The Music Box

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Director: James Parrott
Dialogue writer: H. M. Walker


  • Stan Laurel
  • Oliver Hardy
  • Gladys Gale — Mrs. von Schwarzenhoffen
  • Billy Gilbert — Professor Theodore von Schwarzenhoffen
  • William Gillespie — piano salesman
  • Charlie Hall — postman
  • Lilyan Irene — nursemaid
  • Sam Lufkin — policeman
Hal Roach: 1932
black & white; 29 minutes
November 2008


Odessa Steps, Ukraine (small)

The Music Box is a perfect latter-day labor of Sisyphus; followed by a miniature assault on a suburban citadel of Troy; and then capped with a constrained battlefield of Ares. All this makes up a classic Laurel and Hardy three-reel film with the clearest of everyday plots but the most hilarious scenes of baffling obstacles faced manfully.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy undertake to deliver a crated player-piano to a house. Our hard-working fellows, of course, no slouches at making mountains out of molehills, are fully capable of creating the Odessa Steps out of a sidewalk curb. The Sisyphean first labor is their attempt to haul this heavy piano crate up a very long outdoor flight of steps in Los Angeles. Gravity, passersby, and even the law seem leagued against them. This is a deservedly famous sequence.

All these steps laboriously surmounted, Laurel and Hardy then must simply get the piano crate into the house. Easier said than done, of course. They work almost as hard and more ingeniously against this more subtle problem.

These efforts are capped by the reception of the piano by the homeowner. Best watched from a safe distance.

The Music Box is a delightful comedy classic. Don't miss it.


© 2008 Robert Wilfred Franson


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