March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934) Poster

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A Dreamland Journey- -You Can Come Back Again
Jweybrew22 April 2004
Babes in Toyland was the first movie I saw on a big screen- -a holiday presentation in my grammar school auditorium, circa 1957- -uncut, unlike the many subsequent presentations I saw on TV in after years. I fell in love with Stan and Ollie, with Toyland, with the magic of the movies, all at once- -all of us watching laughed and thrilled to see all of the characters we had heard of in nursery rhymes come to life- -even the Three Little Pigs (with "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" on the soundtrack, courtesy of Uncle Walt Disney's studio!)- -we trembled with ecstatic terror at Silas Barnaby and his army of Bogeymen and cheered the house down when Stan and Ollie discovered the Perfect way to rout them and save the day!- -and yes, many of us, watching Charlotte Henry and Felix Knight as Bo-Peep and her plucky suitor Tom-Tom (the Piper's Son), found awakening within ourselves the realization of what romantic love might be about.- -and Stan and Ollie?- -a funny, wonderful duo, children like ourselves, joyously silly and giddily amazing. I dreamt of Toyland that night, and many nights after- -sweet dreams, scarey dreams, dreams of Ollie and Stannie as wonderful friends- -and once I woke crying, realizing that once I was grown up, Toyland would fade to a distant memory. Well, I was wrong. You can go back to Toyland, that Childhood's Dreamland, any time you watch this movie. I love it. You may, too. Note: current video versions are mostly also uncut, some are colorized, which in this instance (perhaps the only one)improves the presentation!
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Toy Story
lugonian12 January 2007
BABES IN TOYLAND (Hal Roach/MGM, 1934), directed Gus Meins and Charles Rogers, is a musical fairy tale based on Victor Herbert's 1903 operetta that became tailor-made for the talents of comedy team Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in what's considered to be their very best and highly acclaimed adaptation taken from an operatic work, thanks to its fine script, comedy material and notable storybook characters brought to life on the screen. In spite of Stan and Ollie having to take time away from the screen in favor of plot development, musical interludes and romantic subplot, even appearing nearly ten minutes from the start of the story, the movie, overall, succeeds.

Set in the mythical land of Toyland, Widow Peep (Florence Roberts) is an old woman about to be evicted from her home by the evil Silas Barnaby (Henry Brandon) unless her mortgage is paid. Barnaby is willing to overlook the matter and offer her the deed in favor of being honored for having her daughter, Bo-Peep (Charlotte Henry) as his bride. Bo-Peep loves Tom Tom Piper (Felix Knight, dressed like Peter Pan), and will have nothing to do with him. Stanley Dumb (Stan Laurel) and Oliver Dee (Oliver Hardy), a couple of toy-makers who take up room and board in Widow Peep's home, attempt to help by asking their employer, the toy master (William Burress) for an advance in salary, but because Stanley confused Santa Claus's (Ferdinand Munier) order 600 toy soldiers at one foot high, thus giving him 100 toy soldiers at six foot high instead of 600 soldiers at 1 foot high, they both get fired, and must come up with another solution in rescuing Bo-Peep from the clutches of Barnaby.

A memorable score by Victor Herbert, only a few were selected for the screen, including: "Toyland" (sung by Virginia Karns); "Don't Cry, Bo-Peep, Don't Cry" (sung by Felix Knight); "The Castles in Spain," "Go to Sleep, Slumber Deep" and "The March of the Toys (Wooden Soldiers)." Some reissue prints retitled MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS eliminate Mother Goose's opening of "Toyland" as she opens the "Babes in Toyland" storybook and introduces it main characters in song: Little Bo Peep who lost her sheep; Tom Tom the Piper's Son; The Little Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe (Widow Peep); Silas Barnaby, "the meanest man in town"; Hi Diddle Diddle, The Cat and the Fiddle; Three Little Pigs: Elmer, Willie and Jiggs; and finally Stanley Dumb and Oliver Dee, "they love to sleep as you can see;" along with the "Go to Sleep" number, having recently been restored on both video and DVD distributions ranging from colorized to original black and white photography. The musical interludes are not overdone yet capture the mood of the story. In fact, more than half of Victor Herbert's original score has been cast aside in keeping the story to average length (79 minutes).

Charlotte Henry, who starred in Paramount's fantasy to Lewis Carroll's now forgotten screen adaptation of ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Paramount, 1933), is ideally cast as Bo-Peep. Had fate taken a different turn, one wonders if Henry would have succeeded playing Dorothy in THE WIZARD OF OZ had the L. Frank Baum story been brought to the screen about this time instead of 1939? It so happens that TOYLAND and OZ are similar in nature. They are both set in a mythical land; Silas Barnaby and the Wicked Witch are evil individuals who bring fear to those around them; Barnaby is assisted by hideous Bogeymen while the Witch has her flying monkeys; Laurel and Hardy are do-gooders similar to the Tin Man and the Scarecrow; and finally Toyland citizens bursting into song. Unlike most fantasies of this sort, BABES IN TOYLAND is not one extended dream sequence from which the leading character awakens back to reality as did Dorothy at her farm in Kansas following her Technicolor experience in the land of OZ. This is Toyland from start to finish, with a touch of Disneyland as one of the citizens of Toyland looking very much like Mickey Mouse!

