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Lh the music box
Lh the music box poster

The Music Box is a Laurel & Hardy sound short film released 16 April 1932.

Summary

In a music store, Mrs. Theodore von Schwartzenhoffen orders a player piano as a surprise birthday gift for her husband, Professor Theodore von Schwartzenhoffen, M.D., A.D., D.D.S., F.L.D., F-F-F-and-F. She tells the manager her address, 1127 Walnut Avenue, and he hires the Laurel and Hardy Transfer Company to deliver the piano in their freight wagon.

The duo soon learn from a postman that the home is at the top of a very long stairway. During their first attempt, they encounter a lady with a baby carriage trying to go down the steps. They trying to let her pass, but knock the piano back down the stairs. After the lady laughs at them, Stan kicks her in her backside, causing her to punch him back and hit Ollie over the head with a milk bottle. Stan and Ollie then heft the piano back up the stairs. The angry lady tells a policeman on the corner, who kicks Ollie twice and hits Stan with his truncheon after the latter suggests the officer is "bounding over his steps" (i.e. "overstepping his bounds"). Meanwhile, the piano has rolled down the steps again. The two carry the piano up the stairs for a third time. Halfway up, they encounter the short-tempered and pompous Professor von Schwartzenhoffen, who impatiently tells them to take the piano out of his way, he should like to pass. Ollie very reasonably and sensibly suggests he walk around, which sets off the Professor in a fit of rage. He screams at Stan and Ollie to get the piano out of his way, and Stan knocks the Professor's top hat down the stairs and into the street, where it is crushed by a passing vehicle. The outraged professor goes off, loudly threatening to have the two arrested.

Finally, Stan and Ollie get the piano to the top, where Ollie falls into a fountain. As they ring the bell of 1127 Walnut Avenue, the piano rolls back down to the street again. They wearily drag it back up the stairs, and meet the postman by the house, who informs them they did not have to lift the piano up the stairs; they could have driven up the hill and stopped in front of the house. Stan and Ollie promptly carry the piano back down the stairs, put it back in their wagon and drive it up the hill to the house.

Finding no one home, they finally succeed in getting the piano in the house, after dropping it into the fountain and falling in themselves. They make a shambles of the living room while unpacking it. Meanwhile, the owner of 1127 Walnut Avenue, Professor von Schwartzenhoffen, returns and is outraged at what he finds, as he hates pianos. He attacks the piano with an axe, destroying it, but regrets his actions when Mrs. Von Schwartzenhoffen returns home and tearfully tells her husband it had been a surprise birthday present. To apologize for his actions, the Professor signs the delivery receipt, but the pen Stan and Ollie give him squirts ink over his face. Furious, Schwartzenhoffen blows his temper again and the duo run away.

Cast

  • Stan Laurel as Stan
  • Oliver Hardy as Ollie
  • Billy Gilbert as Professor Theodore von Schwarzenhoffen
  • Gladys Gale as Mrs. von Schwarzenhoffen
  • Sam Lufkin as Police officer
  • Lilyan Irene as Nursemaid
  • Charlie Hall as Postman
  • William Gillespie as Piano salesman

Trivia

  • It won the first Academy Award for Live Action Short Film (Comedy) in 1932.
  • The film is a partial remake of Hats Off!
  • The steps still exist in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles, near Laurel and Hardy Park. A plaque commemorating the film was set into one of the lower steps in the 1990s at 34°4′59″N 118°16′30.50″W.
    • The steps are referenced in "The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair", a short story by Ray Bradbury, as the meeting place of the couple in the story, who call each other Ollie and Stan.