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 stan laurel oliver hardy soldier

Yep…It’s a soldier…and it is wooden.

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.

Directed by Gus Meins, March of the Wooden Soldiers is a black-and-white adaptation of Victor Herbert’s 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland and has gone by that title along with Laurel and Hardy in Toyland and Revenge is Sweet.  The movie became a staple of the holiday season and is often seen in a colorized version.

I can remember March of the Wooden Soldiers frequently being on during the holidays.  Like movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and The Bells of St. Mary’s, the movie was cheap to play.  I can’t say that I ever particularly liked the movie or the story (though it does have some moments).

march of the wooden soldiers mickey mouse ignatz

Gee…that creepy-ass mouse looks oddly…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.  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.

march of the wooden soldiers barnaby boegymen henry kleinbach

Say what you will, Barnaby and the Bogeymen kind of freak me out…

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.  That being said, it seems like no one really sat down and watched it when I have asked people about 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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