The Music Box

The Music Box

Infobox Film
name = The Music Box

caption = Lobby card to "Music Box" (1932)
director = James Parrott
producer = Hal Roach
writer = H.M. Walker
starring = Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
music = Harry Graham
Marvin Hatley
Leroy Shield
cinematography = Len Powers
Walter Lundin
editing = Richard C. Currier
distributor = Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
released = April 16, 1932
runtime = 30 minutes.
language = English
country = USA
budget =
preceded_by = "Any Old Port!"
followed_by = "The Chimp"
imdb_id = 0023251

"The Music Box" is a Laurel and Hardy short film comedy released in 1932. It was directed by James Parrott, produced by Hal Roach and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film won the first Academy Award for Live Action Short Film (Comedy) in 1932. It has been considered "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.


Mrs. von Schwarzenhoffen has bought a player piano as a surprise birthday present for her husband Professor Theodore von Schwarzenhoffen. Stan and Ollie have started a "transfer co." and must deliver it. As they near the address in their horse and cart they ask a postman for directions. He tells them that it is at the top of the 'stoop', up a preposterously tall flight of stairs.

Stan and Ollie unload the piano from their cart, but their horse ("Susie") takes a malicious step, dumping the piano right onto Ollie's back. Carrying it across the street, they start to carry the piano up the stairs. A quarter of the way up a nursemaid with a baby carriage asks to pass by. They let go of the piano and it careens to the bottom of the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs the nursemaid begins to laugh at the duo and says "of all the dumb things." Stan kicks her backside, so she punches him. Ollie laughs, and she breaks a bottle on his head. The woman goes off to complain to a police officer telling him that Stan kicked her "right in the middle of my daily duties." The police officer arrives as they are halfway up the stairs with the piano. Ollies sends Stan to the bottom of the stairs to talk to the officer, but he wants to speak to Ollie. Stan calls him down, and the piano chases Ollie back to the bottom of the stairs once again. The police officer kicks Ollie in the backside and hits Stan on the head with his truncheon to teach the boys a lesson.

Halfway up the stairs again, they meet Professor von Schwarzenhoffen who asks to pass. When told to go around, he becomes outraged: "What, walk "around?! Me", Professor Theodore Von Schwarzenhoffen, M.D., A.D., D.D.S., F.L.D., "F-F-F- and F, should walk around?!!" He tries to shove the piano out of his path by force, and Stan retaliates by knocking off his hat, which bounds all the way down the stairs into the street and is immediately flattened by a truck. The Professor storms off after his hat in a rage, shouting threats. With a new set of "Heave! Ho!"s, the boys arrive at the delivery address with the piano (after Ollie, not realizing they've reached the top, continues climbing stairs until he trips into an ornamental fountain), only to let the piano go once again. Ollie hangs on and is dragged to the bottom of the stairs. They carry the piano up the stairs once again, just in time to meet the postman again at the top, who tells them that they could have driven the piano around to the house and needn't have carried it up the stairs at all. Realizing this, the two protagonists take the piano back downstairs one last time, so that they can take the route the postman suggested.

Ollie realizes he's about to be crushed by the piano as they take it off the cart, so he unhooks Susie. They wheel it to the front door and ring the doorbell but nobody is home. They decide to lift the piano into the house through an open upstairs window. The pair create a colossal mess and destroy most of the fabric of the house's interior getting the piano down the stairs and into the living room; they then unpack the piano (flooding the room in the process, since the box had filled up with water after accidentally being dropped in the ornamental pool Ollie had earlier stepped in), and set it playing a medley of "Patriotic Songs" (which inexplicably includes the "The Arkansas Traveler"), to which the boys perform an impromptu dance while they begin to tidy up, whereupon the professor arrives home. Furious at seeing the deliverymen again, and in his house without permission, he flies into a rage, proclaims his hatred for pianos, and takes an axe to it. The piano starts to play the Star Spangled Banner and they all stand to attention. The professor turns the piano off and takes the axe to it once more. The professor's wife arrives home and he tells her that "these idiots delivered this piano by mistake". She tells him it's his birthday present, so he decides he likes pianos and in fact he's "nuts" about them. He asks Stan and Ollie what he can do for them. They ask him to sign the delivery note and hand him the note and a fountain pen. The pen squirts ink into his face, and he then chases Stan and Ollie out of the house.


*Stan Laurel as Stan Laurel
*Oliver Hardy as Oliver Hardy
*Billy Gilbert as Professor Theodore Von Schwarzenhoffen, M.D., A.D., D.D.S., F.L.D., F.F.F "and" F.
*Charlie Hall as Postman
*Lilyan Irene as Nursemaid
*Sam Lufkin as Police Officer
*William Gillespie as Piano Salesman
*Hazel Howell as Mrs. von Schwarzenhoffen


The steps which served as the location are still in existence in Los Angeles, California. The "Music Box" steps are a public staircase, and do not lead to a single residence (as in the film), but instead connect Vendome Street (at the base of the hill) with Descanso Drive (at the top of the hill). They are located near the neighborhood where Sunset Boulevard and Silver Lake Boulevard intersect. The address is 923-935 Vendome Street near the intersection of Del Monte Street. A plaque was set into one of the lower steps between 1993 and 1995. ( [,-118.27524&z=17&t=h&hl=en|A Google Maps link to the location.] )

The "Music Box" steps can be seen in the background of an earlier Charley Chase silent comedy produced at the Hal Roach Studios, "Isn't Life Terrible?" (1925), during a scene in which Chase is trying to sell fountain pens to Fay Wray.

The staircase used in the 1941 Three Stooges film, "An Ache in Every Stake", while resembling the one in "The Music Box" and used to similar comic effect, was at a different location.

San Francisco is known for its hills, but Los Angeles has a few formidable hills of its own which have figured in comedy films. In addition to the two described above, the apparent "skyscraper" in the famous Harold Lloyd picture "Safety Last!" was filmed on a structure that was located on a steeply sloping street near downtown, which made Lloyd's stunts look much more dangerous than they were.

Film remakes

The film is a partial remake of their 1927 silent short "Hats Off", which was filmed at the same location and is today considered a lost film. "Hats Off" was itself remade in the same location in a film called "It's Your Move" starring Edgar Kennedy in 1945.

Director Blake Edwards planned his 1986 film "A Fine Mess" as a semi-improvised remake of the film, but eventually turned out as a chase comedy with the piano-moving sequence removed.

Hal Roach Studios colorized "The Music Box" in 1986 with a remastered stereo soundtrack featuring recordings of the Hal Roach Studios stock incidental music score conducted by Ronnie Hazelhurst. The film was later released on videocassette as part of a double bill release with the colorized version of the 1932 Laurel & Hardy short "Helpmates".

In popular culture

A series of TV ads for a windshield wiper company featured actors who looked much like Laurel and Hardy. One of the ads referred to this film by portraying them trying to safely deliver a piano.Fact|date=March 2007

See also

*Laurel and Hardy films
*Laurel and Hardy
*1932 in film

External links

* [ The Music Box] at Internet Movie Database

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