While as Dee and Dumb, Laurel and Hardy perform their roles in their usual traditional manner, but minus their trademark derbys. Their key scenes include having them sneaking into Barnaby's home to retrieve Widow Peep's deed only to get caught, thanks to Stanley, and being sentenced to public dunking in a pond of cold water (only Ollie gets the treatment) and thrown out of Toyland into Boogeyland forever (the same fate later set for Tom-Tom accused of pig-napping Elmer, thanks to Barnaby); their participation in Barnaby's wedding, as well as the grand finale where the toy soldiers are brought to life from the toy factory in their war against the bogeymen with Stan and Ollie's ammunition of darts fired from the cannon. Great march formation and still photography outdoes any computer technology today since more effort was put into this sequence alone. Cartoon violence is the essence here, especially when Ollie falls victim to it in the Wile E. Coyote tradition, but not to the extreme.

More Laurel and Hardy than Victor Herbert, BABES IN TOYLAND is geared for children and adults alike, especially adults who watched this annually on television during the Christmas when they were kids themselves since the 1950s. In recent years, TOYLAND aired on American Movie Classics (1994-1996) and finally Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: December 24, 2012, with original theatrical title intact). Remade theatrically in 1961 by Walt Disney Productions, then again as either television movies or new theatrical adaptations in later years, it's the 1934 original that appears to live on happily ever after. (***1/2)
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Best of Laurel and Hardy
aesgaard4121 February 2001
I know this movie better as "March of The Wooden Soldiers," but it really is one of, if not the, best of Laurel and Hardy. Somehow cast as a Christmas movie (there is an arbitrary reference to Christmas in this movie, and a Santa Claus toy order is messed up), the movie shines as all of the characters in the Mother Goose tales come to life, as do the goblin-like bogey-men, but the movie's best parts shine on Laurel and Hardy's scenes. Beautiful Charlotte Henry ( fittingly enough,a former Alice in Wonderland )and Felix Knight share the rest of the movie charmingly without taking away from the duo. The songs aren't that bad either, but a special note should go to Henry Kleinbach (nee Brandon) in his portrayal as Barnaby. Plucked off the stage while doing a nearly identical role, this young actor at the time creates a more despicable role than Ray Bolger in the Disney version. In fact, Brandon lived much of his career trying to forget this role in which he was almost typecast. This is one movie that should be seen every Christmas.
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It has a great physical presence and some pretty funny stuff in it.
Hitchcoc22 March 2006
When video was much less accessible, I waited every holiday season to see this movie. I always remembered the fun stuff, especially Laurel and Hardy, but forgot some of the bad music and rather draggy dialogue. Nevertheless, the set designers did a nice job creating this nursery rhyme world, with three little pigs (one of whom gets turned to sausages), and a raft of other characters. The scenes in the toy shop with the Boys are the best. I do remember as a small child being pretty terrified of that land of the bogy men. It was well done, as are all places where "you must never go" or "where you will be banished to." Stan and Ollie do their shtick with finger wiggles and some silly game called "peewees." They attempt to save the day for the old woman who lives in a shoe. They manage to bumble everything up royally. Still, as things play out, this doesn't have the tightly knit fabric of their best comedies--they need to be on camera more. But as a holiday event, this is worth a look for a new generation.
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March to the Beat ****
edwagreen20 February 2006
Fabulous rendition of the Victor Herbert operetta.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are endearing as the two workers in the toy factory who need to help out their landlady-the old lady who lives in the shoe.

Not only can't they borrow money to help her with the mortgage, they soon find themselves out of work for making the wrong size soldier. What a blessing that will be by film's end.

Silas Barnaby, played with great contempt, by Harry Kleinbach,who in real life was a refugee from Nazi Germany, owns the mortgage. He will tear it up if he can marry the old woman's daughter, a sweet Charlotte Henry. Leave it to Laurel and Hardy to dress up the former as a bride to fool the old skinflint.

Bitter, Barnaby plots to destroy Henry (Bo Peep's) lover, Felix Knight. He plants damaging evidence proving that Knight had killed those poor 3 little pigs. Knight is condemned to Devil's Island. When Laurel and Hardy discover that Barnaby has made this mischief, all hell breaks loose. Seems as though Barnaby is really the head of the Bogey Men, a scary animal-like men hiding out on the island. To gain further revenge, Barnaby brings them out to destroy all of Toyland only to see those overly tall soldiers exact revenge.

A wonderful film for children and adults as well. The singing by Charlotte Henry and Felix Knight is wonderful. The jokes by Laurel and Hardy are as corny but delightful as ever. Great family fare.
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A personal holiday favorite
dwhite-228 December 2000
I am a huge Laurel and Hardy fan, and while this may not be considered one of their great feature length films, I love to get this out for the December holidays. After the rest of the family watches "Wonderful Life", "Scrooge" and the Nutcracker, I pull this out and laugh until I cry. The only link to the holiday is the use of the "March of the Soldiers" music - but that's enough for me. Stan Laurel's ingenious battle tactics just send me into a fit.
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Bring on the Wooden Soldiers!
zurnd9 December 2013
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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Laurel & Hardy's Greatest Operetta Film
theowinthrop22 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
There is a nice balance between the top three Laurel and Hardy feature films. SONS OF THE DESERT is their best modern film comedy - set in the 1930s. WAY OUT WEST is their sole western and wonderful as such. And BABES IN TOYLAND (a.k.a. THE MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS) is their best operetta - THE DEVIL'S BROTHER and BOHEMIAN GIRL are good, but BABES IN TOYLAND always fascinates.

