The 1934 classic film starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.


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Review from Variety | Reviews from fans


Review From Variety

Babes in Toyland is one of the few Laurel and Hardy films that Variety granted a favorable review. We present that 1934 review here, for your evaluation.


If Hal Roach aimed at the production of purely juvenile picture to which children might conceivably drag their elders, he has succeeded in a measure beyond others who have sought to enter this realm. He has made a film excellence for children. It's packed with laughs and thrills and is endowed with that glamour of mysticism which marks juvenile literature.

"Babes in Toyland" is as far away from the Victor Herbert original operetta as Admiral Byrd from his home port. The arithmetic song and "March of the Toys" are the only outstanding survivors of Herbert's score, and these are merely background. Two other lesser numbers used. Of the original book there is no trace at all. This is not a musical brought to the screen. It is a fairy story in technique and treatment, but a gorgeous fairy tale which gives everything to Laurel and Hardy and to which, in return, they give their happiest best. It will be a superior Saturday attraction and a scooper holiday week. Midweek night business is apt to be something else again. But"Babes" probably will get special holiday booking for four or five years to come.

Picture has a book and sticks closely to it. There is a tenuous but definite plot, simple enough to be understandable to very small children and appealing to older youngsters. Everything done has a direct bearing on the story, and all of the comedy gags are written about this thread of narrative. In this regard the film shows remarkable work. It has all the needed comedy without having to build up with interpolated slapstick. And it is amusing enough to entertain older persons who remember when they were young. It will not bore those who have to accompany their children. It possesses a pictorial quality that will appeal. At the Astor there was a large sprinkling of men trickling into the house. That may have been due to their belief they were going in to see something like the original, but once they got in they appeared to enjoy it. Children laughed freely when they were not thrilled by Bogeyland. Latter sequence is not so rough as to induce nightmares.

The story is simple. Tom-Tom loves Bo-Peep, who is one of the numerous progeny of the Old Woman who lived in a shoe. Barnaby, a miser, holds the mortgage. Bo-Peep must marry him or else. Hardy promises to redeem the mortgage, but he and Laurel get fired from the toy shop when they make 100 soldiers six feet tall instead of 600 each a foot high. For this they are punished, but Bo-Peep begs them off promising Barnaby she will marry him. Barnaby really is married to Laurel in bride's dress. He frames Tom, who is exiled to Bogeyland, whither Bo-Peep follows him. The comedians follow and help them to effect their escape. Barnaby leads the inhabitants of Bogeyland against the town, but they are saved by the oversized soldiers.

This brings a smashing climax with the soldiers marching to the strains of "March of the Toys." It gives a full five minutes of smashing action that will lift children under 12 completely out of their seats, and yet it is not so terrifying as to alarm.

Most of the action occurs in Toyland chiefly in one big set which supplies the details for the close-ups of more intimate developments. There is also one large and several smaller sets in Bogeyland, which is inhabited by ape-like nondescript. It provides the necessary contrast to the Toyland scenes.

All Mother Goose characters are woven into the plot, not to mention the Three Little Pigs, but it's Laurel and Hardy's picture. While they are on the story zips along, but the mistake has not been made of asking them to fill the stage continuously. It is their absences which make their reappearances so effective. The same Laurel and Hardy of shorts, but in fancy dress and apt to endear themselves to parents because of this effort.

Charlotte Henry, as Bo-Peep, is not always in the picture. Sometimes she looks and plays the adult. Felix Knight is the Tom, but not much in evidence until the close as the actual love making is discreetly soft pedaled. Others do not matter importantly enough to call for mention.

This picture may not be consistently big boxoffice, but it is the best juvenile product to date and deserves the long life it will have.


Originally from Variety, December 18, 1934.


Reviews by Fans

The first time I saw this wonderful film was when I was a boy about five or six years old at the Cosmo Theater on 116th Street between 3rd and 2nd Avenues in Manhattan, and the most vivid memory I have from that time is the march of the oversized toy soldiers. Later, in my teens, when it started showing up on TV as "The March of the Wooden Soldiers," I became a hooked fan. When my brother, who is almost eight years younger than I, reached an age when he could watch and understand, he watched it with me and another fan was hooked, and we watched it every Christmas. I am still hooked at 54 years old, and I will remain hooked until my death and even beyond, I assure you.

The story is wonderfully simple and brings so many figures from fairy tales and nursery rhymes to life. Moreover, my being a fan of Laurel and Hardy was another plus--indeed I must agree that this is my favorite out of all their other movies and shorts. Even my dear Yiayia, which is what we say for "Granny" in Greek, loved this film, and she was already in her mid-eighties at the time. She especially loved every instance when Stan went into his tearful yowl, and she burst out laughing and imitating it.

