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Sons of the Desert
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Sons of the Desert More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

"Where'd you get those eyes...and the dark complexion - that I idolize?"

Author: theowinthrop from United States
16 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is either this, BABES IN TOYLAND, or WAY OUT WEST. One of these three feature films is the best feature film that Laurel & Hardy made in their careers (and they made over twenty feature films together). Most critics feel it is SONS OF THE DESERT - possibly the proof of it is that the international Laurel & Hardy society that exists (like The Baker Street Irregulars for Sherlock Holmes) is named THE SONS OF THE DESERT.

It is a smart little comedy, with the most threadbare of L & H plots (one they used in many of their shorts, both silent and sound). The boys have an opportunity to go on a convention with their social group, "The Sons" to Chicago. But Mrs. Hardy and Mrs. Laurel would like to go to the mountains with their husbands for their vacation. When Stan puts out his feeble, slightly hen-pecked objections, Ollie begins his insistence that in his home his word is law, and Mrs. H. (Mae Busch here) will accept it whether she likes it or not. If you are aware that Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton were based in part on Ollie and Stan, the central situation here ("I'm Lord of the Castle!") is clearly the normal heated point Ralph is always trying to get across - and one Alice repeated deflated in their confrontations.

Mae and Dotty Christie (Mrs. Laurel) are not pushovers - in fact Mae is far more violent towards Ollie than Alice was ever toward Ralph. Dotty too has a violent side (she's a crack rifle shot - which is something worrisome to Stan). But after an initial set-back by the ladies, Ollie comes up with a tried and true suggestion - his nerves have collapsed, and Stan will bring in a doctor to examine him and say he needs to go on a long sea voyage to Hawaii with Stan for rest. The girls are convinced, despite the odd behavior of the "doctor" Stan finds (who treats Ollie like a pet dog - he should, the doctor is actually a veterinarian). So Stan and Ollie leave for the trip, but soon are in Chicago.

The film is great on details that remind us of a simpler time. The convention is a showcase for that other great (but underrated) Roach comedian Charlie Chase - here as a constant practical joker, who targets the boys. Chase also nearly spoils their lie by turning out to be Ollie's brother-in-law, and calling Mae up to introduce her to this great fellow (Ollie, of course) she would like! The convention also has that musical number, "Hallelujah Baby!" which spoofs Dick Powell a little.

There are other great moments: Ollie setting up a hammock for himself and Stan, and trying to teach him the phrase "two peas in a pod" (the word "pod" never got such a definitive concluding "d" sound before or since Ollie corrected Stan about it). There is also the issue of ship hiking (you have to be there to understand - it's like hitchhiking at sea!). And in the end one has to wonder if consistent lying is worth it or not. Certainly the boys end up wondering about that point.

William Seiter was the director here - his only foray into Laurel & Hardy's world. He was also the director of ROOM SERVICE with the Marx Brothers, which I happen to think highly of too. To me, even if he did no other films besides these two, he demonstrated in both a remarkable gift for effective film comedy.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

One of My Favorite Laurel & Hardy movies!

Author: ( from U.S.A
20 July 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Laurel and Hardy are members of a society called the Sons of the Desert. There would be a convention in Chicago the following week and the exhaulted ruler had all the members take an oath.

Stan was afraid maybe his wife wouldn't let him go. Ollie assures him she will because, "every man should be king in his own castle". When Ollie asks his wife, she says no and says they're going to the mountains. There was only one thing to do: Ollie feigned illness and arranged it so the doctor would say he'd have to go to Honolulu for his health, and it worked, considering the doctor Stan got was a veterinarian, because he didn't think his religion would make any difference. Everything goes great. Stan and Ollie go to the convention and have a great time. Ollie meets his brother in-law, Charley Chase, but he didn't know that was his brother in-law. Their plan had worked. What they didn't count on was a Honolulu liner had sunk. They find out when they get home, and they see the wives coming! So they bolt up to the attic. They decide to stay there the night. Ollie says they'll set up a bed and be just as comfortable as two peas in a pod. But what they didn't count on was a storm. Lightning stuck them and made such a racket, that Stan's wife, Betty, came up to the attic to check it out, shotgun in hand. Stan and Ollie got on the roof. Ollie decided they'll climb down the drain pipe, put their clothes on in the garage and go to a hotel. Stan declines but Ollie threatens to tell his wife he caught him smoking otherwise. A nervous Stan decided that they would climb down the garage, put their clothes on in the drain pipe and go to a hotel and be just as comfortable as two peas in a PO-DUH. What they didn't count on was a cop spotting them. Stan gave

