Babes in Toyland/March of the Wooden Soldiers/Revenge is Sweet (1934)

“I thought you said 100 soldiers six feet high!”

Synopsis:
Oliver Dee (Oliver Hardy) and Stanlee Dum (Stan Laurel) attempt to rescue Little Bo Peep (Charlotte Henry) from the evil clutches of Silas Barnaby (Harry Kleinbach).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this imaginative fantasy film — which has “always been a favorite of children” but has recently “become a cult favorite of adults as well” — has much to recommend it: multiple familiar fairy tale friends; “nifty” costumes; an exciting story of good versus evil; and the wonderful comedic team of Laurel and Hardy. I agree with Peary, however, that some of the songs could probably have been cut; unlike the highly memorable roster of tunes in The Wizard of Oz (1939), Victor Herbert’s operatic arias here are sappy and instantly forgettable.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Laurel and Hardy as the infinitely clueless Dum and Dee
  • Inventive sets and costumes
  • Fun incorporation of multiple fairy tale characters into one story

Must See?
Yes, as a cult favorite.

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One Response to “Babes in Toyland/March of the Wooden Soldiers/Revenge is Sweet (1934)”

  1. First viewing – I’m rather surprised to find I hadn’t seen this one before. It’s a once-must, I think – for its place in cinema history.

    Soon after it started, I didn’t actually have high hopes for this film on an enjoyment level. It was all seeming twee to me, and a bit dated. ~though I was somewhat impressed by the fantasy nature of the project and a few things here and there made me chuckle a bit.

    What I think gives the film its overall value, though, is its second half…when things take a darker turn and afford much more excitement. The mention of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in the assessment is appropriate – but it’s not just the music that brings ‘TWOO’ to mind. ‘March’ has a number of similarities (i.e., the overall fairy tale aspect; Silas Barnaby and the Bogeymen resembling the Wicked Witch of the West and her Monkeys, etc.) even if falls quite short of being on ‘TWOO”s level.

    Favorite moment: Barnaby has been tricked into marrying a fake ‘bride’ (Stan Laurel, heavily-veiled but in full drag). After the ceremony is performed, Barnaby learns he has been fooled and storms out. Hardy informs Laurel that he will nevertheless have to stay where he is, since he is now ‘married’. Laurel replies, tearfully, “I don’t love him!”

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