While not from a fresh viewing, as I agree that no reply to this 3 reel gem is a crime, here is a relevant posting I originally made on the Laurel & Hardy Forum November 15, 2013 (The Following Includes Spoilers!):
THE MUSIC BOX: Observations & Opinions
THE MUSIC BOX was filmed by Hal Roach Studios and released by MGM on April 16 1932.
THE MUSIC BOX is essentially a remake of Laurel & Hardy's 1927 Silent Two Reeler, HATS OFF, the latter of which is their only team film for which to date, no known copies have yet officially surfaced (In spite of recent, though unsubstantiated rumors of a privately owned clip!), even in fragmented form!
On 2011's U.S. Based LAUREL & HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION set, only THE MUSIC BOX'S first two reels were transferred from it's original negative, while it's third reel derives from a dupe negative taken from a work print. This is said to be because the third reel negative disappeared around 1983, which would have been about two years prior to the start of Richard W. Bann & Company's massive, 17 year (1985-2002) restoration of the Laurel & Hardy Hal Roach Sound Film Library. Considering the challenge posed, the editing between the two prints is remarkably seamless, in my opinion!
THE MUSIC BOX was the first ever Comedy Short to win an Academy Award. It won as Best Short Subject, Comedy for 1931-32. Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Hal Roach accepted the Oscar at the November 18, 1932 Academy Awards Ceremony. It was at this same Ambassador Hotel Based Ceremony, that Hal Roach's good friend Walt Disney (Who also won an Honorary Oscar for the creation of Mickey Mouse!) accepted his own Academy Award for the 3 Strip Technicolor Animated Short, FLOWERS & TREES, which was the first Cartoon ever awarded an Oscar, this for the Best Short Subject, Cartoons Category.
Through the window of the shop where the Piano is purchased, we see a passing Streetcar (Marked Los Angeles Railway.), and a Retail Signs bearing the names "National Credit Jewelers" and "Star Outfitting Co. Credit Clothiers." Having viewed THE MUSIC BOX many times over the years, I'm still not certain as to whether or not Rear Projection is employed here. If so, this is certainly one of the more convincing examples of it to turn up in a Hal Roach Film during this period! Two Roach Films of the period, the Zasu Pitts/Thelma Todd Two Reeler, RED NOSES (From March, 1932.) and the boys own June 1932 Short, COUNTY HOSPITAL feature two particularly horrid examples of the use of Rear Projection! If not, the timely passing of the Streetcar (Especially given the briefness of the "Window" scene!) is indeed, a curious coincidence!
There are those that feel THE MUSIC BOX'S Stairs Sequence goes on too long. Contrary to the common perception that this takes up most of the Film's length, the approximate time between the start of Stan & Ollie's first attempt up the stairs and the final illogical (Though completely in line with the boys' do it right at all costs philosophy!) descent down those same steps is a shade under 12 minutes. The far more monotonous (In my opinion!) Boot Removal Scene in the 1931 Laurel & Hardy three reeler, BE BIG! lasts 13 minutes and 22 seconds! In THE MUSIC BOX, the Stairs Sequence is punctuated by comic encounters with an obnoxious Nurse Maid, a Cop, and the infamous Professor Von Schwarzenhoffen, who we eventually discover was the intended recipient of the Music Box as a surprise Birthday Present from his Wife!
Gladys Gale, who played Mrs. Von Schwarzenhoffen appeared in just one other Laurel & Hardy Film, their last Starring Hal Roach Short from 1935, THICKER THAN WATER, in which she played an Auction bidder who leaves Ollie high and dry. In THE MUSIC BOX, she's the buyer of the Piano with which the boys have such an arduous ordeal! In my opinion, Gladys' pronounced overacting (Which is mercifully brief!) in the final scene is one of this gem's few weaknesses (Visible Suspension Wires during one of the Music Box's descents down the Stairs is another!)! The concluding exploding pen gag could also be perceived as a bit of a throwaway. As an added note, one might also wonder how the boys' two scenes with the Professor portrayed by James Finlayson would have played out! However, these are all minor quibbles (Except perhaps, for the last one!) that shouldn't detract anyone from enjoying this true Film Classic!
The songs we hear on the Piano Roll are snatches of Patriotic tunes, including I WISH I WAS IN DIXIE and THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER (The latter produces the Film's one poignant moment!), the latter of which, while composed by Francis Scott Key during the war of 1812, only became the official American National Anthem the year before THE MUSIC BOX was released!
Another fairly common question among Laurel & Hardy Scholars in recent years is does THE MUSIC BOX live up to it's lofty status as an Academy Award Winning Film? In my opinion, my answer is a qualified yes. There is certainly no doubt that this gem is well constructed, and is also a prime example of a Laurel & Hardy Short that makes for an ideal introduction for new fans! While other characters do appear at just the right moments to not only prevent the 12 minute Stairs Sequence from growing stagnant, but greatly add to the comedic magic that takes place on those Steps; we are also treated to ample screen time in which Stan & Ollie are left to themselves, and more comedy gold is mined, with the Music Box (The Crate, at least!) effectively standing in as a third character! However, whether or not THE MUSIC BOX is the best Laurel & Hardy Film ever made is subject to opinion, and very compelling arguments have been made in favor of other Laurel & Hardy Vehicles. For instance, in my opinion, their earlier two reel gem HOG WILD (Also an ideal Laurel & Hardy introduction!) could have also taken home Best Comedy Short Oscar honors for 1929-30, had that category existed then! There are also those who find THE MUSIC BOX'S goings off to be simply too frustrating (My lovely wife is unfortunately for me, among them!). As a certain level of frustration exists in many of the boys' Films (Ultimately success is simply not part of Stan & Ollie's usual "Modus Operandi," though their succeeding on occasion was necessary in order to at least somewhat avoid the perceived monotony of consistent failures!), this is, in my opinion fairly revealing in terms of people who are simply not likely destined to be fans of the bulk of Laurel & Hardy's work! In these instances, I find WAY OUT WEST to be an ideal panacea for it's great comedy, combined with what most viewers will find to be a most satisfying conclusion.
With that said, THE MUSIC BOX is, in my opinion, an ideal way to spend 29 minutes, and should make for ideal viewing for MOST hardcore and casual Laurel & Hardy Fans!