's Law (1927) lobby card

No Man’s Law is about as odd and obscure as it gets. Produced by Hal Roach, it stars Rex, King of the Wild Horses, Oliver Hardy (as a vile villain), James Finlayson,and Barbara Kent. Directed by some guy named Fred Jackman.

No Man's Law (1927) Oliver Hardy

Oliver Hardy is one-eyed, grizzled, no good fugitive cuss Sharkey Nye, prospecting for gold with good guy partner Spider O’ Day, played by Theodore Von Eltz.  James Finlayson, of many Laurel & Hardy shorts, has cute Barbara Kent for a daughter and he is prospecting too but he’s not very good at it.  Rex, the horse, surveying his territory, does not take a liking to Ollie.  When Ollie gets a wee bit too close to a skinny-dipping Barbara, Rex steps in, chasing off Ollie.

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WAY OUT WEST (1937)

WAY OUT WEST lobby card 1937Way Out West lobby card with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy

Stan Laurel and Oliver hardy were, without question, the most successful comedy team in Hollywood history. Not only were they artistically and financially successful but, unlike Abbot and Costello or Martin and Lewis, who pale in comparison, Stan and Ollie actually got along personally because they had a smart approach to their collaboration; for most of their career together they did not associate with each other off-screen.

Laurel & Hardy cartoon

Stan was certainly the creative end and stories abound about his dedication to his work (and neglect of his multiple wives). Stan often co-wrote the films, produced, co-directed and oversaw editing (usually uncredited). Indeed Stan and Ollie’s career together actually began with Stan directing Ollie in a number of shorts. For Stan Laurel, work was often from dusk til dawn.

Way Out West lobby card ( Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Vivien Oakland)

Oliver Hardy had a much different approach. For him, work was essential, but it was still a 9 to 5 job. Once the day was done, he bid Stan and crew good-bye and went home to play sports with family and friends. Ollie was perfectly content with Stan being the creative end and whenever he was asked a question regarding the film work he usually said, “Ask Stan.”

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NO MAN’S LAW (1927)

No Man’s Law is about as odd and obscure as it gets. Produced by Hal Roach, it stars Rex, King of the Wild Horses, Oliver Hardy (as a vile villain), James Finlayson,and Barbara Kent. Directed by some guy named Fred Jackman.

Oliver Hardy is one-eyed, grizzled, no good fugitive cuss Sharkey Nye, prospecting for gold with good guy partner Spider O’ Day, played by Theodore Von Eltz.  James Finlayson, of many Laurel & Hardy shorts, has cute Barbara Kent for a daughter and he is prospecting too but he’s not very good at it.  Rex, the horse, surveying his territory, does not take a liking to Ollie.  When Ollie gets a wee bit too close to a skinny-dipping Barbara, Rex steps in, chasing off Ollie.

Rex knows trouble is afoot and Ollie proves Rex right by plotting to kill Finlayson.  It’s murderous slapstick business as Ollie tries first to kill Finlayson, then tries to rape Barbara repeatedly, then kill Theodore.  Every time, Rex steps in just in time to save the day, finally in time to kill off Ollie.

That’s about all there is to the plot, and No Man’s Law would not be remarkable at all if it weren’t for Roach’s trademark slapstick style being channeled into Oliver Hardy attempting to kill and rape his co-stars.  Top-billed Rex is barely in it, showing up only when necessary.  Kent is certainly doing her best Mabel Normand.  For once, Finlayson has a  somewhat sympathetic part, and Ollie gets no sympathy whatsoever.

The slapstick business comes when Ollie tries to kill Finlayson by causing a cave-in at a mine and then by pushing him off a cliff.  More slapstick follows when Ollie gets into a fight with Eltz, plays cards with him (while Finlayson crawls under the table in his PJs), fights him again over a gun, shoots him (just a wound), and chases Barbara around the house trying to rape her.  It all wraps up nicely when then Ollie is in in hot flight from the rampaging Rex, who finally kills him.  All is supposedly good. but after seeing sweet childhood hero Ollie slime it up for an hour, I just wanted to go take a shower.

Weird.  Take this one to your next party.