Sons of the Desert (1933)

Produced by Hal Roach
Directed by William A. Seiter

Featuring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charley Chase, Mae Busch, Dorothy Christy/Christie


At a mysterious, dimly-lit, special Oasis #13 meeting of their social fraternity, the Sons of the Desert, fez-topped Stan and Ollie arrive late but in time to pledge representation of their lodge with faithful attendance at the annual convention in Chicago, next week. In the taxi-ride home afterwards, Stan confesses he was uneasy about taking the solemn not-to-be-broken oath; he fears his wife might not let him go. Ollie sighs and says condescendingly, "Do you have to ask your wife everything?" Stan explains, "Well, if I didn't ask her, I wouldn't know what she wanted me to do." But every man should be the king in his own castle, is Ollie's determined philosophy. "Why don't you pattern your life after mine?" he lectures in a superior tone.


Mr. Hardy's alleged household dominance, however, is soon revealed to be only wishful thinking. It seems Mrs. Hardy actually gives all the orders around Ollie's castle -- a duplex -- and her plan for next week calls for a lovely trip to the mountains.
Next door, at the adjoining residence of "Mrs. and Mr. Stanley Laurel" (or as Ollie calls it, "Betty's house") Stan's soft-spoken custodian issues plenty of ruling commands too -- when she's not out duck hunting. In order to fool the wives and attend their forbidden, mystic convention, Ollie plots with Stan (and us, through collusive camera looks) to feign illness. For this scheme, the delegates arrange for a doctor (actually Stan conspires with a veterinarian) to prescribe a Honolulu vacation -- without their wives -- to quiet Ollie's nerves. A sure cure. Nothing else will do. Instead of this ocean voyage, the playboys leave dull care behind, sneak off to have a high old, swell and disorderly time in Chicago, where Ollie boasts in self congratulation, "and nobody is any the wiser." But with news that the ocean-liner they've supposedly taken has been wrecked, and sunk, their grief-stricken wives await rescue reports, and seek refuge in a movie theater. There, during this diversion, they discover the deception. On comes a shocking newsreel showing the Chicago convention, and their husbands, whooping it up and parading foolishly for the camera, very much alive and well. Meanwhile, at that instant, Stan and Ollie are arriving back home, joyously bedecked with pineapples, Hawaiian souvenirs and singing HONOLULU BABY to continue fooling their wives, who aren't there. Not knowing the wives are wise, Stan and Ollie kill time reading the newspaper. Displaying new depths of incomprehension, Stan glosses past the front page to peruse "Notes From The Clubs." Ollie doesn't miss the headline conveying news of the disaster at sea. The implications are clear, at least to him. At the same time they see their wives outside leaving a cab. Panic rises. Up to the attic in desperation, and then onto the roof they go, during a rain storm. A policeman intercepts their getaway and forces a family reunion. Calmly confronted by their wives, who seek to settle a dispute over which husband will be truthful, the two lodge brothers, dressed in their "jammies," explain how they "floundered in a typhoid" during the supposed sea voyage, and "ship-hiked" home. This wildly-decorated alibi dissolves when sad-faced Stan breaks down in meek submission and tearfully confesses the truth, as Ollie, for all his effort to deceive, can now only stare straight into the camera, sickened. As Stan is led next door by his gun-toting wife, Ollie snaps to. He cheerfully acknowledges being exposed with a tip of his derby, then ignoring his predicament suggests baby-faced to his steely-eyed, grim missus, "How about you and me goin' to the mountains?" Next door as Mrs. Laurel pampers and royally rewards her mate with drinks, chocolates and cigarettes, the merciless Mrs. Hardy furiously empties the cupboards for piles of kitchen crockery to hurl with her usual unerring accuracy and crown poor Ollie king of his castle.