It does so for several reasons: The sets are the most elaborate in any of the Laurel and Hardy features. After all it is "Toyland". We see the homes of the characters (like Bo-Peep's mother, the old woman in the shoe, and Silas Barnaby's home). We see the Toymaker's workshop and it's hundred six foot tall wooden soldiers that move (a typical L & H goof-up: Santa told them he wanted six hundred one foot tall wooden soldiers and they got the figures mixed up). We see the main square of Toyland, and the dunking pool, and the cave that leads to Bogeyland.

There are other points. Victor Herbert's music is always melodious, although to be honest the score of the Walt Disney remake actually included the words of at least one standard ("I Can't Do The Sum!") that is only heard as background music in this film version. That the tune "Never Mind Bo-Peep", although it has an elaborate chorus structure, was included instead is somewhat astounding. Still enough of the film's music in the film works - abetted by the singing of Felix Knight as "Tom - Tom, the Piper's Son".

Rosina Lawrence was always a sweet but attractive woman, and her performance as "damsel-in-distress" Bo-Peep is quite good. But the best is Henry Brandon (here Henry Kleinbach) as Silas Barnaby. BABES IN TOYLAND is one of the few Roach Laurel & Hardy features where Jimmy Finleyson does not appear (SWISS MISS is another film that lacks Finn). Charley Hall has a bit part, but nothing special (not like an appearance like in the short THEM THAR HILLS, for example). Instead, Brandon appears for his only time in Laurel & Hardy's world here - and carries it off well. Barnaby is a nasty customer - aiming his financial grasp over the Widow Peep's home to force Bo-Peep to marry him. But he constantly is being bothered by the boys. His first appearance is when Ollie and Stan are playing with some dart-like toy that knocks off Silas' hat (he naturally confronts Ollie and teaches him a lesson). They also try to steal his copy of the mortgage by a version of the Trojan Horse, which Silas doesn't quite swallow from the start. And finally they wreck his seemingly successful marriage ceremony to Bo-Peep. In truth one doesn't sympathize that much with Silas, but he certainly reacts with spirit to what the boys put him through.*

(*Laurel and Hardy fans and Our Gang fans will both know that Brandon had the experience that rarely happens - Howard Freeman had it as Himmler in HITLER'S MADMAN and later a twisted clone of the Gestapo head in the episode "The Beast That Walked the Bronx" on CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU - when four years later Roach cast him in the Our Gang short, OUR GANG FOLLIES OF 1938 as Barnaby, but now a demonic opera impresario who forces Alfalfa to sing in the street for pennies!)

Finally there are the boys, comic from the start (with them sharing a bed and sleeping, snoring a feather from one to the other in sequence). Ollie's inability to play the dart game that Stan plays perfectly causes him to insist that anything Stan can do he can do. Stan smiles and shakes his head, and starts repeating the "Earsie - Eyesie - Nosie" routine from THE DEVIL'S BROTHER (Ollie looks angry and embarrassed at this). The "trojan horse" sequence with Klein is short but very funny, with the dubious Silas accepting the gift, but discovering what's what when Stan wishes Ollie a good night (who reciprocates). This leads to the dunking stool sequence, and the odd fate of Ollie's watch. And there are other moments as well, all leading to the conclusion - the attack on Toyland, and it's defense by the toy soldiers.

SONS OF THE DESERT and WAY OUT WEST always find their audiences when shown on television or in revival houses. But BABES IN TOYLAND is the only one of the Laurel & Hardy features that regularly shows up on television at Thanksgiving time. Understandably so, as it is always welcomed by young and old alike.
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Way more than just another Laurel & Hardy movie.
Boba_Fett113813 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I expected just another Laurel & Hardy slapstick comedy but instead got something that surpassed all my expectations.

The story is absolutely great (based on the Glen MacDonough operetta) and features many well known fairy tale characters. The entire movie is set in a cheerful and colorful (atleast when you watch the colored-in version of the movie, released in the '90's of course.) world where everyone lives their simple and happy life and spend most of the time singing cheerful sappy songs. It's truly a movie that's both over-the-top and terribly outdated but that now has become a part of its charm and makes this movie a totally great and absolutely irresistible one.

All of the fairly tale like characters are absolutely great in the movie. Most of them don't really play a significant role but their presence alone is enough reason to give the movie a joyful feeling. Speaking of insignificant roles; how about the boys? Well, to be honest Laurel & Hardy don't really play a most significant role in the movie. They are mealy sidekicks in the story and even though they get to do some funny sequences, with some typical Laurel & Hardy humor, this movie is not really a slapstick or comedy. It's more a cheerful musical with some comical characters in it. It's difficult to see if the presence of Laurel & Hardy make this movie a better one or not. It isn't really a Laurel & Hardy movie and it has a totally different feel and atmosphere. Some of the fans will be delighted with their appearance in this movie, while others will perhaps be disappointed by it.

What really drives the movie is the story and its characters. The movie has a very solid villain in it, perfectly portrayed by Henry Brandon. Brandon apparently only was in his 20's when he played the role, so also lots of credits have to go to the make-up and costume department, for making him look like a scary, old, ugly, almost Scrooge like villain.

