Out West

Out West is a 1918 American two-reel silent comedy film, a satire on contemporary westerns, starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Buster Keaton, and Al St. John. It was the first of Arbuckle’s “Comique” films to be filmed on the west coast, the previous five having been filmed in and around New York City. The idea for the story came from Natalie Talmadge, who was later to become Keaton’s first wife. The film contains racial stereotypes and attitudes, including a scene in which a gang of rowdy cowboys make a black man, played by Ernie Morrison Sr., dance by shooting at his feet.

The Plot

Arbuckle plays a drifter who has caught a ride hiding in a train’s water tank but is thrown off the train after being discovered stealing food from the passengers. He is chased by a group of Indians who intend to kill and eat him. He runs to a town called Mad Dog Gulch where he inadvertently foils a robbery attempt by Wild Bill Hickup (St John) and his gang after which the town sheriff (Keaton) appoints him the new bar tender of the local bar “The Last Chance Saloon”.

Later Hickup returns, this time drunk and causing chaos in the bar. After he begins forcing himself on a young lady “Salvation Sue” (Lake), The Bartender and the sheriff attempt to eject Hickup once again. When their attempts to knock him out by breaking bottles over his head and even shooting him in the back prove ineffective, they manage to subdue him by tickling him until he flees.

Humiliated, Hickup attempts to gain his revenge by kidnapping Sue and riding out of the town with her as his gang keep the bartender and the sheriff at bay. The bartender eventually breaks free and chases Hickup back to his shack as the Sheriff holds off Hickup’s men. After once again subduing Hickup by tickling him, the bartender and Sue push his shack off a hill with him still inside.

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