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Ollie Dee and Stanley Dum try to borrow money from their employer, the toymaker, to pay off the mortgage on Mother Peep's shoe and keep it and Little Bo Peep from the clutches of the evil Barnaby. When that fails, they trick Barnaby into marrying Stanley Dum instead of Bo Peep. Enraged, Barnaby unleashes the bogeymen from their caverns to destroy Toyland. Written by
Paul Penna <email@example.com>
I just watched "March of the Wooden Soldiers" for the first time since I was a young kid, hoping for a little bit of reliving the 'ol childhood. I didn't quite get that, as the "kitsch" value of this film is unfortunately kind of low. There's not much for an adult here, even one trying to relive the old memories, as this is most definitely a children's film in every sense of the word! It's not a great film, as the first half pretty much just drags on very slowly, without much going on. The only reason to watch the first half at all is to enjoy the character of Barnaby, the evil rich villain in town, he's just great and has every cliché and mannerism of a "rich villain in the town" down pat.
The film starts to move a bit during the dunking sequence, which is hilarious all the way through! Then we start getting into the action, such as seeing Boogeyland for the first time, which I remember used to scare the heck out of me as a kid.
Another thing, Toyland seems like such the merry place, but when someone does something wrong, the punishment is carried out by guys in black executioner costumes! There's more to Toyland than meets the eye apparently.
Now mean man Barnaby is tricked by Laurel and Hardy into not marrying Bo Peep, so he frames Tom Tom as a killer of one of the three little pigs. As Tom Tom is banished to Boogeyland, it turns out that the "pork" evidence is actually beef (the townsfolk won't touch the pigs but have no problems about killing the cows evidently) and Laurel and Hardy find the pig alive in Barnaby's basement. Barnaby escapes the very angry townsfolk, and it turns out he is not just the man man in town, but he is also the master of the Boogeymen, an army of whom he brings back to town, seemingly a thousand of them, to break stuff, cause terror and even kidnap little children!
This sequence is dynamite, and the townsfolk strike back, finally with Laurel and Hardy pressing the "on" button of all the wooden soldiers, who march into town to rescue the kiddies, and drive the Boogeymen out of town, some to be eaten by alligators! Unfortunately, what I remember as an awesome scene is really short. the actual "March of the Wooden Soldiers" is but a mere three minutes long! That's all it takes to get rid of all the Boogeymen, but there are some cool images in between. The decapitated wooden soldier always creeped me out a bit, and the soldier saving the little girl by giving her a piggyback ride is cute. The magic of "Toyland" must have made the wooden soldiers actually become real in a sense, as before all they did was walk aimlessly in a straight line.
All the actors are decent, and Cagney's mom from "Public Enemy" is Bo Peep's mom. I'm not sure why Laurel and Hardy are living in the house, unless I missed it. But they do a decent job in the film overall, it seems as if they are having a good time.
"March of the Wooden Soldiers" is definitely good for the kiddies, the very young kiddies, because despite that it was released in 1934, it's actually more edgy than much of today's genuine kiddie fare. It's not something you are going to rush twice to see as an adult, but it's good viewing for the very young children.
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