The story also really has some solid moments in it. The ending is surprisingly big and spectacular and features monster like creatures, versus an army of wooden soldiers (in certain sequences created with some early stop-motion effects), build by our two boys. Even though the movie is mostly cheerful, it also knows how to build up its tension, with as a result some really well story-wise constructed moments that all work out extremely well.

I'm going to say something very daring now but here goes; In my opinion this movie is even better than "The Wizard of Oz". Both movies are much alike in several different ways. Both movie are set in a cheerful imaginary world, with imaginary likable characters and a ruthless villain who spoils all the happiness in that same cheerful world. Let's face it, both of those movie are extremely old fashioned and outdated but the cheerful charm makes both of the movie irresistible ones, that still speak to the imagination.

This movie is a real forgotten masterpiece and the movie deserves to be better known and seen by persons all over the world. Really a movie that I truly enjoyed watching.

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Great Film
Christmas-Reviewer25 August 2016
I know many people will not watch this for many reasons. The excuses range from "I Hate Black and White Movies", "I Do Not Like Old Movies" ,"I herd this was stupid", "I never Herd of this", and so many others.

Well this film is "Dated" but its also part of its charm. This film stars "Laurel and Hardy" and it is a delightful surprise. Think of this film as the inspiration for the "Shrek" films.

In this film A woman is about to lose her home. Stannie Dumb (Stan Laurel) and Ollie Dee (Oliver Hardy), live in a shoe (as in the nursery rhyme There Was An Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe), along with Mother Peep (the Old Woman), Bo Peep (Charlotte Henry), a mouse resembling Mickey Mouse (and actually played by a live monkey in a costume), and many other children. The mortgage on the shoe is owned by the villainous Silas Barnaby (Henry Brandon), who is looking to marry Bo Peep. Knowing the Widow Peep is having a difficult time paying the mortgage, Barnaby offers the old woman an ultimatum – unless Bo Peep agrees to marry him he will foreclose on the shoe. Widow Peep refuses, but is worried about where she'll get the money to pay the mortgage. Ollie offers her all the money he has stored away in his savings can, only to learn that Stannie has taken it to buy peewees (a favored toy consisting of a wooden peg with tapered ends that rises in the air when struck with a stick near one end and is then caused to fly through the air by being struck again with the stick). He and Stannie set out to get the money for the mortgage from their boss, the Toymaker (William Burress). But Stannie has mixed up an order from Santa Claus (building 100 wooden soldiers at six feet tall, instead of 600 soldiers at one foot tall) and one of the soldiers, when activated, wrecks the toy shop. Stannie and Ollie are fired without getting the money.

I don't want to tell too much more but truest me the film is fast paced and its never boring.

Give it a try!
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Laurel & Hardy's BABES IN TOYLAND is to Hal Roach Studios as what THE WIZARD OF OZ is to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
redryan6422 December 2007
Christmas comes but once a year. Of course we think of Frank Capra's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), which until recently had been thought to be in public domain. It was subject to almost constant showings. From Thanksgiving until New Year's, it was run on any channel and was. (We even remember seeing it run on 2 channels, simultaneously!)

Well, due to some technicality concerning the music's not being out of copyright straightened out that Public Domain business. But that, Schultz, is another Story!

Other Seasonal Favourites include: WHITE Christmas (1954), Christmas IN CONNECTICUT(1945), A CHARLIE BROWN Christmas (1965), HOW THE GRINCH STOLE Christmas (1966), Jean Shephard's A Christmas STORY (1983), MEET JOHN DOE (1941)*, GOING MY WAY (1944)*, THE BELLS OF ST. MARY'S (1945)* and Charles Dickens'A Christmas CAROL (all versions).

One film that makes its appearance with out any fanfare each Yuletide is BABES IN TOYLAND aka MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS (Hal Roach/MGM, 1934). The Musical Fantasy, based on the Victor Herbert Operetta, first performed on October 13, 1903. Its premiere was at the Majestic Theater, on Broadway in New York City. Much of the music that was retained for the film was very well known to the general public.

The Movie of BABES IN TOYLAND takes the characters of Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle Dee, prominent in English literature even before being featured in Lewis Carroll's ALICE IN WONDERLAND; and transforms into Stannie-Dumb & Ollie-Dee. It was a near perfect adaptation; putting Laurel & Hardy right in the story, both as Mother Goose type characters and in their familiar roles.

OUR STORY……The Boys have jobs working in the Toy Factory and share the rental of a room from Mother Peep (Florence Roberts), who is a Widow and lived in a huge Shoe and had so many Children, etc. Her eldest child, Bo-Peep (Charlotte Henry, Woo,woo,woo,woo!) has the job of tending the sheep, which she continually looses. After "playing hard to get", she agrees to marriage with Tom-Tom, the Piper's Son (Felix Knight). All of Toyland is jubilant at the announcement. That is, except for one citizen.

Lecherous, dirty old man type, Silas Barnaby (Henry Brandon) is the old miserly guy who is desirous of Bo-Peep, and has unsuccessfully proposed marriage to her. But, the "Crooked Little Man, who lives in a Crooked Little House" also holds the now overdue, subject to foreclosure Mortgage on Widow Pep's house.

