Tom the Piper's Son is about to marry Mary Quite Contrary. On the eve of their wedding, evil miser Barnaby hires two henchmen to drown Tom and steal Mary's sheep, cared for by Little Bo ... See full summary »
Stan & Ollie have set up their own electrical repair store. Unfortunately, for them, the grocery store opposite is run by the man & wife they encountered with in Them Thar Hills (1935). ... See full summary »
Two sailors on leave, Stanley and Oliver meet two girls at a park and invite them to have a soda. Unfortunately, the boys have only enough money to split theirs, a point which Oliver can't ... See full summary »
Two ex-soldiers return from overseas--one of them having smuggled into the country a French orphan girl he has become attached to. They wind up running into their old sergeant--who hates ... See full summary »
Two escaped convicts (Laurel & Hardy) change clothes in the getaway car, but wind up wearing each other's pants. The rest of the film involves their trying to exchange pants, in alleys, in ... See full summary »
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>
Hal Roach signed Henry Brandon to play Barnaby after seeing him play the evil old Lawyer Cribbs in the long-running Los Angeles stage melodrama "The Drunkard". Roach wasn't aware that Brandon was only twenty-one years old at the time, and demanded to know where the old man was when Brandon appeared at his office. Heavy makeup made Brandon credible as the old Barnaby, a role he repeated in the Our Gang short Our Gang Follies of 1938 (1937). See more »
The wooden soldier, brought out as a demonstration model by Stan and Ollie, blinks in one shot. See more »
There are many films based on Victor Herbert's famous operetta, Babes in Toyland. There's the 1961 Disney film with Ray Bolger, there's the 1997 animated film, there's the 1980s TV film with Drew Barrymore, but the one I'm going to look at today is the 1934 Hal Roach Studios film starring the legendary comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy. I've I had to spill the truth, I'd say that this is my third favorite film of all time. It's up there with The Wizard of Oz and in my opinion, it should get a lot more recognition. For 1934, it's a wonder what they were able to accomplish with the hour and a half long film, not just with the special and practical effects, but with the pure spectacle and enchantment. This is a magical film, a film that grabs me and sucks me into it's realm every time I set eyes to it. It's got spectacular songs, brilliant set designs, a monkey in a Mickey Mouse costume and wondrous stop motion effects that rival that of King Kong. If I were to recommend it, I'd say see it in color, which is usually the version that airs on television anyway. The color, in my opinion, makes everything pop more and makes the fantasy land of Toyland seem more enchanted, more storybook like. It's like you are right there, experiencing the film's events with Stannie Dumb and Ollie Dee and routing for the Wooden Soldiers as they kick Bogeyman rump.
Laurel and Hardy are at their finest in this film and it's obvious this dim witted duo were one of the many inspirations for Star Wars' R2-D2 and C-3P0. They're always getting into trouble, getting dunked in a pool of water and getting fired from their job after a wooden soldier reigns havoc in the toy factory. Felix Knight, who portrays Tom-Tom Piper is a fantastic singer and Henry Brandon, who was just 21 years old at the time pulls off a menacing and wicked Silas Barnaby. And those Bogeyman, hoggish and haggard monstrosities are the most terrifying adversaries ever put to film. When I was a kid, these ghoulish, grotesque abominations were one of the elements of this film that made my jaw drop to the floor. I ran to the closet and grabbed my plush stuffed bunny rabbit and hoped the Bogeymen would go away.
Luckily, the Wooden Soldiers arrive to take out the villainous creatures and Barnaby as well. The Wooden Soldier March makes me feel brave and triumphant, like I can take on any peril and come out on top. These soldiers kick the living tar out of the Bogeymen and in one scene, a wooden soldier looses his head as he chases a Bogeyman into a house. In the very end, Barnaby and the Bogeymen are banished, everybody cheers and Ollie Dee gets a butt full of sharp darts launched from a cannon. What a rather macabre ending to an otherwise marvelous and magical motion picture. This is the pinnacle Thanksgiving movie for me and while there are many versions of the operetta in existence, this will always be the definitive version for me. Laurel and Hardy are grand, the look of the film is grand and this film just screams childhood. It takes me back to the carefree, innocent days of youth.
Bring on the Wooden Soldiers!
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