Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Music Box Steps, Stooges' Stairs

What the sidewalk in front of Tiffany’s is to Audrey Hepburn fans, so The Music Box Steps is to fans of Laurel & Hardy, and possibly also a similar set of concrete steps to fans of The Three Stooges.

Well, perhaps these two remote sites are not held with the same degree of reverence as Tiffany’s. Still, they both hold their own appeal. In an era when most films were shot on the back lot, it’s hard to find actual locations from classic Hollywood movies to visit.

Laurel & Hardy shot bits of “The Music Box,” their 1932 Oscar-winning short (Best Short Subject, Comedy), outside on a set of concrete stairs on Vendome Street in the Silver Lake section of LA, an area of steep hills. The steps are really just a vertical alleyway, a pedestrian walk linking Vendome to the top of the hill. Today, there is a sign and plaque marking the spot in this residential neighborhood. The site is a bit overgrown. There are a few houses that were not there when Laurel & Hardy had to haul an upright piano up those steps with the usual disastrous results.

Stairs from The Three Stooges’ “An Ache in Every Stake” (1941) are located on Fair Oak View Terrace, also in the Silver Lake district. They are slightly longer than The Music Box steps. The landscape here is also a bit overgrown, with a few more houses than were seen in the original short. You can’t see all the way to the street below from the very top as Curly did when he hollered down to Moe and Larry. No Oscar-winning film here (well, obviously), “An Ache in Every Stake” is the one where the boys are ice delivery men and they have to carry a chunk of ice up these steps. But the ice keeps melting to a mere fragment when Curly reaches the top. The boys finally devise a relay system.

These steps, unlike The Music Box Steps are unmarked, and it takes a die-hard fan to find them, but for such a fan, it surely can’t be less thrilling than having your picture taken in front of Tiffany’s.

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