The Boys attempt to help Mother Peep both in trying to borrow the money from their stern and crabby boss, the Toymaker (William Burness) and in an unsuccessful attempt to steal the Mortgage agreement from Barnaby's house.

Rather than see Stannie-Dumb & Ollie-Dee face punishment and to save her Mother and family from eviction, Bo-Peep agrees to nuptials with Barnaby. With help of Stan & Ollie, Barnaby is fooled (he didn't know that the highly veiled Bride was really Laurel!), but he frames Tom-Tom, who faces punishment of "Banishment to Bogeyland". Bogeyland's being a cavernous wasteland populated by the Bogeymen (or 'Boogiemen', if you please!) They are monstrous, half beast-half man, vicious, wild creatures; who turn out to be followers of, you guessed it, Silas Barnaby! In the finale, after Stan & Ollie rescue Bo-Peep & Tom-Tom, Barnaby leads the Bogeymen in the invasion an sacking of Toyland; until Laurel & Hardy turn the tables by using "The March of The Toys" and some hereto for useless Toy Soldiers.

BABES IN TOYLAND (or MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS) successfully touches all the bases and hits the ball right out of the ball park, a Grand Slammer! As a Christmas story, as Family Viewing Fare, as a Musical and of course, as a Laurel & Hardy starring vehicle it cannot be beat! The Laurel & Hardy bits of business just roll out naturally, without any slowing of the story. And we are treated to a vast array of the great Comedians' best stuff; what, with Stan's prowess for a sort of "stick ball game" ("Peewees") and some references to bits of comic business from previous pictures.

Producer,Mr. Hal Roach, Sr. did an excellent job of assembling a supporting cast featuring many a veteran of the old silent comedy days, like Old King Cole (Sennett veteran Kewpie Morgan), Chief of Police (Billy Blecher) and Townsmen (Sam Lufkin, Ham Kinsey & Roach Studios regulars, Baldwin Cooke & Charlie Hall). Additionally we see veteran "B" film actors like: Stanley "Tiny" Sandford, Frank Austin, Richard Alexander, Jack "Tiny" Lipson, Virginia Kams, Marie Wilson, Jean Darling and many more.

We must take notice of our Bo-Peep,Miss Charlotte Henry the young, delicate, beauty of a starlet, who regrettably made only about 30 films; opting for early retirement. Her screen persona was so sweet and sexy, even! (What a "dirty old man" I have become!) The music is all Victor Herbert, but for short quotations from Disney's "Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf"; as the Three Little Pigs and a couple of additional characters added were "The Cat and the Fiddle's" foil, a Monkey dressed as Mickey Mouse! If you see it on Broadcast, Cable or Satellite TV, you're stuck with whatever the format that is being shown. If you rent or buy a DVD or VHS, check its running time to make sure that it isn't an abridged version, as you'll miss out on a lot.

It's a shame that this movie was not done in Technicolor, as the MGM Musical Extravaganza, THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) would be 5 years later. This is one time where I could approve of the "Colorization", which has been done to some VHS & DVD editions are; for the effect is one of its being a Gigantic Story Book. And, that's exactly what it is, Schultz!

NOTE: * Strictly speaking, these 3 are not Christmas pictures, but do come to their endings at Christmastime; but,so does NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955).
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Victor Hebert + Mother Goose = Big Screen Operetta
romanorum12 January 2013
Old King Cole … Little Miss Muffett … The Cat and the Fiddle … Little Jack Horner … Mother Goose. And Tom-Tom loves teenager Bo-Peep, who keeps losing her sheep. Mother Goose characters inhabit Toyland, as do Stannie Dumb (Stan Laurel) and Ollie Dee (Oliver Hardy). Stan and Ollie are toy makers who rent a room in the shoe of the widow Peep. Meanwhile, creepy landlord Silas Barnaby – played with a relish by Henry Kleinbach (Brandon) – is especially angry because Bo Peep, widow Peek's daughter, has rejected his marriage proposal. The spurned and lecherous Barnaby then comes to evict the Peeps from their shoe house, as he is armed with their overdue mortgage payment. With mean Barnaby it is either marriage with Bo-Peep or eviction. In a blundering way Stan and Ollie try to come to her aid, hoping to borrow the funds from their boss. But they are fired from the toy factory because they messed up Santa Claus' order of 600 toy soldiers one-foot tall. They made 100 soldiers six-feet tall; the soldiers are stored in the toy warehouse.

Stan and Ollie again get into trouble as they try to thwart sleazy Barnaby's continuing evil designs; and Ollie is punished by being dunked in the village pond. Yet they are ultimately successful in preventing Barnaby's marriage to Bo-Peep. And they uncover the real kidnapping of Elmer, one of the three pigs, to the schemes of Barnaby (who had blamed Tom-Tom). In revenge Barnaby, all-along in league with the monsters of underground Bogeyland, unleashes his demons against the inhabitants of Toyland. Utilizing their large darts to good advantage, Stan and Ollie are Toyland's prime defenders. But the evil forces make headway, and Barnaby carries Bo-Peep away. Then the boys remember the soldiers, and in a climatic scene enlivened with a rousing musical score . . . Well, watch it and find out. It's worth the time! The Stan and Ollie version of Victor Herbert's Babes in Toyland remains unequaled, whether in black and white or colorized. The sets are great, the story entertaining, and the songs nicely done. For those who are young or for those who think young. Recommended.
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Great Holiday Viewing for the Entire Family!
Chance2000esl23 December 2007
This is Laurel and Hardy's best feature because they portray their trademarked characters as the central focus of a lavish, well told story. The entire film is a pleasure to watch from start to finish. It's even better colorized. It has some good musical numbers like 'Toyland,' 'Castle in Spain,' 'Never Mind, 'Bo-Peep,' and the one in the cave that used to put me to sleep; you even hear 'Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?' in the background in a Three Little Pigs scene.

