Tuesday, December 10, 2013


The Golden Age of Comedy (Post 4 of 12)

Sons of the Desert

Sometime during the 70's, I received a present of a book called Laurel and Hardy by John McCabe and Al Kilgore. It has pictures of the scenes and breakdowns of the plots of all the movies that the comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made together. This coincided with the local channel 46 showing the Laurel and Hardy features and shorts just about every night. At least the talkies.

I first saw some of L & H's silent footage in some of the Robert Youngson film compilations I mentioned in an earlier post this month.

Laurel and Hardy, unlike many comedy teams, didn't have a straight man. You had dopey, skinny Englishman Stan and the constantly put upon, fat Southern gentleman Ollie. After they were first teamed in 1926, they made silent shorts until the advent of sound pictures. When they began making talkies at the Hal Roach studio, the team got even better. Almost all their best shorts and feature films were made during the thirties for Roach. And I'm glad to see an L and H movie listed in the 1001 movie book. The plot of Sons of the Desert involves Stan and Ollie as henpecked husbands (a common theme in their movies) and their desire to go to the Sons of the Desert lodge convention in Chicago. Of course, you know the wives are going to find out and this is where the main thrust of the comedy comes from. It also has a funny cameo by Hal Roach regular Charley Chase as a conventioneer.

I think they could have chosen some other L and H features like Pardon Us, Way Out West or Blockheads, but Sons of the Desert is a pretty good choice if you are going to narrow it down to one. In fact, Sons of the Desert has been the name of the Laurel and Hardy fan club for years.

But I would add that in order to be a complete historical moviegoer, you need to watch a couple of their talkie shorts. The Music Box, Another Fine Mess or Big Business are good places to start.

And don't forget to check out a couple of their silents as well.

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