them away so they went to Ollie's house. Ollie told the wives about the horrible shipwreck and how they "shiphiked" to get home, but Betty forced the truth out of Stan. The Laurels left while Mrs. Hardy began taking pots and pans out. When Stan returned, poor Ollie was getting things thrown at him. Stan reports that Betty said, "honesty is the best politics". This is my favorite Laurel and Hardy movie. It's alot like Be Big. If you saw Be Big, you'll know what I'm talking about.

A good idea. So if you can find it, this film comes recommended.


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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Amusing comedy gets better after a slow start...

Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
15 March 2008

LAUREL & HARDY are next door neighbors (married to DOROTHY CHRISTY and MAE BUSCH, respectively), both strong-minded women who remind me of the "Alice Kramden" character on "The Honeymooners". Neither one wants their hubby to go to a Chicago convention of The Sons of the Desert, so the boys have to fake an excuse in order to bamboozle their wives into thinking Oliver is following his doctor's orders to get a restful vacation in Honolulu.

At the convention, it's a hoot to see dancing girls in Hawaian costumes (beefy and overweight by today's anorexic standards) while a slim male singer/dancer renders "Honolulu Baby" in a tenor voice. CHARLEY CHASE has a field day playing practical jokes on the boys, but it's the return home part of the story that really is the set-up for the best gags. In fact, it's the last twenty-five minutes that puts the film over the top as one of the best Laurel & Hardy features.

Written by Frank Craven (the film actor, who also contributed to several screenplays) and directed by George A. Seiter, it's obviously the forerunner of many situation comedies about quarreling husbands and wives trying to outsmart each other.

Stan is surprisingly funny when given a long, wordy sentence to say, and Oliver's facial reactions (especially when he fixes his gaze on the camera as if to say, 'Can you believe this?'), are priceless.

Lots of fun for fans of the comedians.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: rtn999 ( from Indianapolis, IN
8 April 2004

If Laurel & Hardy had never made any other film, they would have secured their place in movie history with "Sons Of The Desert". It is the perfect Laurel & Hardy feature. The cutaway to Oliver Hardy's reaction as Stan Laurel confesses the whole complicated scheme to their wives is quite possibly the single funniest shot in the history of the motion picture. If you've never seen a Laurel & Hardy feature, this is the one to see. Stan Laurel was a comic genius. Oliver Hardy was probably the funniest man to ever step in front of a movie camera. This film epitomizes "classic comedy".

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A must see

Author: jcgreg from Norwich, ct
2 August 1999

I could watch this film at least once a day. Rich in sight gags and double takes. The Boys at their very BEST. It is a shame that the younger computer/films in color generation does not have a real appreciation for the Boys. My favorite scene is the floor show at the night club. Note the third rate chorus line, in particular the cutie with the special moves. I have never seen a group so bad, but they are charming.makes you want to sing and dance along with them. Also Ollie reading the newspaper story about the shipwreck . instant panic by Stany. Watch this scene in slow motion on your vcr to get a classic Stanny moment. Also, cannot leave out the news reel scene in the movie theatre. Loads and loads of fun. In fact, I am going to look for my copy now. Great Fun when you are having a bad day.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

a comedy classic from "The Boys"

Author: Robert D. Ruplenas
11 June 1999

That part of the populace that does not know or appreciate the work of Laurel and Hardy are mystified by the beguiled adoration their true fans - like myself - have for "The Boys". Of course, those folks don't know what deprived lives they are leading in not being able to enter the uniquely zany world of Stan and Ollie.

