Way Out West (1930 film)

Way Out West is a 1930 American pre-Code comedy film, action, drama, music, romance, western parody directed by Fred Niblo and starring William Haines, Leila Hyams, Polly Moran, and Ralph Bushman. It tells the story of "Windy", a con man who cheats a group of cowboys out of their money. When they discover his cheating and learn that he himself has been robbed, they force him to work on a ranch until he has paid his debt.

Way Out West
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFred Niblo
Screenplay byJoseph Farnham
Byron Morgan
Ralph Spence
Story byByron Morgan
StarringWilliam Haines
Leila Hyams
Polly Moran
Ralph Bushman
Music byJoseph Meyer
CinematographyHenry Sharp
Edited byJerome Thoms
William S. Gray
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • August 2, 1930 (1930-08-02)
Running time
71 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$497,000


Windy, a sideshow barker, cheats a group of cowboys out of their pay, but is then robbed himself. When the cowboys discover they have been cheated, they initially decide to hang him, then decide to make him work off his debt. He falls in love with ranch owner Molly, and when he saves her life after she is bitten by a rattlesnake, he wins her heart.[2]



Way Out West was made on a budget of $413,000, one of the most expensive William Haines vehicles.[3]


The New York Times deemed Way Out West "an impertinent, moderately comic affair tinctured with slapstick and romance".[2] The film made a profit of $84,000, making it one of the least profitable of Haines's films of the period.[3]

Gay film historians, noting the homosexuality of William Haines, suggest that Way Out West is "one of the gayest films ever made".[4] Haines biographer William J. Mann cites latent homoeroticism and inside gay humor throughout the film. In one particular example, viewed in light of the Pansy Craze that was beginning to reach Hollywood, Windy is mistaken for the cook, Pansy. When called by her name, he replies, "I'm the wildest pansy you ever picked!"[5] Richard Barrios, author of Screened Out: Playing Gay in Hollywood from Edison to Stonewall, concurs, writing, "For anyone seeking gay text or subtext in any of Haines's movies, this is the one to study."[6]


  1. Way Out West (1930)
  2. THE SCREEN; Triumphant Impudence.
  3. Mann (1998), p. 169
  4. Mann, William J. (2004). Gay Pride: A Celebration of All Things Gay and Lesbian. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2563-0. p. 161
  5. Mann, William J. (1998). Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, Hollywood's First Openly Gay Star. New York, Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-670-87155-9. pp. 167—68
  6. Barrios, Richard (2003). Screened Out: Playing Gay in Hollywood from Edison to Stonewall. Psychology Press. ISBN 0-415-92328-X. , pp. 47—8

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