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Film / The Music Box

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The Music Box is a 1932 Laurel and Hardy short film directed by James Parrott, produced by Hal Roach Studios and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Regarded by many as the best film the duo ever made, it was the winner of the first Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Comedy) in 1932 and was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry in 1997.

The short itself depicts Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as delivery men attempting to carry a large, heavy player piano up a long flight of stairs, and failing spectacularly several times. Once they finally do get the piano up the stairs they have even more trouble getting it into the house they're delivering it to. And to top it all off, the recipient of the piano is someone Laurel and Hardy angered while bringing it up the long flight of stairs, and was unaware he was getting a piano because his wife bought it as a surprise. He is not thrilled to see Laurel and Hardy invading his home and making a nice mess of things.


  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Addressed; the nurse is clearly shown to be in the wrong after slapping Stanley and breaking a bottle over Ollie's head, but the duo are the ones who get blamed by a policeman for when Stanley kicked her, which she claims is "molesting" her.
  • Epic Fail: It's just one right after another.
  • Groin Attack: Ollie gets poked in the groin, twice, by the policeman.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: The nurse breaks a milk bottle over Oliver's head.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The police officer accuses Laurel and Hardy of 'molesting' the nurse, which at one time just meant 'bothering' without any sexual connotations.
  • Here We Go Again!: Every time the piano rolls down the stairs.
  • Herr Doktor: Professor Theodor Von Schwarzenhoffen.
  • Instrument of Murder: Well, not really, it just causes them massive amounts of physical pain.
  • Jerkass:
    • The nurse who laughs at Laurel and Hardy when she causes the piano to roll down the stairs again, and breaks a bottle over Oliver's head for laughing when she slaps Stanley for kicking her. Then she gives a policeman a one-sided story of what happened.
    • The professor, who loses his temper and goes on a long angry rant simply because Stan and Ollie asked him to step a foot to the side and go around.
  • Large Ham: Professor Theodore von Schwarzenhoffen.
  • Left the Background Music On: The music playing during the introduction turns out to be played by the piano, and it stops when a salesman turns it off.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: Laurel kicks a nurse who laughs at their misfortunes in the behind. Later a cop kicks Hardy.
  • Malaproper: Laurel, as usual.
    "Say, listen. Don't you think you're bounding over your steps?"
  • No Indoor Voice: Professor Von Schawarzenhoffen.
  • Now You Tell Me: It turns out that Laurel and Hardy could have taken the piano around the corner and avoided the stairs entirely, but they don't find this out until they finally reach the top. They then haul the piano back down the stairs and take the short cut. Naturally.
  • Overly Long Name: Professor Theodore Von Schwarzenhoffen, M.D., A.D., D.D.S., F.L.D., F.F.F and F.
  • Parrot Exposition: When the duo are told by a postman that the house that they're delivering is right on top of the stoop, Ollie repeats exactly that.
  • Piano Drop: The Trope Codifier; happens when it rolls down the stairs several times, and again when the boys are trying to hoist it up to the second story of the house with a crudely put together pulley.
  • Police Brutality: Not overly harsh, but the cop does get a little rough with the boys.
  • Product Delivery Ordeal: Laurel and Hardy play a pair of deliverymen who have to deliver a piano up a steep flight of stairs. It's Played for Laughs.
  • The Remake: The film is basically a remake of an earlier, silent L&H short called Hats Off (in which the duo attempted to navigate a washing machine up the same set of stairs). This is considered a lost film, sadly, and there are no known surviving prints of it.
  • Try to Fit That on a Business Card: Professor Theodore von Schwartzenhoffen, M.D., A.D., D.D.S., F.L.D., F-F-F-und-F.
  • Unusual Euphemism: When telling the cop what happened to her, the nurse says she got kicked right in the middle of her "daily duties".
  • Vandalism Backfire: Professor Von Schwarzenhoffen smashes the player piano that his wife bought for him as a surprise.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Laurel.