Although The Boys shone their brightest in their comedy shorts, "Sons of the Desert", one of their earliest full-length features, is also one of their best in that genre. Mae Busch, who added so much to their movies, is in top form here as Ollie's hectoring wife.

"PoD. Pod-uh"

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Much-Loved Laurel & Hardy Comic Masterpiece Of Marital Bliss

Author: ShootingShark from Dundee, Scotland
21 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Stan and Ollie pledge a solemn oath to their masonic brotherhood (the Sons Of The Desert) to attend the annual conference in Chicago, but Ollie's wife won't let him go. They hatch a harebrained scheme to pretend he is ill and must take a sea-voyage to Honolulu to recuperate as a cover-story, but disaster awaits ...

This is arguably Laurel & Hardy's best and most famous film (though Babes In Toyland and Way Out West are also sensational), a tremendous example of their combined slapstick and character-comedy style. Like the best farce, the progressively more ridiculous situations are absurd, but the path by which they are arrived at has a wonderful logic to it. It's stuffed full of funny moments, most of which are just Laurel's bewilderingly absent-minded nuances and Hardy's exasperated annoyance, but the last reel especially, when the ruse is discovered, is simply hilarious. Produced by the great Hal Roach; Busch is fantastic as Hardy's shrill crockery-smashing wife. Seventy years later, it's sometimes hard to see why these films were so astonishingly popular, but there wasn't much to laugh about in 1933, and this film brightened millions of lives.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

one can see the possible inspiration for Gilligan and the Skipper

Author: Lee Eisenberg ( from Portland, Oregon, USA
6 December 2007

No one can deny that Laurel and Hardy were THE comic duo. "Sons of the Desert" is one of many movies showing this. This one has them as members of a Shriners-like society attending a convention against the wishes of their strict wives. While it was obvious that Stan and Ollie's wives were going to somehow discover what the two men were up to, I still couldn't have predicted what would result! You gotta wonder how much fun they must have had filming it! I once read about how, because Laurel's the idiot and Hardy's the straight man, their embarrassing situations always lead to greater shame for Hardy since it's more of a downfall for him. That's the case here all the way! Watching the movie, I get the feeling that their mishaps may have inspired the antics of Gilligan and the Skipper.

All in all, a really funny movie.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

L & H trademarks

Author: ALauff from Chicago
3 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although this is considered Laurel and Hardy's greatest feature, the comic promise of their clandestine getaway isn't fulfilled until the boys return from Chicago and have to convince their wives that they're survivors of a shipwreck. Stan and Ollie were clearly at their expressive peaks, with Laurel's sudden crying fits, malapropism, and head-scratching proving hilarious once their ruse is up, and Hardy's trademark, dainty finger wave and pedantic diction coming across as an effortless personality quirk. My favorite moment is Stanley's sudden burst of articulate speech in the attic—Oliver's wide-eyed surprise and put-out gaze into the camera is priceless. In fact, the last 20–25 minutes are best-ever material, but it isn't as compelling for its entire length as Way Out West or their best shorts, such as Tit for Tat and The Music Box.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Some say it's their best work,I say it's great but I've seen them better.

Author: SmileysWorld from United States
21 September 2007

It has been said and very often that Sons of the Desert is Laurel and Hardy's best film,and I won't dispute anyone who has this opinion,but speaking from a matter of personal taste,I have seen them funnier.When it comes to L & H,you have to go by what film gives you the most laughs,and while this film provides plenty of them,I have gotten way more laughs out of films like Way Out West and even the 30 minute short classic The Music Box.Anyway you slice it,the boys are in their prime and in top form here from Stan's crying and constant up and down eyebrow movements to Ollie "breaking he fourth wall".Nobody was better at this than Babe Hardy,and I don't think this can be disputed.In my opinion,it's not their absolute best,but certainly amongst their best.A classic comedy.

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