This movie passes my Test of Time Test: I watched it with my 8 and 10 year old grand children-- they were hypnotized throughout, really enjoying and laughing at Laurel and Hardy's comedy, and were appropriately scared by the sight of the bogey-men. This movie is perfect for anyone who is exactly eight years old (or who ever has been).

We get Ollie's famous finger wiggles, Stan's plays on words, and a little edgy content for adults when Stan, disguised as Bo-Peep, marries Barnaby and does his pinched face cry, when he realizes he then has to stay with Barnaby, "But I don't love him!" Later, when Ollie says that Stannie gets along with Barnaby, he replies, "But that was before we were married."

I give this film a 10. It makes great holiday viewing for the whole family. It's such a wonderful showcase for, and introduction to (for new viewers) the great thirties films of Laurel and Hardy. My grand children wanted more. Then it's off to 'The Music Box' (1932), 'Towed in a Hole' (1932), 'County Hospital' (1932), 'Busy Bodies' (1933), and 'Dirty Work' (1933).

Note for Barnaby fans: Henry Brandon reprises his 'Barnaby' role as an Opera Impresario in the all-singing all-dancing 'Our Gang Follies of 1938' (1937). For a 'change of pace' he plays the lead in the good Republic serial 'Drums of Fu Manchu' (1940) as Fu Manchu himself! Go, Henry!
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Barnaby steals the show!
stevenfallonnyc1 June 2006
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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Every Christmas I waited & waited for it on TV.
breadman813 June 2007
"100 six foot toy soldiers or 600 one foot toy soldiers?".......

"It's neither pig nor pork, it's beef"

Every little kid needs this video. It's a fundamental of child rearing. How can you go wrong with Laurel and Hardy fumbling and bumbling before saving the day? Will anyone still love Quentin Tarantino eighty years from now? Two essential holiday movies. Get this one at Christmas (& 'Miracle on 34thSt.') plus 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' at Halloween. Anyone know were the boys were in their careers when this one was made? Certainly they were in Hollywood. The boogiemen "have "GREAT BIG EYES" and "GREAT BIG TEETH" and....Hey !!!"
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Still a Great Movie
dmann8024 November 2005
I have read some of the other comments about this movie and it seems some think it is a childish movie and doesn't do justice to Stan and Ollie. If you ever saw this movie as a youngster, you would not think so. I remember it in black and white back in the sixties and the first time I saw it, it was scary to see the bogeymen and Barnaby's twisted demeanor. I still watch it and I am fifty years old. It almost takes me back to those younger days when life was more simpler and there weren't so many worries. For a little over an hour it is a welcome escape and as far as I am concerned, it is as much a part of Thankgiving as turkey dinner. I can really relate to the toymaker's attitude after years of working and surely we have ALL met enough real life Barnabys and that is what makes the movie still very entertaining and amusing. So I urge you all that while that turkey is cooking to kick back and be a kid again for just a little while.
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Babe(and Stan)lost in Toyland
wsureck9 November 2002
Marvelous set design almost makes-up for tedious plot and super 1930's-style sentimentality. Not enough Stan and Ollie for my taste, and too many dull musical numbers and much padding with what should have been the lesser characters. The boys seem secondary again, as occured with their several operetta movies. The razor thin story of the lecherous Barnaby trying to steal-away Bo-Peep from the virginal TomTom made me thank-goodness for the fast-forward ability of the DVD format!

The film is really more of a fantasy than a comedy, so don't expect much L & H fun-making. I fail to see the child-like charm of some of the scenes: there are some ugly scenes of equally ugly Bogeymen writhing with pain as they run about with several darts hanging from their bodies, and Barnaby looks like a pervert and molester as he clutches the barely legal(?)screaming BoPeep.

Amazingly, I think the colorized and digitally restored version enhanced the the viewing experience for a film that should have been filmed in color in the first place(I don't praise colorization lightly; normally I despise it).

