The Music Box
- James Parrott
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Thursday, November 24, 2005
This is just the beginning of Laurel & Hardy’s most laurelled short film, an Oscar winner. Some call it perfection and I wouldn’t hesitate to agree. After becoming a fan of the duo, I instantly searched for this gem and was absolutely pleased by it. As usual with the boys, it’s got both wit and pantomime and it flows easily, never stopping for a second but giving enough time from joke to joke to let the viewers laugh as they should. This is a perfect example of the guys’ incomparable mutual understanding, as they mimic half their communication and make it clear enough to the other and the viewers what they’re trying to say. Ollie is at his best bossy attitude and Stan is a magnificent follower, though rather careless at times—which causes the piano to fall from the top of the stairs down to the street!
I never thought seeing a piano fall down a stairwell could be funnier that it is in a cartoon but was I wrong. I never got tired of seeing the boys fail and the piano fall, playing those muffled, discordant notes in its way down. When things got complicated by passers-by, all the better: First there’s a nursemaid (Lilyan Irene) pushing a baby carriage and asking the boys to let her through; when they try to, the piano falls, she gets upset, and Stan kicks her. Then there’s the obnoxious Professor von Schwarzenhoffen (Billy Gilbert), who hates music, pianos, and the boys who try to get one near his home. Then comes the policeman (Sam Lufkin) who has been called by the nursemaid to set matters straight with the rude guys who are moving a piano up the stairs. And finally there’s the innocent postman (Charlie Hall) who, by way of helping the guys, informs them of a major mistake they have made.
When all that is said and done, the adventure has just begun. The stairs were the first step, now comes getting the piano in the house. The owners aren’t home, so they must find a way to do the job. If you think this spells disaster, you’re right. If you think it’s hilarious, you’re getting just the right idea. And just wait till Professor Schwarzenhoffen reappears, not to mention his wife (Gladys Gale)!
A remake of Hats Off, their own silent film where they had to climb up the stairs with a washing machine, The Music Box is a 30-minute pleasure and one of L&H’s finest hours (or half hours). Even their clothing is riotous! This is top belly laughs we’re talking about.
I am now a HUGE fan of Laurel & Hardy and I can’t wait to keep seeing what they have to offer. They’re simply irresistible and immortal. I’m so glad I have the chance to appreciate their work…
Policeman: “He kicked you?”
Nursemaid: “Yes, officer, right in the middle of my daily duties.”
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