Series: Laurel and Hardy feature

Director: William A. Seiter
Producer: Hal Roach
Story: Frank Craven
Photography: Kenneth Peach
Editor: Bert Jordan
Sound: Harry Baker

Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charley Chase, Mae Busch, Dorothy Christy, Lucien Littlefield
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 29 December 1933
Length: 7 reels
Production No.: F-4
Filming dates: October 2-23, 1933
Rating: 10/10

Sons Of The Desert

Available on BLU-RAY & DVD:

The Sons of the Desert, a brotherhood of men who are a fraternal organisation, are holding a meeting in their home town to announce a forthcoming annual convention which is due to take place in Chicago. Two of the members of the club arrive late (bet you can't guess which two) and bring a temporary halt to the proceedings before an oath is taken by all the men to attend.  Ollie is firm in his commitment, but Stan is apprehensive; afraid of the consequences from his wife if he pledges his allegiance.  When they arrive home (they live next door to one another) Stan discovers that his wife has gone out duck hunting so he spends the evening with the Hardy's (this is after a long scene involving ringing each other's doorbells!)
Stan makes himself comfortable in an armchair with a magazine whilst under the watchful eye of Mrs. Hardy (Mae Busch), and begins to discreetly consume a wax apple from a bowl of 'fruit', seemingly oblivious to its taste. Ollie conveniently forgets to tell his wife about the convention he has promised to go to when Stan drops him in it by reminding him. Mrs. Hardy makes it perfectly clear that Ollie cannot go owing to a planned trip to the mountains they had previously arranged whilst holding a sharp knife in her hand and pointing it very deliberately in her husband's direction.
Ollie does temporarily stand up to her but his efforts are in vain when she berates him in front of Stan, who doesn't make things any easier for Ollie either when the pipe he blows into emitts a sound resembling that of a raspberry just as the wife finishes her lecture. Ollie gets a vase smashed over his head for his innocence, with a second vase following shortly afterwards when he makes light of the situation and a third soon after that.
With Mrs. Hardy in the kitchen, Stan and Ollie sit down to discuss the potential problems in the Hardy-marriage, with Stan playing the marriage counsellor and offering some strong advice for his downtrodden friend, not realising the his own wife has turned up and is overhearing the entire conversation.  Stan makes a slow, 'quick' exit (another well thought-out routine).
Next morning and Ollie is seen in his pyjamas with his bare feet in a large pale of water with Mrs. Hardy nursing him. She is unaware of his ploy to feign an illness in order for him to escape the mountain trip with her as planned and acts upset when she tells him Stan has sought the help of a doctor (though we are wise to him when he gives that look at the camera!) Stan arrives and tells Ollie the doctor is on his way then promptly causes havoc with the pale of water, spilling the contents all over the floor and even getting his head stuck in it with Mae Busch sitting on him! The doctor arrives (Dirty Work's mad scientist Lucien Littlefield) and is actually an animal doctor instead.
Ollie: "Now why did you get a vetenarian?"  Stan: "Well I didn't think his religion would make any difference?"  The doctor, as pre-instructed tells Mrs. Hardy that Ollie needs to go to Honolulu for the sake of his health.  She buys it, not realising it's a ploy so that Ollie can attend the convention without her suspicion.  The stage is set, and the boys sneak off to Chicago for a great time.  They arrive at the convention and immediately greeted by a fellow 'Son' who has a tendancy for practical jokes (Charley Chase - who adds a real comedy touch to the scenes he appears in).  After the prelimanary introductions their new friend decides to play a prank telephone call on his sister in Los Angeles and gets Ollie to flirt with her, little realising that the woman on the other end is the one and only Mrs. Hardy.  Ollie's face when he realises who he is speaking with is priceless! Mrs. Hardy confides in Mrs. Laurel that she suspects it was Ollie on the other end of the line and the two women discuss the possible consequences for the men if this was to be proven.