All these comment come from a big fan of the boys...sorry they were so wasted in some of their later films.
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A Thanksgiving Tradition at our House!
thejcowboy2229 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
My personal favorite movie featuring Laurel and Hardy.Every Thanksgiving morning I watch This classic while preparing the Thanksgiving meal for my guests. Usually WPIX in New York shows this movie every Thanksgiving Day since I could remember. Stan and Ollie are bumbling toy makers in the town of Toyland and reside in old widow Peep's(Florence Roberts) Shoe with their bedroom around the high top section. The evil Silas Barnaby played to perfection by Henry Brandon owns the deed on the shoe and must have the back mortgage money or he'll throw them out in the street.Ollie asked Stanley for his money box but instead of finding money there's a piece of paper that reads IOU from Stannie Dumb. Stan claims he spent all his money on Pee Wees. Ollie tells the woeful Widow Peep not to worry. He'll get the money,advance from his Boss the Toymaker cause there just like that! Well the boys arrive to work late and the boss is in a foul mood. Spilling paint and the fouling up the Wooden Soldiers order and having one of the six foot soldiers march up and down destroying the shelves was the end of their toy making careers. Meanwhile Bow Peep and Tom Tom frolic around Toyland singing,losing and then finding their sheep. The Evil Barnaby will let the widow stay if Bo Peep excepts his hand in marriage.Then Barnaby would agree to rip up the deed to the shoehouse. Stan and Ollie have other plans. Stan puts Ollie in a box wrapped up for Christmas as they deliver it to Barnaby's house hoping when Barnaby goes to sleep Ollie would come out of the box and rip up the deed.Stan says "Goodnight Ollie." and their failed attempt would make the Trojan Horse Blush.Ollie and Stan are punished and must be dunked. Dunking scene is hilarious as Ollie goes in for a cold dip. Bo Peep orders the dunking to stop and excepts Barnaby's hand in marriage in front of a stunned crowd. The wedding of Bo Peep and Barnaby is an event not to miss.When the comedy reaches a fever pitch singing numbers are performed by Felix knight (Tom Tom) to let you catch your breathe. This idea taken from Stan Laurel as to give the viewer a rest bud in the high paced comedy of the moment. What always stayed with me was the Mister Sandman, Gnome scene as Tom Tom sings a lullaby to Bo Peep.This all leads up to the grand finale with Boogeymen invading Toyland as Stan and Ollie activate the Wooden soldiers which always is an eye opener and heartwarming sight. Just a great child fantasy captured on film to share with future generations and Thanksgiving mornings to come.
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No More Toying Around.
ExplorerDS67896 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is the story of Toyland, a whimsical little world where all of Mother Goose's nursery rhymes too place, and where many of the character reside. Three Little Pigs, Red Riding Hood, Little Jack Horner, Cat and the Fiddle, all of them. Mickey Mouse lives there too. Children laugh and play all day, it's a happy place. But there is one dark area in Toyland in the form of a man. A mean old grouch named Silas Barnaby, who would give Ebeneezer Scrooge a run for his money. Ol' Barnaby holds the mortgage on the shoe in which the old woman with so many children lives, and unless her daughter, Little Bo Peep, will consent to become his wife, he'll throw them out into the street. Barnaby makes several attempts to woo Miss Peep, but she tells him to get lost, and in response, he scares away her sheep. So as poor Mother Peep wonders what to do, her boarders, Ollie Dee and Stannie Dumb come downstairs, or rather, Stannie falls out the upstairs window. She tells them about her financial situation, so Ollie steps in and gives her his savings...which Stannie had "borrowed" to buy some more peewees. Ollie promises he'll get the money from their master, the Toymaker, and the two leave for work. Unfortunately the surly Toymaker wasn't in the mood to chit-chat because the boys were late again, and matters were not helped when they spill a can of paint all over him. Meanwhile, Bo Peep has lost her sheep and doesn't know where to find them. Tom Tom, the piper's strapping, handsome young son comes to her aide as they ask around and finally locate the little woolly beasts. Bo Peep is certain she's found the man of her dreams. Back at the toy factory, Santa Claus arrives to pick up a very special order: 600 toy soldiers, one feet high. Unfortunately for him, Stannie took the order and thought it was 100 soldiers 6 feet high. The life-sized toy soldiers nearly destroy the factory and cause Stannie and Ollie to lose their jobs.

Things looked pretty bad for the Peeps, who stood to lose their shoe. Barnaby again made the offer that if Bo marries him, he'll forget the mortgage. Deciding to try and get the better of that old buzzard, Ollie has another plan: he puts himself in a crate and has Stannie deliver him to Barnaby as an early Christmas present, then once he's inside the house, he'll steal the mortgage. Barnaby is actually touched by the gift and all goes swell, until Stannie ends up giving it all away. So now the two of them are placed under arrest for burglary. They'll be publicly humiliated by "ducking" and then banished to Bogeyland. Yeesh, Toyland's got a very strict penal system. I'd hate to think what they give to murderers. Bo manages to get them released by reluctantly agreeing to marry Barnaby, and so Old King Cole pardons the boys. Little Bo Barnaby. Nah, doesn't sound right. But Stannie and Ollie won't give up so easily. They pull yet another elaborate trick on Barnaby, and this one works. They pull the old switcheroo and Barnaby ends up marrying Stannie. Bo and Tom Tom go off together, while Barnaby grumbles about being made a fool of. Time to pull off a dastardly deed of his own: he kidnaps Elmer, one of the three little pigs, then plants his hat and some sausage links in Tom Tom's house, framing him for both pig-napping and murder. The poor lad is then exiled to Bogeyland, despite having an alibi, but the king won't listen. Stannie and Ollie smell a rat when nibbling on the sausage, discovering it to be beef. They follow their hunch and find Elmer in Barnaby's cellar. The monster rushes off and King Cole puts out a 50,000 guinea reward for his capture. Meanwhile, Bo Peep has ventured off to Bogeyland to find her beloved, and they soon find themselves surrounded by those ferocious creatures. Stannie and Ollie come to their rescue and they all escape together. Unfortunately for them and everyone else in Toyland, Barnaby is in league with the Bogies. In fact, I'll bet he's their leader, who shaves off his fur and pretends to be a person. In other words, Barnaby leads a whole army of Bogiemen to lay siege to Toyland. Utter chaos ensues as residents try to fight off the monsters, or hide from them. Stannie and Ollie try hold them off using throwing darts, and Mickey Mouse drops small bombs on them. When this isn't enough, they bring out the big guns: the wooden soldiers! Once activated, the entire legion of 6-foot toy soldiers counter the Bogey attack, sending those monsters retreating. Stannie and Ollie decide to load some darts in a cannon for a parting shot, but unfortunately, it was Ollie, not the Bogeys, who got it in the end.