For me, the movie is not just something I enjoy and that rekindles the child in me, but it is also a spark for childhood memories and even a few adulthood memories linked to many Christmases past. When I was in the sixth grade, I started drawing some homemade comic books---unruled writing paper stapled together, panels drawn with ball-point pen, drawings and dialogue balloons with pencil. As I went along growing up and my drawing got better, I had my "star" characters visit Toyland twice, and a part in my plot that required the soldiers to march again, so, somewhere in this world in my possessions exist two sequels to the movie, and, maybe if I someday publish an autobiography or memoirs, all the world will share in those adventures. Those particular comic books were my "Giant Christmas Specials." That is how much the movie gripped my imagination and my very soul, and contributed to my becoming an artist and a writer.

As I was writing this, I was just watching the cartoon version of "Babes in Toyland." A couple of days ago I saw the film version with Drew Barrymore in it. Some years back I saw the Disney version. Each of those have little moments that I wish could be transplanted into the Laurel and Hardy film, but overall, none of them really come up to its standard. The cartoon manages to have a good bit of paced action in it all the way through, but the other two live-actor films are incredibly sluggish. "March of the Wooden Soldiers" carries me forward at a nice clip from beginning to end. In fact, I wish it had been longer. It has an epic quality about it, probably because it involves all the nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters, and they are part of the overall magic kingdom that is far larger than Toyland itself, though Toyland must be its capital.

If there is ever another remake, I would hope that it follows the basic plot of the Laurel and Hardy film and, above all, that it manages to imbue the story with that necessary pacing that keeps us moving from one scene to another without any moments that virtually drag us down and bore us.

By the way, this is one instance in which the colorization process not only does not detract from the movie, but adds to it. Also, the fact that the colors are a bit mindful of old color photographs imbue the movie with an antique and classic quality. A classic it is, of course!

If I were asked to make a list of movies that should always be shown at Christmastime, I would include "Miracle on 34th Street", "It's a Wonderful Life", "White Christmas", and most definitely "The March of the Wooden Soldiers" which should really have the title "Babes in Toyland" restored to it, with the "Wooden Soldiers" line as a subtitle.

May Laurel and Hardy and the Wooden Soldiers march on and on into the future as long as humankind exists!


Of all the features that Stan & Babe had performed in in their film careers.None is more charming or still maintains it's appeal with movie and tv viewers than the boys own cinema version of "Babes In Toyland!"Here in this movie version of the Victor Herbert and Glen MacDonough comic opera.Stan & Babe found a haven for their childlike characters.Where they not only fit into the relm of storybook fantasy,but they can also share the screen with the "Our Gang"kids and also use their unique approach to spoofing man's foilbels.The plot has "Little bo Peep"(Charolete Henry)forced to marry the mean and perverse morage holder "Silas Barnaby"(Henry Kleinbach Brandon).Who holds a heavy lein on "Mother Peep's"shoehouse.Thus he has control of their lives.But Stannie Dum & Ollie Dee.Two unemployed toymakers.Save the day by having Stannie impersonate Ms.Peep during Barnaby's nupuals.Later when the venegeful Barnaby tries to get even with Ms.Peep and her boyfriend:Tom Tom"(Felix Knight)by having framed for pignapping "Elmer Pig"(Angelo Russitto)and later by leading an attack on "Old King Cole's"(Kewpie Morgan's)relm of Toyland with the aid of "The Bogeymen!".Once again,Stannie & Ollie foil Barnaby with a cannon filled with pointed darts and their army of toy wooden soliders.The film has music,charm,beautiful sets,a wonderful plot and fine performances by L&H and their fellow comic/character actors and a few of the kids from "The Little Rascals".This film is the true movie version of "Babes In Toyland!"(Despite it's title change to "March Of The Wooden Soliders!")and the recent remakes done by the NBC TV Network,MGM/UA Animation studios and the forgetable remake done in l960 by Mr.Disney(Sorry Walt But no matter what you,Hank Calvin,Gene Sheldon and Annette Funicello have tried to do in your stupid phoney overraited and overdone remake).L&H's Movie version of "Babes In Toyland!"will still enchant and entertain audiences for years to come.

--Kevin S.Butler

I love this movie! I've seen a lot of movies, and I really don't know any other to compare with it. There is a lot to be said for "Wizard of Oz", but I'd rather watch this one.

Laurel and Hardy are great, which is not surprising. But there are little things about the movie that just knock me out every time I see it. The mouse throwing light bulbs or whatever it was. What was that in the mouse suit? A monkey? Or a person? Even with the flawless special effects of today, I've never seen a more interesting portrayal of a mouse.

And the pigs. They run with a funny little roll. Who did them?

The L&H bits are memorable and charming. Did anyone ever get more out of an expression directed full at the camera than Hardy? And was anyone ever as blissfully stupid as Laurel?

