Stairways in Film

5 movie stairway scenes-Legend-stairs-movies-years

Early film studios were located in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, consequently stairway gags were filmed on location using a number of the local Silver Lake stair-streets.  The locations of all of these stairways are on this Google Map entitled:
Stairway Art – SoCal Style


From here down, we show then and now photo comparisons of the stairways, and embedded videos of the films that were shot on these historic stair-streets.

Cove St Stairway featuring, The Pest – 1922Cove St Stairway-The Pest 1922vs2014-with text

First up is the Cove St Stairway, used in the 1922 silent film, The Pest, starring Stan Laurel before he was paired with Oliver Hardy, portraying the Jimmy character he later formed into the Stanley character he combined with Hardy’s Ollie character to form the Lauren and Hardy duo we know and love. The stairway gag in this film is a stop motion slide he used to zip down the 198 steps on the side encasement of the Cove St stairway. Because the video has privacy settings that don’t allow this website to embed and play it, click the blue button reading “Watch on Vimeo” to see the film.

Music Box Steps featuring, Ice Cold Cocos – 1926, Hats Off – 1927, and The Music Box – 1932All three films on the Music Box Steps - 1926-1927-1932

The Music Box Steps were named after the 1932 Academy Award winning comedy short talkie, The Music Box, in which Laurel and Hardy had a little trouble hauling an upright piano (AKA music box) up the steps. This is was NOT the first movie to use this stairway, being preceded by at least two other silent films we know of: Ice Cold Cocos from 1926, and Hats Off from 1927. The above photo is a composite of all three films compared to the modern stairway in 2012. The latter two films have children, where the original gag was repeated in the later films. The 1926 silent film,  Ice Cold Cocos has ice and then the ice box itself carried up the stairway, and the 1941 Three Stooges film – An Ache in Every Stake, had the same type of gag but on the Edendale Stairway!  Similarly, the 1927 silent film, Hats Off had a washing machine carried up the stairway, and the 1945 film – It’s Your Move, had the same gag but on the Descanso Stairway! The two later films will be covered in separate entries below. Here now are the three films using the Music Box Steps, in chronological order. Note that the original Hats Off film was lost, so what you will see is a reconstruction using still frames, publicity photos, and surviving clips from the film.

Edendale Steps featuring, An Ache in Every Stake – 1941Edendale Stairways Three Stooges An Ache in Every Stake 1941 vs 2016

In 1941, The Three Stooges put their own spin on a stairway gag, by recreating the ice and ice box carried up the steps, first seen in the 1926 silent film Ice Cold Cocos (shown above). The name of the film is, An Ache in Every Stake, shown in the player below.

Descanso Dr Stairway featuring, It’s Your Move – 1945Descanso 1945 vs 2016

The same director that created the 1927 silent film Hats Off, recreated the same washing machine carried up the stairs gag in the 1945 comedy short he also directed called, It’s Your Move, and can be seen in the player below.

Marathon St Stairway featuring, LA Story – 1991LA Story Movie Frame of Marathon Stairway-Legend

Steve Martin takes a rather unique and very LA-ish kind of shortcut on his work commute by way of the marathon Street stairway as you can see in this 2 minute excerpt from the 1991 movie, LA Story. The bumpy ride down the stairway starts at 1:43 in the video.

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Alley – It still exists in Hollywood! [Bonus Video]