So, I guess they all live happily ever after. Barnaby was probably crushed to death by those falling blocks, Stannie and Ollie were deemed heroes, and Bo Peep and Tom Tom got married. Maybe. If you're a Laurel and Hardy fan as I am, I definitely recommend this feature. I watch it every year at Christmas time. Well made for a Depression era piece. It's not perfect, but I think it's pretty enjoyable. See it when you can.
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TheLittleSongbird2 March 2014
A Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy classic, and a great sentimental favourite. Whether Babes in Toyland is among their best is up for debate but when it comes to personal favourites of theirs Babes in Toyland is very high up. Of the four films with the title Babes in Toyland, this is by far and away the best and the only great one. The others being the 1961 Disney film, which is decent but one of their lesser live-action musicals, the 1986 Drew Barrymore/Keanu Reeves film which had its moments but most of it was pretty messy and the 1997 animated film which as I recall was only okay but a re-watch is due asap. Laurel and Hardy certainly don't disappoint. Their antics and jokes are a sheer delight, corny at times but in an endearing way, and they look so animated. And thankfully they don't swamp the supporting cast. Henry Brandon is particularly good and sinister as the villain Barnaby, and Charlotte Henry and Felix Knight are charming with wonderful singing voices, thankfully they don't drag things down which is a tendency with star-struck lover roles and subplots. William Burress is winning as the kindly toy-maker too, if not quite as memorable as Ed Wynn in the Disney version. The costume and set design are colourful and brings the inner child within you, like a fantasy world that you don't want to leave. The photography is equally nice and the effects have their acceptable charms, by today's standards they're not all that cheap. Victor Herbert's score and songs are not among his best but they are pleasant and memorable, the incidental scoring has the right amount of whimsy and Toyland and March of the Wooden Soldiers are deservedly the highlights of the songs. The dialogue is tight with plenty of jokes to enjoy, and there is a real sense of joy, fantasy and enchantment in the story that the other Babes in Toyland films don't quite manage, well the Disney film did but the 1986 film didn't. March of the Wooden Soldiers was the highlight and cleverest moment of the Disney film and it is every bit as memorably staged here. The Boogeymen are still frightening now. This version is the best directed by a mile, the film actually goes at a good pace(the Disney film had a few dull stretches while the 1986 film never really came to life as well as being indifferently directed) and is directed by people who clearly knew what they wanted to do and had enthusiasm for it. All in all, timeless for children and for adults. Those who like the operetta will be enchanted and will cherish this as the best version, and even if it is a little different to what Laurel and Hardy usually did even Laurel and Hardy fans can find much to enjoy(some die-hard fans will disagree, just for the record I've always liked Laurel and Hardy a lot). 10/10 Bethany Cox
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The Toyland dummies
Petey-1022 March 2000
Stannie Dum and Ollie Dee are the toy makers in toyland.Toyland is a fantasy town, where there are lots of great characters, like three little pigs.Stannie and Ollie have to get money to old man Barnaby, or he marries the beautiful miss Little Bo-Peep. Babes in Toyland is a great Laurel and Hardy comedy.There are lots of great actors in the movie.Charlotte Henry is cute as Little Bo-Peep, Felix Knight is nice as Bo-Peep's sweetheart and Henry Brandon is great as the evil Barnaby.The movie has many memorable moments, like when Stannie marries Barnaby.And there are some great musical numbers in it.You gotta see the movie.
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Ron Oliver23 December 1999
This is one of Laurel & Hardy's best endeavors and an excellent holiday family film. Although they have no musical numbers, Stan & Ollie do very nicely in this adaptation of the Victor Herbert operetta.

Much money was obviously spent on this film. The make-believe world of Toyland comes alive before our eyes, with many characters from Mother Goose (including the old lady herself) and classic fairy tales weaving in and out of the story. Even Santa Claus makes an appearance. That "crooked man who walked a crooked mile" - Silas Barnaby - makes a good, nasty villain and the finale with the Bogey Men is a real treat.

(Trivia: Hal Roach arranged with Walt Disney for 4 of Disney's cartoon characters to appear "live" in this film, which explains what Mickey Mouse and the 3 Little Pigs are doing here. Also, if you listen carefully, you'll hear Disney's Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf woven into the Herbert score.)
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From the first time
sscialli16 January 2019
I saw this movie on the small screen and like the other holiday staple "Wizard of Oz", this became an anticipation during the Thanksgiving Season! It was so much fun to watch, the ingenious way Laurel and Hardy thwarted Barnaby was just the best! Featuring all the nursery rhymes come to life was just spectacular movie magic! It's the best you can see and feel by the incredible Laurel and Hardy at their best!
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