March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934)

march of the wooden soldiers poster 1934 movie laurel hardy babes in toyland
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Nice looking movie, fun Laurel & Hardy

Bad story

 
Movie Info

Movie Name: March of the Wooden Soldiers

Studio: MGM

Genre(s): Musical/Family/Seasonal

Release Date(s): December 14, 1934

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

march-of-the-wooden-soldiers-soldier

Oh no…a whole bunch of human-size wooden soldiers accidentally made…I hope that doesn’t come in to play later on

Silas Barnaby (Henry Kleinbach) uses his money, power, and greed to try to get Bo-Peep (Charlotte Henry) to marry him.  Bo-Peep is engaged love to Tom-Tom (Felix Knight) and when Tom-Tom is accused of murdering one of the Three Little Pigs, it is up to Stannie Dum and Ollie Dee (Laurel and Hardy) to prove he’s innocent and save Toyland from the evil Barnaby.

Based on the Victor Herbert’s operetta, March of the Wooden Soldiers was originally released as Babes in Toyland and is sometimes just known as Wooden Soldiers or sometimes even Laurel and Hardy in Toyland, Revenge is Sweet and directed by Gus Meins.  Part of the reason for all the name changes to the title was to trick viewers into thinking they were seeing a new Laurel and Hardy movie on each release.  The movie became a staple of the holiday season and is often seen in a colorized version.

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This creepy mouse looks strangely familiar

The story of March of the Wooden Soldiers (and Babes in Toyland) was never quite as interesting as it could be.  The idea of a place where nursery rhyme characters all lived is interesting.  Current series like DC Comics’ Vertigo title Fables or TV series Grimm and Once Upon a Time took the idea and really developed it into a story, but the Babes in Toyland story always seems underdone.  It feels like there is just too much thrown into the story with Barnaby, Bo-Peep, Tom-Tom, the Toymaker, Santa Claus, the Bogeyland, and in this version, the antics of Laurel and Hardy.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy however make this version stand out among the other version because of their typical Laurel & Hardy sense of humor.  There is a lot of goofy word play, etc. that fans have come to expect and combine that with some physical humor and it makes March of the Wooden Soldiers more enjoyable than some of the versions of the overdone story.

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Say what you will, I think Barnaby and the Bogeymen are creepy

The cinematography on the story is quite good and Meins has a bit of German expressionism mixed in with the early talkie movie making it a kind of interesting viewing.  The actual battle between the wooden soldiers and the bogeymen is kind of creepy and the bogeymen remind me of the little jumpy moon men in George Melies early Trip to the Moon.

March of the Wooden Soldiers is something that was probably on a lot for adults when they were growing up (much like It’s a Wonderful Life, it seemed to run continuously on some channels).  That being said, it seems like no one really sat down and watched it.  It isn’t a bad movie and is an interesting snippet of the times.  It is also should be noted that one of the characters appears to be an early Mickey Mouse rip-off (with a little bit of Ignatz and Krazy Kat mixed in…he hits the Cat & the Fiddle in the head with a brick).  Check out March of the Wooden Soldiers instead of Disney’s bigger budget 1961 Babes in Toyland.

Related Links:

Babes in Toyland (1961)

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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