Monday, September 10, 2012

The Music Box

Often, especially on the weekends, I "go down the rat hole" while reading the morning paper.  A perfect example of this happened yesterday while reading the Sunday New York Times.  I began my breakfast reading this great article by Dick Cavett regarding a meeting he had with Stan Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy fame) back in the 60's.  Early in the article, he states:
"I actually was about to meet the man who helped the fat man struggle and wrestle and heave that piano up that long flight of steps in "The Music Box.'"

Now, I've always been a fan of slapstick, particularly back in the 60's.  I loved Abbot & Costello, The Three Stooges, and Dick van Dyke, and I was somewhat familiar with Laurel and Hardy, occasionally watching chopped up versions of their many short films from the 20's and 30's on syndicated TV.  And, of course, there was "Babes in Toyland" (aka "The March of the Wooden Soldiers"), their holiday classic that is still a TV staple between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But I had never heard of "The Music Box", so it was off to the Internet and down the rat hole.

The first stop was YouTube.  I wanted to see that piano scene for myself!  I searched on "Laurel and Hardy" and "piano" and came up with a number of hits.  Click on the image below to see the first excerpt I selected, probably because it was colorized.

Encountering The Professor
If you found that scene lame, you can stop reading right now.  For me, though, there were at least three parts of that 100 second clip that had me laughing 15 minutes later whenever I thought of them.  I had to see another excerpt.   If you're still with me, click on the image below and watch another 90 seconds:

Getting a look at the stairs
That excerpt wasn't as uproarious as the first, but it was funny enough to pique my interest.  It was off to Wikipedia to research this film.  As it turns out, it's probably Laurel and Hardy's most famous, winning the very first Academy Award for Live Action Short Film (Comedy) in 1932.  On top of that, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

So, some night when you're looking for a few laughs and you've only got about 30 minutes available, grab a beer, open up your laptop, and click on the image below.   It's the full 27 minute and 43 second version in the original black and white and with all of the opening credits intact.

"The Music Box" in its entirety
One more thing:  For those of you who've seen the movie Barbershop (which all of you should), Laurel and Hardy were alive and well when those two guys tried to get that stolen ATM machine up a flight of stairs!

Trailer for "Barbershop" --  0:24 mark
It doesn't take much for me to fall into a rat hole but -- at least this time -- I'm glad I did.

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