Since I enjoy the history of Los Angeles, I'm always interested in the backgrounds of where certain movies were filmed. Of course, most of them were made on backlots, which is more convenient, but more expensive, but to me the best ones were made on low budgets and simply filmed right nearby on a local street.
When I saw the 1932 short movie "the Music Box" with Laurel and Hardy, I could immediately tell that it wasn't a backlot, it was a real place somewhere in Los Angeles. So I jumped onto the internet and found the exact address, which is at 923 N. Vendome Street, which is in Silverlake. And don't worry, I'm not giving out private information here, although it's a private residence, the steps are public, and always have been.
Of course in the story the steps led up to a house that Laurel and Hardy are delivering a piano to. It's a funny premise, having to haul a piano (a music box) up those stairs, and if you like Laurel and Hardy stuff, it's one of their best. I've watched it more times than I can count.
At the time this neighborhood was building built, and it must have seemed very funny to see the houses perched on the sides of hills. Before the 1920s, there was still enough room to build houses on relatively flat ground in the LA area, but starting at this time it became worthwhile for builders to go to the trouble of building on some crazy steep hills. The most famous neighborhood of that era is "Hollywoodland", where the Hollywood sign is. But let's get back to the steps.
The steps connect the streets for pedestrians. Then, as now, you could just walk up and down the steps instead of walking the whole distance around on the street. Of course now most people just drive, so it's not important now. In 1932 enough people walked that you had to accommodate them. LA hadn't really turned into a city just for cars quite yet by then.
If you go there, and are like me, you'll be pleased to see the same steps, and houses as in the 1932 film, and you'll be saddened by the fact that the concrete is old and stained, as is the neighborhood itself. It was sparkling new back then, but it isn't new anymore.
This was just an ordinary neighborhood when "the Music Box" was filmed, and it's still the same way. It's not a glamorous Beverly Hills area, it's just a place where people live. And it's good to keep that in mind when you visit. I had my friend drop me there to take a couple of pictures, turn the van around, shoot me, and then we moved on, not blocking the street or anything like that. If I lived there, that's what I would want people to do, not just turn on their emergency flashers and block my garage. I suppose I'd have to accept that I was living somewhere that was famous enough to have a plaque set in the concrete, but I'd appreciate courtesy from the visitors.
I get a kick out of seeing these places, and if you Google "Music Box steps" you'll see that I'm not the only one.
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