Sons of the Desert (William A. Seiter / U.S., 1933):

"Ah, husbands," as Cassavetes would say. Domesticity is a wax apple with a bite out of it, the dubious oasis is a fraternity presided over by the stentorian Exalted Exhausted Ruler, in wander Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in fez and sash. Their neighboring apartments are mysteriously connected, just the nest for a pair of conjoined castrati. To ask the wife permission to go to the convention is "such a deplorable condition" that Stan bawls in advance: "Well, if I didn't ask her, I wouldn't know what she wanted me to do." Mrs. Hardy (Mae Busch) polishes a kitchen knife, the better to poke the macho balloon in her living room; Mrs. Laurel (Dorothy Christy) enters with shotgun in hand in a gag surely enjoyed by Truffaut (La Peau Douce). A chummy ruse, the "nervous shakedown" diagnosed by the veterinarian, a holiday in the attic. "The meticulous care with which you have executed your finely formulated machinations in extricating us from this devastating dilemma." "'Meticulous.' Hmph." The expansion of We Fall Down is also a trove of sitcom tropes for decades to come, McCarey discoveries taken up by William A. Seiter in a beautiful construction. Charley Chase as a hearty conventionee welcomes the boys with a paddle to the ass, and prompts such sublimities as Hardy's look into the camera after getting doused by a squirting flower and Laurel's delayed reaction to the coil-snake in the cigarette case. "Just wait till you get home, you inflated tadpole!" Turns out honesty is the best policy for the sneaking spouses under a downpour on the rooftop, a ticklish crucible for Lumet's Bye Bye Braverman and Ritchie's Smile and innumerable others. In black and white.

--- Fernando F. Croce

Back to Reviews
Back Home