Babes in Toyland (1961)

babes in toyland poster 1961 movie disney
5.5 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Clean, good looking picture

Bad story

 
Movie Info

Movie Name: Babes in Toyland

Studio: Walt Disney Entertainment

Genre(s):  Musical/Family/Seasonal

Release Date(s): December 14, 1961

MPAA Rating: G

babes-in-toyland-1961-bolger

She will be mine…Oh yes, she will be mine!

Barnaby (Ray Bolger) has plans to lay claim to Mary Contrary (Annette Funicello) and prevent her from marrying Tom Piper (Tommy Sands).  When Barnaby has his agents Gonzorgo and Roderigo (Henry Calvin and Gene Sheldon) kidnap Tom and drive the sheep of Bo Peep (Ann Jillian) into the Forest of No Return, Mary is forced to marry Barnaby.  Tom returns to reveal Barnaby’s plans but is forced to join Mary in rescuing Bo Peep and her friends from the Forest of No Return…discovering Toyland and the Toymaker (Ed Wynn).

Babes in Toyland was an adaptation of the Victor Herbert 1903 operetta and directed by Jack Donahue.  It doesn’t have much resemblance to the plot of the operetta other than the basic concepts, and was one of Disney’s early ventures into a full fledged live-action musicals.  The movie did receive two Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design—Color and Best Music—Scoring of a Musical Picture.

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Mary, my sheep ran into a forest filled with rubber tree people…we’re screwed!

The movie is presented as a stage play. Mother Goose (Mary McCarty) and her goose introduce the play.  Being a play, the weak special effects can be written off…smart move Disney because some of the effects are really bad.  Sorry, the rubber trees of the Forest of No Return are not even as threatening as the trees from The Wizard of Oz.

Quality-wise however the film is shot very nicely and looks great in bright Technicolor. Occasionally the character break the fourth-wall and talk directly to the audience, but it is done so few times that it doesn’t really make sense.

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Well, at least the trees have a fun song

The biggest problems with all versions of Babes in Toyland (including the better 1934 Laurel & Hardy version March of the Wooden Soldiers), is that the story is pretty stupid.  This version is even worse.  It is almost two different movies.  The first movie is about Tom’s kidnapping, the second movie is about the Toymaker and Toyland.  There is less division in the story in March of the Wooden Soldiers and that helps it flow a bit better than this film.

Babes in Toyland is pretty typical Disney live action of the time.  The Christmas ties are severed more in this version since Santa Claus doesn’t show up like in the Laurel and Hardy version, but it still has a Christmas feel (including the snowy ending).  If you must watch a version of Babes in Toyland watch March of the Wooden Soldiers, but you can probably do better than seeing any version of the movie.

Related Links:

March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934)

Babes in Toyland (1986)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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