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Film / Sons of the Desert

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Sons of the Desert is a 1933 comedy film starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, produced by Hal Roach and directed by William A. Seiter.

Stan and Ollie are neighbors and fellow members of the "Sons of the Desert" society. They very much want to go to the society's national convention in Chicago, but Ollie's wife, Lottie, has a previously scheduled vacation in the mountains and categorically refuses to let Ollie go. Stan and Ollie conduct a wacky scheme in which Ollie fakes an illness and convinces his wife that he needs a health cruise to Hawaii. It works, and the boys attend the convention—but they have difficulties on the way home.

Charley Chase, a fellow veteran of Roach-produced short comedies going back to the silent days, has a supporting role as an obnoxious conventioneer.


This film contains examples of:

  • Blackmail: When Stan wavers about sticking to the cover story, Ollie threatens to tell Stan's wife, Betty, that he smoked a cigarette at the convention.
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: The eponymous Sons of the Desert.
  • Catchphrase: As usual, we're treated to Ollie's "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!" and "Why don't you do something to help me?"
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Ollie upbraids Stan for being whipped.
    Ollie: Do you have to ask your wife everything?
    Stan: Well, if I didn't ask her I wouldn't know what she wanted me to do.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Charley, the annoying conventioneer that Stan and Ollie meet in Chicago, happens to be Lottie's long-lost brother.
  • Delayed "Oh, Crap!": Stan takes a few beats to realize the implications of the newspaper headline about the ship sinking.
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  • Diabolus ex Machina: Ollie's scheme would have worked, if the cruise ship hadn't sunk on the way back from Hawaii.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Particularly at the end of the film, between Oliver and his wife Lottie.
  • Duck Season, Rabbit Season: Ollie attempts this while arguing with Lottie, but she catches herself just in time.
    Ollie: I want this understood once and for all! I'm not going to the convention, I'm going to the mountains!
    Lottie: That's just what I said! That you're not going to the mountains, that you're going— that you're going to the mountains!
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Lottie has a habit of either cracking vases over Ollie's head or chucking them at his head from across the room.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Lottie, Ollie's wife.
  • Henpecked Husband: Both Laurel and Hardy.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Ollie criticizes Stan for letting his wife, Betty, boss him around. Then we meet Ollie's wife, Lottie...
  • Malaproper: Laurel, as usual.
    "Honesty is the best politics."
    "We floundered in a typhoid."
    • At one point, Lottie mangles a phrase:
    Lottie: (to Betty) They're both like two peas in a pot!
    Stan: Po-da.
    Lotta: SHUT UP!
  • Mathematician's Answer: Stan and Ollie wouldn't get back home until they came up with a cover story for an escapade. When interrogated by cops about their places of residence, Ollie claimed to live at home and Stan said he was Ollie's next door neighbor. Stan, being Stan, told a really useful answer later.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Lottie gives Ollie an off-screen one by throwing every dish in the house at him.
    Lottie: I'll show you, you son of a desert! Go to a convention, will ya?! Ha!
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Ollie asks Stan to get a doctor to help him fake a medical excuse. Stan calls a veterinarian.
    Stan: Well, I didn't think his religion would make any difference.
  • Off the Table: Implied; Ollie's wife, Lottie, originally wanted him to go to a retreat into the mountains instead of the convention. When Ollie's big lie is uncovered, he sheepishly suggests they take that trip into the mountains. Lottie doesn't verbally answer, but ends up hitting him with many dishes.
  • Oh, Crap!: Ollie has one when he sees the newspaper headline reporting the sinking of the ship they told their wives they were on.
  • The Prankster: Charley, a particularly obnoxious conventioneer who does stuff like the squirting flower gag and the cigarette-case-loaded-with-spring-snake gag.
  • Secret Test of Character: The wives see Stan and Ollie in a newsreel, thus realizing that they did not go to Honolulu. They then decide to see if their husbands confess. Eventually Stan does, and is pampered with cigarettes and candy by Betty. Ollie, who sticks to the cover story, takes a beating from Lottie.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: From a most unlikely source.
    Stan: I've certainly got to hand it to you.
    Ollie: For what?
    Stan: Well, for the meticulous care with which you have executed your finely-formulated machinations in extricating us from this devastating dilemma.
    Ollie: (stares into the camera)
    Stan: Then, on the other hand...
    Ollie: Get in bed. "Meticulous". Hmmph!
  • Your Television Hates You: Distraught over the notion that their husbands might have perished at sea, Lottie and Betty go to the cinema to distract themselves while they wait for the rescue ships with the survivors to arrive the next day. This fails, as the first thing that comes up at the feature is a newsreel of the Sons of the Desert convention, causing Betty to sob with guilt over not having let Oliver attend. After a few seconds, however, they spot two familiar faces in the convention crowd...


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