Charley Chase's last contribution to the plot sees him take his practical joking one step too far when the husband of a woman he has just struck punches him out cold.
Later news breaks out of an ill-fated voyage to Hawaii which results in the unknown certainty of the many survivors. The two wives panic and head towards the steamship's headquarters to hear the official announcement. Of course, Stan and Ollie are oblivious to this development and arrive home to surprise their wives with Ollie performing "Honolulu Baby" on a ukulele as Stan dances on the doorstep.  When there is no answer at the door the boys go inside Ollie's house and soon find the newspaper that reveals their predicament. Quickly the boys hurry up into the attic to hide away just as their wives return home. When the ladies hear a noise (not realising it's their husbands) they become afraid to stay in the house and leave again and take refuge in the local theatre, as the boys fix themselves up a bed for the night in the attic.
The film showing at the theatre is the annual convention their husbands had secretly attended, which of course exposes them when they appear in the movie. The angry wives return home and bicker about which husband was to blame. A little while later a flash of lightning causes a disturbance up in the attic which throws the boys out of their makeshift bed, all of which the wives hear and go to investigate with shotgun in hand. Stan and Ollie overhear Mrs. Laurel's announcement that she is armed and intends to shoot-to-kill when she climbs up to investigate. The boys make a quick exit up onto the roof in their pyjamas as the rain falls down. Cold, wet and tired Stan decides he wants to come clean and go home but soon changes his mind when Ollie threatens to blackmail him by telling his wife that he caught Stan smoking. So they climb down the drainpipe in order to make their escape but are caught by passing cop Harry Bernard who demands to know what they are up to. When the boys refuse to co-operate the officer rings the doorbell to the house and the wives welcome their husbands back home - for the inquisition!
Now based on what Ollie had read in the newspaper earlier, he begins to make up a story relating to the facts, unaware the wives are already wise to them. When Ollie's ridiculous testimony is over, Mrs. Hardy brands him a liar and confirms that the two men are no better than each other. Stan on the other hand crumbles and spills the beans when he is questioned by his wife; Ollie's facial resignation is priceless! Whilst Stan is led away to be pampered for his honesty, Ollie is left to face the music with his wife - and the music is very loud indeed. Pots and pans loud.

Favourite bit
If ever there was a Laurel & Hardy moment to make me laugh so hard it's this one.  Stan has helped himself to a wax apple, not realising it's fake and sits quietly in Ollie's armchair consuming it.  It's his facial expressions as he tries to swallow the inedible (for most people) item that capture the attention of the viewer.  The scene is played with no background music or distraction and Laurel completely owns the screen with his raised eyebrows, hard attempts of swallowing and his general discomfort.  It's one of the funniest scenes he has ever done.

Copyrighted December 27, 1933.
UK title: Fraternally Yours.
This film was reissued in the early 1950s as a two-reeler entitled "Fun On The Run".
Initially the role of Mrs. Laurel was to be offered to Patsy Kelly. This would have come into fruition had it not been for the fact that Miss Kelly, at the time of shooting, was working on another film project (MGM's "Going Hollywood" starring Bing Crosby) which ran over schedule. Dorothy Christy had stepped in on the first day of shooting the part. Additionally, Anita Garvin had, (once again), turned down the part of Mrs. Hardy... and, as usual, Mae Busch was the substitute choice.
Laurel & Hardy composer Marvin Hatley can be glimpsed briefly during the "Honolulu Baby" number, playing the piano in the background. He also wrote the song, which ended up as the b-side of the record "The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine" in 1975.
The film begins with the members of the Sons of the Desert singing "Auld Lang Syne".
Stan and Ollie belong to the California lodge, Oasis number 13.
When Stan starts to eat the wax apple he is reading a magazine called "American". The footer headline reads "Big changes ahead".
Stan takes four bites of the apple before he is caught.
When Mae Busch tells Ollie he cannot go to the convention because of a trip to the mountains they had arranged prior, I wonder if she knew that a year later they would actually both be taking a trip to the mountains (separately) in Them Thar Hills?! In the same scene, she holds a large kitchen knife and intimidates Hardy with it, pointing it at him. She would repeat this act, albeit on a much more sinister scale in their next film together Oliver The Eighth.
Mae Busch almost repeats her berating of Ollie from Unaccustomed As We Are when she makes him feel guilty for not appreciating her efforts in front of Stan.
Mae Busch seems to go from one extreme to another with her treatment of Ollie. In one scene she is throwing vases at his head and being controlling of him, and in the next scene she is lovingly caring for him as he (unbeknownst to her) fakes his illness. That is some wife!
In the scene where Stan arrives at the house to tell Ollie about the doctor watch the movement of the camera. When Ollie asks "Did you get the doctor" and Stan replies "Yeah, he'll be here in a few minutes" the camera suddenly jerks hard to the right.
When Stan goes to the shelf to get the barometer, there are an assortment of items on the bookcase. These include a porcelein horse's head, a dog and a golf trophy (with a man swinging a club behind his head), as well as a book called Wild Honey.
The inscription on the doctor's van reads:

