Wide Open Spaces
Series: Stan Laurel
Company: Pathé
Released: 06 July 1924
Type: silent short
Length: 2-reels
Production: L-10
Filming dates: December 5-15, 1923
Director: George Jeske
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Frank Young
Editor: Thomas Crizer
Titles: H.M. Walker
Assistant director: L.E. Dill
Gabriel Goober: Stan Laurel
Calamity Jane: Mae Laurel
Sheriff's wife: Ena Gregory
Jack McQueen: James Finlayson
Sheriff: George Rowe
Gang member: Noah Young
Businessman: William Gillespie
Businessman: Sammy Brooks


Man ventures out west to claim some land he has purchased but is met with resistance by a gang of murderers. He eventually gets his land after being made a deputy sheriff.

The following observations are from the 7 minutes of footage available to me for review:

On an isolated farm surrounded by steep hills Gabriel Goober (Stan Laurel) serenades a horse with a double bass until he falls through the pen enclosure due to excessive use of the bow on the instrument. A wagon stops by and Gabriel ventures over to fill it up with gas from a hand-cranking pump before waving the non-paying cowboys on their way. From a distance Gabriel is observed by the villainous Jack McQueen (James Finlayson), who gathers around his menacing looking gang and instructs them to get the lone farmer. They surround him until he pulls a knife and the gang quickly disperse.
Sitting on his horse Goober is alerted by a possible ambush about to take place by the gang down in the valley below and begins firing his guns in their direction and killing a few of them in the process. He enters his chalet to refill his gun with powder but finds none available, whilst outside McQueen releases all of the horses from their pen. Goober manages to call at least one of the horses to come back but as he tries to push it into the chalet the gang open fire upon him.
The gang arrive in town at a saloon where they encounter a group of businessmen all wearing top hats. The gang shoot up the place and take the men as hostages, as Goober watches on with Calamity Jane (Mae Laurel). Shortly afterwards the sheriff (George Rowe) arrives in town with his wife but he is sick. Goober goes outside to help him as the sheriff's wife (the beautiful Ena Gregory) is led inside the saloon by one of the gang members. This is where the footage ends.

Favourite bit
The final scene from the footage available is of Stan Laurel and George Rowe shaking hands.

Copyrighted June 30, 1924.
Working title and previewed as 'Wild Bill Hiccough'.
Rob Stone's book gives a release date of July 16, 1924.
When Stan falls through the fence after playing the double bass, the horse he is playing to tries to pull away but is attached to the piece of fence that has come away.
Approximately 6 minutes 50 seconds of the film is available on a French DVD, complete with added sound effects on the audio track.
Stan reads a magazine called The Campfire - October 1923 edition.
Stan Laurel always referred to the film as "Wild Bill Hiccup" in his own handwritten filmography and does not mention "Wide Open Spaces" at all.

What the experts say
"Because of the way the available footage has been edited it is difficult to make a genuine assessment of the film." ~ Lord Heath.

Stan Laurel
Gabriel Goober
Ena Gregory
Sheriff's wife
James Finlayson
Jack McQueen
George Rowe
Mae Laurel
Calamity Jane
William Gillespie
Businessman in saloon
Noah Young
Gang member
Jack O'Brien
Gang member
Jack Hill
Gang member
Dick Gilbert
Gang member
Chet Brandenburg
Gang member
Joe Bordeaux
Gang member
Al Ochs
Gang member
Don Maines
Gang member
Jack Ackroyd
Businessman in saloon
Gus Leonard
Businessman in saloon
Martin Wolfkeil
Businessman in saloon
Sammy Brooks
Businessman in saloon
Vera White
Ouida Wildman
Billy Engle
Phil Sheridan
Charles Dudley
A. Lincoln
Al Forbes
General Custer
Eddie Baker
Patsy O'Byrne
Harry Bayfield
Bill Brokaw
Charles Young
Harry Rattenbury


Laurel OR Hardy by Rob Stone (book)
Jesse Brisson (help and identification of Jack O'Brien, Al Ochs, Don Maines)

This page was last updated on: 29 May 2022