AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Sons of the Desert
Director: William A. Seiter (Dir)
Release Date:   29 Dec 1933
Production Date:   completed 23 Oct 1933
Duration (in mins):   65 or 68
Duration (in feet):   5,955
Duration (in reels):   7
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Cast:   Stan Laurel (Stan Laurel)  
    Oliver Hardy (Oliver Hardy)  
    Charley Chase (Charley)  
    Mae Busch (Lottie Hardy)  
    Dorothy Christy (Betty Laurel)  
    Lucien Littlefield (Dr. Horace Meddick)  
    Charita (Lead hula dancer)  

Summary: In Los Angeles, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy arrive late at their Sons of the Desert lodge meeting, but join with the others in taking an oath to attend the national convention in Chicago the next week. Stan is afraid that his wife Betty will not allow him to go, so on the way home, Ollie advises him to tell her that he is going rather than ask her permission, as Ollie intends to do with his wife Lottie. Once home, however, Lottie forbids Ollie to go, and when he protests, she throws a couple of vases at him. A few days later, Ollie pretends to be horribly ill, and Stan brings in Dr. Horace Meddick, a veterinarian whom the boys have bribed to tell Lottie that Ollie must go on an ocean voyage to Honolulu in order to recover. Lottie detests the ocean, and so Stan volunteers to accompany Ollie on their "ocean voyage," which is actually a trip to the convention. At the convention, the boys are having a swell time with a practical joker named Charley, who tells them that he has a sister in Los Angeles. As a gag Charley calls his sister and has her speak to Ollie, who realizes that the sister is none other than his wife Lottie, and Charley is therefore his long-lost brother-in-law. In Los Angeles the next day, Lottie and Betty discover that the ocean liner their husbands are supposedly on has sunk, and that the survivors are due to arrive in thirty-six hours. While the girls are at the liner's office trying to find out the names of the survivors, Stan and Ollie arrive home. They see the newspaper headlines about the ship sinking and panic when they hear the girls returning. They run up to the attic and decide to stay there until the next morning when the girls go out and they can climb down. Unknown to the boys, however, Lottie and Betty go to the movies to distract themselves, and while there they see a newsreel of the convention parade, prominently featuring Stan and Ollie. A terrible storm rages as the girls return home and argue about which of their husbands will confess the truth. Up in the attic, lightning strikes the bedsprings the boys are sleeping on, and when the girls hear their anguished cries, Betty gets her gun. When Stan and Ollie hear the girls coming into the attic, they climb on to the roof in the pouring rain. After they slide down the drain pipe, a passing policeman catches them and takes them to Ollie's house to verify that he lives there. Betty and Lottie agree to hear their stories, and Ollie begins a wild tale about being on the sinking ocean liner and "ship-hiking" their way back to land. Betty asks Stan if he and Ollie are telling the truth, and poor Stan, unable to stand the strain of lying, confesses all. Betty takes Stan home, and while she pampers him for being honest, Lottie pelts Ollie with crockery for lying. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's, Inc.)
  Hal Roach Studios, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.  
Director: William A. Seiter (Dir)
  Lloyd French (Assoc dir)
Producer: Hal Roach (Pres)
  Hal Roach (Prod)
Writer: Frank Craven (Story)
  Byron Morgan (Cont)
Photography: Kenneth Peach (Photog)
Film Editor: Bert Jordan (Film ed)
Sound: Harry Baker (Rec eng)
Dance: Dave Bennett (Dance dir)
Country: United States

Songs: "Honolulu Baby," words and music by Marvin Hatley.
Composer: Marvin Hatley

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. 27/12/1933 dd/mm/yyyy LP4380 Yes

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

Genre: Comedy
Subjects (Major): Bumblers
  Conventions (Gatherings)
  Henpecked husbands
Subjects (Minor): Brothers-in-law
  Chicago (IL)
  Long-lost relatives
  Los Angeles (CA)
  Ocean liners
  Practical jokes

Note: The Var review commented on the similarity between this film and We Faw Down , a 1928 two reel Hal Roach short starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. According to the film's pressbook and a HR news item, extras in the picture included members of the drill team of the Glendale post of the American Legion, the Hollywood American Legion and the Santa Monica branch of the Elks Lodge. FD news items noted that Laurel and Hardy took time off from Sons of the Desert in order to film their sequences in M-G-M's Hollywood Party (see above) and that Glenn Tryon was to assist Frank Craven with writing the story of this picture. Although Tryon is also listed by modern sources as working on the script, his contribution to the completed film has not been confirmed.
       Modern sources add the following information about the production: the film's working title was Fraternally Yours ; Patsy Kelly was originally cast in the role of "Betty Laurel"; and the vocalist on "Honolulu Baby" was Ty Parvis. Also according to modern sources, Frank Terry wrote additional dialogue for the film as well as the Sons of the Desert's anthem. The same anthem is used by the international Laurel and Hardy fan club, which takes its name from this picture. The current Sons of the Desert club was founded in the 1960s by Orson Bean, Al Kilgore, John McCabe, Chuck McCann and John Municino, with the approval of Laurel.
       Modern sources include the following actors in the cast: John Elliot ( Exalted exhausted ruler ); Charley Young, John Merton, William Gillespie, Charles McAvoy, Robert Burns, Al Thompson, Eddie Baker, Jimmy Aubrey, Chet Brandenburg and Don Brodie ( Sons of the Desert coterie ); Philo McCullough ( Assistant exhausted ruler ); Harry Bernard ( Bartender, also a police officer ); Charlie Hall, Ernie Alexander and Sam Lufkin ( Waiters ); Baldwin Cooke ( Man who introduces steamship official, also an extra at the Sons's convention ); Stanley Blystone and Max Wagner ( Brawny speakeasy managers ); Pat Harmon ( Doorman ); Robert Cummings ( Extra during steamship radiogram scene ); and Billy Gilbert ( Voice-over as Mr. Rutledge, steamship official ). Modern sources also list the following actors whose parts were cut from the final release print, and whose roles are unknown: Nena Quartaro, Lillian Moore and Brooks Benedict. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   20-Jan-34   
Daily Variety   10 Nov 33   p. 3.
Film Daily   5 Sep 33   p. 4.
Film Daily   23 Sep 33   p. 10.
Film Daily   6 Jan 34   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Oct 33   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Oct 33   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Nov 33   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Nov 33   p. 3.
Los Angeles Times   7-Oct-33   
Motion Picture Herald   20 Jan 34   p. 58.
New York Times   12 Jan 34   p. 29.
Variety   9 Jan 34   p. 16.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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