The sash's worn by some of the members: Stan & Ollie - Los Angeles, Charley Chase - Texas, Baldwin Cooke - New York.
During the song Honolulu Baby, nine hula girls take to the dancefloor.
The Hardy's address is 2222 Fairview Avenue, Los Angeles, California.
The Los Angeles Bulletin, the newspaper that gives us the headline "Honolulu Liner Sinking!! Foundering In Typhoon" - was established in 1897 and costs 3 cents. This exact same newspaper was re-used later in the Our Gang film Sprucin' Up. See this image for comparison.
The boat that Stan and Ollie were supposedly on was called the S.S. Muana.
During the announcement of the ship's sinking at the headquarters, the man giving the speech with his back to the camera is an unknown actor called "Mr. Ruttlegde". This voice over speech is provided by Billy Gilbert.
When the boys set up their bed in the attic the alarm clock they have reads 8:54pm.
After the boys have climbed down the drainpipe in the pouring rain and both ended up in a barrel of water soaking wet, they are then escorted to their front door by the policeman. When they step inside their house they are completely dry!
When Stan rings Ollie's doorbell in the last scene (after Ollie's beating) the rain outside seems to be blowing in from the side!

My opinion
Solid comedy, absolutely spot-on. It's pretty much the best Laurel and Hardy feature film in terms of plot, gags, drama, comedy and routines. Brilliant cast, some memorable songs and a really good scene featuring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Charley Chase all together. What more do you want? A thousand times funnier than "Block-Heads". Easily.

Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Charley Chase
Charley Chase
Mae Busch
Lottie Hardy
Dorothy Christy
Betty Laurel
Lucien Littlefield
Dr. Horace Meddick
Harry Bernard
Bartender/Police officer
Sam Lufkin
First waiter
Charlie Hall
Second waiter
Ernie Alexander
Third waiter
Charles Giblyn
Exhausted ruler
John Elliott
Exalted Exhausted ruler
Baldwin Cooke
Son of the Desert (New York)/
Man introducing Mr. Ruttledge
Stanley Blystone
Ty Parvis
Singer at convention
Lead Hula dancer
Marvin Hatley
Billy Gilbert
Mr. Ruttledge (VOICE ONLY)
Lillian DeBorba
Theatre patron
(seated in front of Mrs. Hardy)
Sydney Jarvis
Assitant Exhaulted Ruler
Ellen Corby
Woman on table next to Charley Chase's
Johnny Kascier
Steamship onlooker/
Theatre patron
Eddie Baker
Son of the Desert
Gladys Gale
Mrs. New York 43
Skeets Noyes
Cab driver
Malcolm McTaggart
Movie theatre usher
Suzanna Kim
Jimmy Aubrey
Brooks Benedict
Chet Brandenburg
Don Brodie
Bob Burns
Tony Campanaro
Robert Cummings
William Gillespie
Pat Harmon
Charles McAvoy
Philo McCullough
John Merton
Lillian Moore
Nena Quartero
Hal Roach
Virginia Ruth Rogers
Al Thompson
Max Wagner
Charles Lloyd
Hope Harper
Steamship announcement witness
Edna Hall
Theatre patron
The Hollywood American Legion Post
The Santa Monica Lodge of Elks


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (book)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Hope Harper, Skeets Noyes, Malcolm McTaggart)

This page was last updated on: 28 May 2024