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The Music Box was the first programme on TV that I saw my daughter
really laugh at, aged 14 months in 1981, when the piano dragged Ollie
at speed down the steps yet again. Probably also the first thing I
laughed at too and at the moment the last in the latest of hundreds of
times! Well, Laurel & Hardy shaped my and millions of others' senses of
humour so I like to think hers was as well. Kids today who get the
chance to see this and who can't get past the pre-digital black & white
images to the gold that lies within are not only missing a treat but
are probably also making an crucial life-choice too. All of the human
condition is contained herein, therefore making it essential viewing
also for extra-terrestrials!
They have to deliver a piano to an address - all kinds of catastrophes follow thick and fast. The gags are so perfectly written and executed, and are as utterly relentless as Stan & Ollie's drive to deliver the piano come Hell or pond-water. High-class slapstick disasters follow each other every minute of the 27 (un-remastered version), usually happening to Ollie - although Billy Gilbert's cosy little love-nest was looking a little dishevelled by the climax! The steps have been a Los Angeles tourist attraction for many years now, maybe the most fitting monument to L & H that there could be - if you like this little film that is!
All in all and probably predictably my favourite L & H outing, notwithstanding the similar brilliance of Sons Of The Desert, County Hospital, Thicker than Water, Busybodies, Below Zero etc etc etc.
Put simply, this is the funniest movie of all time. I cannot believe that there is anyone in the world who can watch this film and not be in hysterics by the last scene. Laurel and Hardy provided the template for all (and I mean all) comedy films that followed, and this was their absolute best.
L&H are without doubt the best comedy double act of all time regardless of
media format. Its amazing that their best movies are now 70 years old and
yet remain timeless in their humour and inventiveness.
I've had the pleasure of seeing most of their movies - shorts & full format - and all of them have their own individual quirky qualities that other comedians still can't fathom.
The Music Box won them a well-deserved Oscar and although it is an excellently choreographed movie I personally don't think its their very best.
However, my opinion doesn't matter because any L&H fan will regard this movie as their favourite. The story is so simple yet so inventive and full of kinetic & emotive energy.
Stan & Ollie have to deliver a Piano to a highly strung guy who can't stand pianos. But just to make life a little interesting the guy's home just happens to be perched on a hill with the longest flight of steps in history to whit S&O have to push & pull their awkward delivery.
Some of the gags we've seen many times before but it doesn't matter because the added sparkle derives from the human emotions & expressions delivered with such panache from Stan & the long suffering Ollie - the way he looks-to-camera in a pleading kind of way just drives me wild with laughter & sympathy.
I can't find a single fault with this movie short, except that it just flies by so quickly. How I wish today's contemporary comedy writers could spend a few hours in a dark room watching how the masters of comedy produce such wonderful scripts. It proves that there is no need to have cheap & vulgar language, innuendo & explicit violence to make any audience, young or old, laugh with mirth.
The Golden Age of comedy is dead, long live the Golden Age; long live Laurel & Hardy!!!
This is one of the great classics of comedy, with Laurel & Hardy at their
very best. It has a wealth of good material, and also shows their ability
to extract every possible laugh from a relatively simple situation. It also
includes appearances by Billy Gilbert and Charlie Hall, two of their best
Stan and Ollie are delivering an old-fashioned player piano (or music box) to a house at the top of a hill. They encounter one difficulty after another getting it up to the top, and when they do, their troubles are just beginning. They use the situation to set up a lot of creative gags, all delivered with excellent timing.
There isn't any description that could really do justice to this hilarious short film - if you enjoy classic comedy, you will want to see "The Music Box" for yourself, so that you can enjoy two masters of comedy at their best.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Laurel & Hardy Transfer Company Foundered 1931 are to deliver a
piano which has been bought as a birthday gift by a wife for her
husband. All is going fine for the to until helpful postman Charlie
Hall (for once not in a role with a grudge against the boys) tell them,
that the house they are looking for is at the top of the stoop - in
other words on a big hill with lots of stairs between them and it!
After practically flattening Ollie taking the piano of their cart, they
proceed to take the piano up the stairs. Lots of straining later,
half-way up they encounter a nanny with a pram trying to pass. Being
the typical gentlemen, Ollie try's to assist the lady - leaving Stan
holding onto the piano. Stan (being Stan) joins to help - leaving the
piano to it's own devices which decides it would like to go down all
the stairs to the bottom. Stan being fed up with the nanny being in
hysterics at the pairs misfortune, he promptly kicks her "right in the
middle of her daily duties" as she later explains to a policemen. The
policemen encounters the two when they are back again half-way up the
stairs with the piano. Stan goes down (at Ollie's insistence) to see
what he wants - only to be told it's Ollie he wants to talk to (as he
believes Ollie kicked the nanny). After letting go of the piano it once
again finds it's way at the bottom - only this time with Ollie in tow.
Back to square one. Up they go again this time to meet a grand
gentlemen who wishes to pass. Ollie (very wisely) suggests he should
walk around. The man explodes and we learn that he is a Professor and
is too important to walk around. Anyone wearing a hat as large as his
had better say farewell to it as courtesy of the boys, it rolls all the
way down the stairs and under the wheels of a vehicle below. Stan &
Ollie finally get to the top but Ollie mistakes the steps to the pond
as the last few stairs to go. Splash! Ringing the doorbell Stan,
guarding the piano wanders away leaving it to trundle it's merry way
down all the stairs! When the boys finally get back up again the same
helpful postman informs them that they should have driven up a road
that would have led them to the top - instead of using the stairs. This
being Stan & Ollie they proceed to take the piano back down the stairs
again so they can come back up the "corret" way!
