Sons of the Desert
- William A. Seiter
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Thursday, November 10, 2005
…with reason! The movie shows the pair at the top of their game in a perfect contrast of personalities despite a constant feel of latent friendship – a key to their success. I found it amazing how their accents and cultural roots also play an important role in their team. This paragraph belongs in a biography rather than a film review, but anyhow, since the story relies so much in the interaction caused by all this, I don’t think it’s out of place.
The story presents the friends and neighbors in a session of the Sons of the Desert lodge, where the members are summoned to a convention and compelled to take a vow that they will attend – a vow that hasn’t been broken for generations. Terrified (and hiding it), Oliver prepares to face his wife, secretly knowing she’ll say no but bragging about how he controls her. Stanley is not as shy at first in admitting he’s not quite the king of his castle, but when he finds the opportunity to humiliate his friend, he grabs it – to awful consequences. The wives, Oliver’s (Mae Busch) and Stanley’s (Dorothy Christy), sure control their husbands, but they are quite different in their approach: Oliver’s is more violent and Stanley’s is more compassionate. Giving in, Stan asks for permission and gets it, but Oliver is prouder and more stubborn. To get his way, he pretends to be sick and pays off a doctor to prescribe a trip to Hawaii, which will save him from going to the mountains with his wife and allow him to go to the convention. Stan plays along, pretending he’s going to Hawaii with his friend, and hilarity ensues.
But a twist happens at the convention, where an intensely prankster conventioneer (the great Charley Chase – first time I’ve seen him in action!) befriends the boys and turns out to have an unexpected relation to them, which is just the beginning of trouble.
What a funny film! It’s perfect. The comedy of these guys is unmatchable in every way: pantomime, dialogue, delivery, timing, etc. The story is a perfect excuse for hilarity and the casting of the wives is heaven-sent, especially Busch’s as the bad-tempered wife (probably the funniest supporting character – a close race with Chase). I love how scene by scene there’s a reason for the boys to prove their comedy but it never turns tiresome because the story’s constantly flowing. When all is said and done, everything is over much too soon and the audience is left wanting… which is just ideal.
Every comedy bit is a classic, but my favorite is the one where Ollie acts sick, how I laughed! Laughter kept coming from then on though, and I’m so eager to watch it again!
Oliver: “Why did you get a veterinarian?”
Stan: “I didn’t think his religion would make any difference.”
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