The Music Box (1932)

"Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy decided to re-organize and re-supervise their entire financial structure -- so they took the $3.80 and went into business "

Produced by Hal Roach
Directed by James Parrott

Featuring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Billy Gilbert


When a woman buys a player piano (she thinks "it's adorable") to surprise her husband on his birthday, The Laurel & Hardy Transfer Co. (meaning their horse and cart) is assigned to make the early morning delivery. Arriving in the general vicinity, they ask a mail carrier for directions to 1127 Walnut Avenue. "That's the house up there," points Mr. Postman, "right on top of the stoop." It's quite a long, imposing flight of terraced steps. Ollie pauses. "This requires a little thought," he says. They decide to remove the crated the piano from their buckboard -- achieved with great difficulty -- then carry it up the steep hill of stairs.


Heave, ho! Heave, ho! Heave, ho! Along the narrow way, huffing and puffing, Stan and Ollie meet a maid pushing a baby carriage ("Will you gentlemen please let me pass?"), a neighborhood cop wielding a night stick ("I don't want you; I want the other monkey"), and a top-hatted, blustery German professor type carrying a cane ("What? Walk around? Me?"). These interruptions, each leading to contretemps, plus their own miscalculations, seem to produce the same sorry result -- time and again the piano crate careens noisily all the way back down the staircase, once dragging Hardy in tow, another time apparently chasing him to the bottom. Despite their determined, laborious upward struggle, the jangling, strong-willed piano seems equally determined to move on its own and return to street level. In one case the noisy instrument somehow makes a right-hand turn in order to plunge, bouncing all the way, back down to the pavement so far below, happily announcing its arrival with a selection of random musical notes. By that afternoon, gasping after much arduous, sweaty labor, at last they reach the hill's summit. But the two delivery men find no one home. Not a problem. The resourceful team employs a block and tackle to hoist the piano up to and through an open balcony window on the second floor. Then they unpack the crate in the living room, at first unmindful of the damage caused everywhere in the crash-bang process. By some miracle, the piano actually works, and plays a medley of patriotic songs as the bungling boys seek to clean up some of the property they've destroyed. Whereupon, the homeowner returns: it's the same short-tempered professor from that previous altercation as the boys ascended to the hilltop. He is furious. Besides surveying his residence in ruin, he screams, "I hate and detest pianos!" Removing all doubt, the dignified gentleman picks up a handy axe and hacks the "mechanical blunderbuss" to little bits and pieces. Just then his wife arrives, in tears, to explain everything. Forgiving all, the suddenly contrite professor is happy to sign Hardy's delivery receipt book ... until the ink pen explodes all over his face and he chases the intruders out the front door.

-- by Richard W. Bann --