When they once again reach the top, and finding no-body home, Ollie suggest taking the piano through an open window on the top floor - not even checking to see if the front door is open. When they eventually get the piano into the house after a series of mishaps including Ollie and the piano falling into the pond, as well as confusion over who owns which hat - the when comes to open the case, which due to the fact it went for a paddle in the pond is full of water. Not a problem, as Stan very thoughtfully sponges the water with his handkerchief and wrings it out in Ollies hat. Some more mishaps follow in which the room is wrecked. To the music of the piano the duo have a little dance whilst clearing up the mess. The Professor, finds his home destroyed, a piano (a thing he loathes) and the same two who caused him grief previously in his house. In a rage he sets about destroying the piano - only for his wife to walk in who bought it as a birthday gift for him. The husband and wife make up and the Professor wishes to make amends with Stan & Ollie. All they want is for him to sign their delivery paper, but as they pass him a pen the ink squirts in the professor's face and the two scurry away with him in hot pursuit.
Very predictable. Very Laurel & Hardy. Very funny!!
The plot is so simple yet it is probably Laurel & Hardy's most memorable film. This shows their genius and their appeal more so than any other. It also shows them at the height of their wonderful career. It is a real mixture of laughing out loud, holding your hands over your eyes, sighing in exasperation or feeling you would like to knock their heads together. No matter how many time you see it you always feel the same. Their films give so much pleasure and you always walk away smiling.
Laurel & Hardy! Just the names alone brings to my mind the most talented comedy duo ever, bar none! And this, "The Music Box" is probably the finest of their work, though there are others that are very close! Too many to mention in fact.I've spent the last month or two having a Laurel and Hardy film season, and I watched around 35 of their films, and naturally I laughed many many times....theres nothing better to cheer you up. "The Music Box" itself stands out-it was the film that won them an oscar, wonderfully written, and marvellously filmed! Those steps would put most people off just to climb them on their own, but with a piano!!!Classic! If you haven't seen this movie, and there can't be many who haven't, see it as soon as you can, and when you want a good old fashioned laugh! 9.5/10
Laurel and Hardy (or Dick und Doof as they were affectionately called in Germany) gave us many unforgettable films. As a rule the simpler the story the better. This short film is a master piece. There is not one scene in it that is not hilarious. And it is also quite deep when you think about. Even those of us who have never heard of Sisyphus will know the essence of the thing after watching this delightful little film.
Question: why oh why aren't Laurel and Hardy films shown on TV at sensible
times any more here in the UK? When I was a lad, they were on at 6pm on
BBC2 and I spent many happy evenings as a child laughing my head off at
their comedy short films. Now, you're lucky to catch them on TV at all, and
they always seem to be scheduled at some unearthly hour of the
Anyway, scheduling rant over. If you're a Laurel and Hardy virgin, this is a great place to start. It won them an Oscar, and it's a hilarious piece of perfectly constructed comedy. They are bungling delivery men who have to deliver a piano to a house at the top of an enormous flight of steps. (The location does exist in real life, apparently, and it's one of my aims in life one day to visit those steps and walk up 'em!) Needless to say, the piano seems to spend more time sliding back down the steps than it does going up them.
It's almost certainly their best short, and is required viewing for anyone wanting to know why Laurel and Hardy are one of the greats of movie comedy.
A LAUREL & HARDY Comedy Short.
Stan & Ollie are hired to deliver a piano - to a home at the top of a monumental series of steps. During this task of Sisyphus, they encounter every kind of hindrance, from a savage nursery maid to outright police brutality - which is only prologue to the chaos that awaits them when they get THE MUSIC BOX to the top...
This little classic is generally regarded as the Boys' best film, and, indeed, it won the 1932 Oscar for Best Short Subject, their only Academy Award. This is slapstick of a very high level, that born of the utmost frustration, and they make it all look so easy. If only one of their films could be saved for posterity, to show future generations what Laurel & Hardy were all about, this would be it.
Highlight (besides the stairs): the Boys' little dance to `The Arkansas Traveler'. That's Charlie Hall as the postman & the one and only Billy Gilbert as the apoplectic Professor Schwarzenhoffen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although I love 'The Music Box' and I feel that it should be considered
an all time classic, I have to say that I saw the Three Stooges use
these same steps in 'An Ache In Every Stake' before I ever saw 'The
Music Box'. I recognized those steps as being the same ones that Curly
climbed on a hot day while delivering melting ice. You see, when I grew
up the Three Stooges were on TV every day, Laurel and Hardy would
appear only occasionally, maybe on a Sunday. It doesn't take away from
what Laurel and Hardy did, because what they did was timeless,
absolutely perfect. You can still like both versions, but it's better
to know from the source, that is if you're able to.
That said, I think this short film is one of Laurel and Hardy's best, not because it's so funny, which it is, but because of the lasting images it provides, especially that of the long steps (that still exist today) and the many mishaps in the water fountain outside of the house.
This short film is a great place to start if you've never seen a Laurel and Hardy film, but then again, there isn't a bad place to start either.
One of the less celebrated scenes in this film, probably because it is more charming than funny, is the dancing scene inside the house. Once Stan and Ollie get the piano situated inside the house, the two switch the player piano on and proceed with a little soft shoe routine. There's something about the give and take between the two performers that exceeds their business partnership as funny men, they actually seem to like one another as people, if not just their partnership. I think it's this quality that separates Laurel and Hardy from other comedy duos such as Abbott & Costello or Martin & Lewis. It's also probably the main reason you're bound to have a smile on your face after seeing any Laurel and Hardy film. They had a unique chemistry away from the laughs.
You could say that with the amount of steps they had to climb that they had to go a long way to get laughs, but you must know by now, the trip in getting there is what makes it entirely worth it.
10/10. Clark Richards
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