Trivia & Fun Facts About THE MUSIC BOX and SONS OF THE DESERT
Laurel told biographer John McCabe he thought The Music Box was the best film the duo ever made.
The town of Harlem, Georgia, has a Laurel and Hardy museum and a number of markers and signs announcing it as the birthplace of Oliver Hardy. The town is the site for the annual Oliver Hardy Festival on the first Saturday in October.
Sons of the Desert was released in Europe as Fraternally Yours and Sons of the Legion. It was drastically cut for TV syndication into a 20-minute version called Fun on the Run.
Sons of the Desert was carefully marketed by the MGM publicity department as "a very funny burlesque of an imaginary fraternal order. There is nothing mean or spiteful in it and nothing to which any intelligent group of officers of local lodges in your town can take exception."
In 1971 the San Diego Tent of the Sons of the Desert organization located the house on Clarington Avenue in Los Angeles that is visible in shots from Sons of the Desert in which characters are seen getting in and out of cars.
Writers have remarked on the extent of water motifs in Sons of the Desert: the rainy night and the rain barrel the boys fall in, Ollie's foot soak (which ends up soaking Ollie AND his wife), the ocean liner sunk by a typhoon.
The MGM publicity department created a poem about Sons of the Desert for suggested use in newspaper ads.
The marketing campaign for Sons of the Desert made a voluminous amount of materials available to exhibitors, not only posters (some with illustrations by famed show business caricaturist Al Hirschfeld) and banners for inside and outside of the theater but also fez hats, satin sashes, and Laurel and Hardy masks. The promotional items that have survived draw thousands of dollars from collectors.
Sons of the Desert co-star Charley Chase (1893-1940) was a comedy star in his own right. After a brief career in vaudeville, he moved to supporting parts in films starring Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, and others. He joined the Hal Roach Studios as a director until Roach realized what a great comic performer he had on his roster. Between 1924 and 1929 he starred in nearly 200 two-reelers, most of them directed by Leo McCarey, who would later become famous for such acclaimed comedies as Duck Soup (1933) and The Awful Truth (1937). He continued to appear in shorts in the sound era, and directed some of the earliest Three Stooges movies. His death of a heart attack at the age of 46 has been attributed to his alcoholism.
Charley Chase's younger brother, Jimmy Parrott, was also a comedy actor, gag writer and director. He directed The Music Box and at least 20 other Laurel and Hardy pictures, as well as close to three dozen featuring his brother. Parrott was a drug addict and, like Chase, died of a heart attack at the age 40 in 1939.
Charley Chase and Mae Busch, who plays his sister in Sons of the Desert, appeared in several Keystone comedies for Mack Sennett in the early days of silents.
Sons of the Desert screenwriter Frank Craven is best known for appearing as the pipe-smoking Stage Manager narrator in Thornton Wilder's Our Town, both on stage and on screen. He also co-authored (with Wilder) the 1940 film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
Sons of the Desert director William Seiter worked with Laurel and Hardy just this one time. He worked on the picture on loan from RKO and didn't return to Hal Roach Studios until 1943 (to direct the John Wayne-Jean Arthur movie A Lady Takes a Chance), after Laurel and Hardy had left the company. His best-known films include the Astaire-Rogers musical Roberta (1935), the Marx Brothers' Room Service (1938), and the romantic comedy-fantasy One Touch of Venus (1948). Ginger Rogers, whom Seiter directed in five pictures, had high praise for him, writing in her autobiography: "Bill Seiter was a super guy, with a charming, adorable, witty and engaging attitude towards his actors. ... Some directors play out their problems with their cast; others, like Bill, put personal issues aside and are charming and encouraging." Seiter's final directing assignment was for Roach on the Gale Storm television series The Gale Storm Show/Oh, Susanna in the late 1950s. He died in 1964 at 72.
Stan Laurel's split from his then wife Lois caused a complicated salary arrangement during shooting and distribution of Sons of the Desert. Everything he earned had to be paid into the California Trust Company; it was then divided in half to give his ex an equal share.
Shortly before production began, Stan Laurel's marital and personal difficulties led to doubts about his continuing to work in America, which would have left his partner hanging. Roach proposed teaming Hardy with comic actress Patsy Kelly in a new series called "The Hardy Family," in which the two would be the parents of Our Gang's Spanky McFarland. Roach himself wrote the script, but Laurel stuck with the team and the alternative project never came to be. A few years later MGM launched a different Hardy Family series in which Mickey Rooney, as young son Andy, became a major star and a Top 10 box office attraction.
Dorothy Christy, who played the gun-toting Mrs. Laurel in Sons of the Desert, appropriately enough appeared in a number of Westerns. She also appeared in films with Will Rogers, Maurice Chevalier, Buster Keaton, William Powell, and Shirley Temple. She worked at the Roach Studios again in a small role as a nurse in Topper (1937).
In 1993, new prints of reels one and two of The Music Box were struck from the original camera negative. Sometime in the previous 10 years, however, the negative for reel three was lost, so the new print for that reel was made from the work print,_ meaning it will never match the high quality of the first two reels.
Frequent L&H co-star Billy Gilbert, who was the professor in The Music Box and provided a voiceover in Sons of the Desert, was a former vaudeville performer who had developed a long, drawn-out, explosive sneezing routine which became his comic trademark. He thus became the model for, and voice of, the character Sneezy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).
Memorable Quotes from THE MUSIC BOX
POLICEMAN (Sam Lufkin): He kicked you?
NURSEMAID (Lilyan Irene): Yes, officer, right in the middle of my daily duties.
STAN: Don't you think you're bounding over your step?
Memorable Quotes from SONS OF THE DESERT
STAN: The Exhausted Ruler said that if you took an oath it would have to be broken for generations of centuries of hundreds of years.
OLLIE: Do you have to ask your wife everything?
STAN: Well, if I didn't ask her, I wouldn't know what she wanted me to do.
OLLIE: Why did you get a veterinarian?
STAN: I didn't think his religion would make any difference.
MRS. HARDY (Mae Busch): I haven't seen you since you sang in the choir.
CHARLEY CHASE (Himself): And you pumped the organ, you little organ pumper!
STAN: I've certainly got to hand it to you...for the meticulous care with which you have executed your finely formulated machinations in extricating us from this devastating dilemma.
OLLIE: Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into.
STAN: That's our story, and we're stuck with it...in it.
Compiled by Rob Nixon