The Music Box

  • Directors: James Parrott
  • Producers: Hal Roach
  • Writers: H M Walker
  • Genres: Comedy, Short
  • Actors: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy

Mrs. von Schwarzenhoffen has bought a player piano as a surprise birthday present for her husband Professor Theodore von Schwarzenhoffen. Stan and Ollie have started a “transfer co.” and must deliver it. As they near the address in their horse and cart they ask a postman for directions. He tells them that it is at the top of the ‘stoop’, up a preposterously tall flight of stairs.

Stan and Ollie unload the piano from their cart, but their horse (“Susie”) takes a malicious step, dumping the piano right onto Ollie’s back. Carrying it across the street, they start to carry the piano up the stairs. A quarter of the way up a nursemaid with a baby carriage asks to pass by. They let go of the piano and it careens to the bottom of the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs the nursemaid begins to laugh at the duo and says “of all the dumb things.” Stan kicks her backside, so she punches him. Ollie laughs, and she breaks a bottle on his head. The woman goes off to complain to a police officer telling him that Stan kicked her “right in the middle of my daily duties.” The police officer arrives as they are halfway up the stairs with the piano. Ollie sends Stan to the bottom of the stairs to talk to the officer, but he wants to speak to Ollie (“I don’t want you – I want that other monkey!”). Stan calls him down (“He wants the other monkey!”), and the piano chases Ollie back to the bottom of the stairs once again. The police officer kicks Ollie in the backside and hits Stan on the head with his truncheon to teach the boys a lesson.

Ollie realizes he’s about to be crushed by the piano as they take it off the cart, so he unhooks Susie. They wheel it to the front door and ring the doorbell but nobody is home. They decide to lift the piano into the house through an open upstairs window. The pair create a colossal mess and destroy most of the fabric of the house’s interior getting the piano down the stairs and into the living room; they then unpack the piano (flooding the room in the process, since the box had filled up with water after accidentally being dropped in the ornamental pool Ollie had earlier stepped in), and set it playing a medley of “Patriotic Songs” (which inexplicably includes the “The Arkansas Traveler”), to which the boys perform an impromptu dance while they begin to tidy up, whereupon the professor arrives home. Furious at seeing the deliverymen again, and in his house without permission, he flies into a rage, proclaims his hatred for pianos, and takes an axe to it. The piano starts to play the Star Spangled Banner and they all stand to attention. The professor turns the piano off and takes the axe to it once more. The professor’s wife arrives home and he tells her that “these idiots delivered this piano by mistake”. She tells him it’s his birthday present, so he decides he likes pianos and in fact he’s “nuts” about them. He asks Stan and Ollie what he can do for them. They ask him to sign the delivery note and hand him the note and a fountain pen. The pen squirts ink into his face, and he then chases Stan and Ollie out of the house.

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