Stan Laurel

Sons of the Desert Laurel and Hardy

Sons of the Desert (1933)

Stanley and Oliver (Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy) are both loyal members of The Sons of the Desert. Not long before the Sons of the Desert are to have their big annual convention in Chicago, they both take an oath to attend the convention, even though Stan doesn’t think his wife will let him go. Oliver gives Stan a big lecture about how to have the upper hand with his wife, just like he does with his wife Lottie (Mae Busch). But it turns out that Oliver is the one who has to worry about getting permission from his wife — she’d already planned a weekend trip to the mountains for the same weekend as the convention and she’s not about to miss her trip.

Determined to make it to the convention, Stan and Oliver come up with a crazy scheme involving Oliver pretending to be sick while a “doctor” prescribes a trip to Honolulu to cure him. Their wives buy the rouse, but instead of going to Honolulu, they head to Chicago and have a fantastic time at the convention. But just as they’re about to head home, the boat from Honolulu they’re supposed to be on sinks after being caught in a storm. They have no idea what’s happened until they get home while their wives are out trying to get information about the survivors and see the newspaper.

Not knowing what else to do, Stan and Oliver hide in the attic to avoid their wives. But when their wives go out to a movie, they see a newsreel covering the big convention and who else do they see but Stan and Oliver? Now the wives are on a mission to see which of their husbands is the most honest.

Oh, what a delight Sons of the Desert is! This is just good, pure, classic slapstick comedy. Laurel and Hardy are both at the absolute top of their game, delivering joke after joke with absolute perfection. Their comedic timing was impeccable. Not only do you have Laurel and Hardy bringing their “A” game, there’s Mae Busch as Oliver’s wife, who is anything but second fiddle. She had the sass and strong screen presence to not be overshadowed by Laurel and Hardy’s antics. Also not to be overlooked is Charley Chase in a brief appearance as a fellow Son of the Desert who turns out to be Lottie’s brother and nearly reveals where they really are. Reportedly, Chase didn’t enjoy playing that character, but I really got a kick out of him. Slapstick isn’t always my thing, but I love Sons of the Desert.

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DVD Review: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) Blu-Ray

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1920 Kino Blu-Ray CoverWhen it comes to silent horror films, John Barrymore’s performance in 1920’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of the best of the genre; it easily ranks up there with Max Schreck’s in Nosferatu and Lon Chaney’s in The Phantom of the Opera.  The story of Dr. Jekyll has been adapted for film, television, radio, and the stage numerous times in the 94 years since this version was released.  But it’s John Barrymore’s masterful performance that makes this version remain one of the absolute best versions you will ever see.

On January 28th, Kino Lorber will be giving Barrymore’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde the royal treatment it deserves with a new Blu-Ray/DVD release.  Kino has long been one of my favorite companies for DVDs.  In terms of picture quality and bonus features, Kino has always delivered.  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is my first time checking out one of Kino’s Blu-Ray releases and I am thrilled with it.  The picture quality is, for the most part, excellent.  There are a few scenes that aren’t as clear as the rest of the film, but they don’t significantly detract from the movie’s overall quality.  The quality of a Blu-Ray/DVD release can only be as good as the source material available and fortunately, Kino had 35mm elements in great condition to work with and they are presented here in beautiful 1080p.  This new Blu-Ray/DVD release also features a wonderful score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and includes five minutes of footage that had been missing from Kino’s previous DVD release of Dr. Jekyll.

The new Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Blu-Ray/DVD also includes a 12-minute version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from 1912, a 15-minute excerpt from a rival production of Dr. Jekyll also released in 1920, a rare audio recording from 1909 titled “The Transformation Scene,” and 1925’s Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride starring Stan Laurel. (Fun fact: Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride was written by Tay Garnett, who went on to direct 1932’s One Way Passage, 1935’s China Seas, and 1946’s The Postman Always Rings Twice.)   Dr. Pyckle and the 1912 version of Dr. Jekyll both look quite good, but the excerpt from the rival 1920 production doesn’t look as sharp.

Disclosure: I received a review copy from Kino Lorber.