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The Music Box/Helpmates

Amazon.com
How do you move a piano in the Hollywood Hills? If you’re Laurel and Hardy, you somehow decide to take the stairs–several hundred of them, it appears–just before you bring the truck around the side way. A delightfully extended slapstick turn, as the piano runs roughshod over the two hapless movers, who never do things the easy way when the hard way can be so much funnier. Amazingly, the instrument arrives in one piece, but not before it also gets dunked in a fish pond. Billy Gilbert makes a terrific foil for the dimwitted shenanigans of the ever-confident duo, as the piano’s unhappy recipient. –Marshall Fine

The Music Box/Helpmates

  • Lewis M. Greenberg posted: 29 Sep at 8:05 pm

    With the possible exception of “Big Business” and “March of the Wooden Soldiers” (aka: “Babes in Toyland”), this is arguably the funniest of the L&H films. The “Music Box” is actually a piano (a present for Billy Gilbert from his wife) inside of an appropriate sized crate. Take one L&H, one VERY long stairway, one highly MOBILE crate, one locked home (Gilbert had just left), one baby carriage pushing female who laughs at L&H, one stern policeman, shake well, and you’ve got one hilarious cocktail of delivery mayhem. The timing never misses a beat and the special effects are incredible, especially noteworthy for a film produced in the 1920s. The “Music Box” seems to have a life of its own which only adds to the hilarity of the situation. This short is the antidote for all who have ever suffered at the hands of a furniture delivery.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  • Lori Calzavara posted: 29 Sep at 9:07 pm

    Very funny- a classic. The Amazon service was fantastic- got this in a couple days.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  • Anonymous posted: 30 Sep at 12:01 am

    The video includes the Music Box, their academy award nominated film, one of their classics and HelpMates, another classic. Both are colorized and are 2 of their best & funniest shorts. A hearty thumbs up and a best buy!
    Rating: 5 / 5

  • grayc@mindspring.com posted: 30 Sep at 2:13 am

    This video is one of the best Laurel & Hardy films made. It has all of the classic humor, frustration, slapstick, and everything a Laurel & Hardy fan expects to see as well as the emotional, humor laden twist at the end. Well worth it.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  • Joel L. Gandelman posted: 30 Sep at 4:42 am

    This colorized version of The Music Box, the 1932 three-reeler that won the Oscar for Best Short Subject, is TOPS. If you had to show a young kid or teen Laurel & Hardy this would be the one to show them, for several reasons: the comedy is timeless, the characters instantly loveable, and the fact that it is color allows modern kids to relate a bit better to it. The film’s premise is simple: Stan and Ollie have to move a bulky piano…most of the time up a looooooooooooooooooong narrow stairway. And all kinds of complications (a too smart and stubborn horse, a lady with a baby carriage, an angry policeman) occur. The comedy is symphonic: it starts slowly, builds (the laughs growing all the way), then seemingly comes full circle with the “punch” ending. The timing is impeccable: Oliver Hardy looks at the camera with his best “can-you-believe this?” look. Each gag reaches its peak at just the right moment. Some gags are repeated with variations — an early comedic “callback” technique (verbally used very effectively by David Letterman). And the chemistry between “the boys” is as good as it gets. The Music Box is also blessed with the blustery comedy genius of Billy Gilbert, who nearly stole scenes in which he appeared with Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin’s immortal The Great Dictator. One “defect” purists have about this version: the background musical score in parts of this short is not the original. This music was classic Hal Roach short music re-created in modern times and added when they put the colorized version on video. But it doesn’t detract from the short. The second short, Helpmates, is also hilarious as Stan “helps” Ollie clean up after a wild party — causing more damage than the party. And if you think colorization is a crime, think again in the case of Laurel and Hardy. Stan’s daughter has said that her father would have loved to have some of his films done in color, but the process was not as advanced when his classic films were shot, and the cost was too high. Most colorized versions of Laurel and Hardy films have the correct color of Stan’s hair: red.
    Rating: 5 / 5

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