I sometimes try to work up a top ten list of all time favorite movies. It would include Man for all Seasons, Road Warrior, Zulu, True Confessions, My Darling Clementine, and certainly March of the Wooden Soldiers.

--Jim Gildea

I have seen Babes in Toyland when I was 4 years old, I know that I didn't understand it much, it was fun seeing all of the characters that were in storybooks, I especially like Bo-peep and Tom-Tom together, they were so sweet. I would like to see it again someday. I would like to even see the one with Annette Funicello too. I know that they are two complete different movies but the storylines are the same. Well that's what I think anyway.

--Repcie Morgana Stevenson

I first saw this film as a young boy, probably aged 6, around 1949, on our new 16" B&W TV. I remember my father saying it was a great movie and I shouldn't miss it. How right he was! I introduced it to my own kids when they were about 6. They also fell in love with it. One of my daughters (with my help) introduced it to my grandson who also fell in love with it. It has become a Christmas tradition for us and we never fail to watch it whenever it's on. We still laugh at the goings on, root for the good guys, boo the villain, Barnaby, and carry on as if we've never seen it before. My grandson's favorite part is the soldiers marching out of the warehouse with that great song playing. He even asked me to buy a CD simply because it had the "March of the Toys" as a selection. He listens to that song all year. I don't know if it's nostalgia or what, but "The March of the Wooden Soldiers"("Babes in Toyland") has to be one of my all time favorite movies. I even bought the black and white.

--Paul Gerani

Just about my favorite Stan and Ollie film. I especially love the "wedding scene" and of course the "Pee Wee" sequence. I try to get at least one child and/or one adult hooked on it each holiday season, with great success. It's a real tribute to the power of the Fellows that -- in this sophisticated age -- they're still acquiring fans.

BTW, does anyone else realize that "Old King Cole" was played by Alan Hale, Senior? Yes, "The Skipper's" dad. Check out the King's face and voice next time you see it.

--Fred Jerant

Barnaby is great as the evil one. He's too old for Mary though. I like the Disney version better with Ray Bolger as the evil Barnaby.

I have a big black top hat at home hat I wear when I feel like being evil.

--Dave R

About 200 of us kids were amazed and delighted when we saw this film in about 1950 at a school in a southern West Virginia coal camp. The principal sometimes rented 16-millimeter prints of films. Admission was 10 cents. Children who couldn't pay were quietly ushered in before the principal started the projector.

The film remains my favorite. In the 1970s I purchased a Super 8 sound version from Great Britain and showed it to my children numerous times. Still have the film.

The story struck a balance between hilarity and fright that had great appeal to us youngsters when we saw it in that darkened auditorium long ago.

When I was 20 years old I walked 5 miles through snow to see the Disney version of the operetta. I felt like a fool when it was over. But such was the nostalgic pull of the original ñ not then available except sporadically on TV ñ that I chanced it.

A final anecdote: I overheard a man returning the Disney film, "Babes in Toyland," to a video outlet. He complained the title was misleading ñ there were no "babes" in the film.

--Richard Ramella

When I lived in NYC, I studied voice with Felix Knight who portrayed Tom Tom. I was so thrilled to have known him. Thanksgiving Day always included this movie. I now live in Nashville, TN, and Thanksgiving will never be the same...I do have the memories of knowing Felix Knight, though, if not seeing Babes in Toyland...ever again.

--Lisa Carrie Margulies

I am a "Baby-Boomer" who remembers watching this wonderful fantasy film each year in the 50's and 60's at Christmas-time. Now I have a complete "colorised version" on video tape, which l watch every Christmas, since the TV stations in my area do not seem to show the film anymore.

This film ranks along with "It's a Wonderful Life", "A Christmas Carol" and "Meet Me in St. Louis" as the all-time best of Christmas movies! Thank God, these wonderful films are now all available to us who love them, on home video.

Stan and Ollie are at their best, in what must be their most popular film. Henry Brandon all but steals the show with his wonderful "meller-dramatic" Silas Barnaby!

Many fans dislike the "colorising" of the recent complete video version. I think the color job is well done, and this film cries for color!

--Randy Laing

I have just put my four year old boy to bed and came down to my computer to check in at the Laurel and Hardy website. Much to my surprise I have discovered the "Babes" site. Wow! what a list of reviews. As it turns out I have been planning to show my son Babes In Toyland this Christmas. It is as so many of you have written the best family film of all time. Growing up in New York City it was a cherished event to watch "Babes" on channel eleven at holiday time. It is full of fantasy and humanity delivered in full measure by Stan, Babe and the entire cast. The sets are magnificent, the songs are beautifully sung and the comedy by the "Boys" is hilarious. Several reviewers have made mention of the "Pee Wee." I urge you to watch the scene again. It is remarkable in the fact there are no optical tricks or effects. Stan must have practiced for hours to be able to whack those damn things over and over again with out a cut. I showed this film to my daughter when she was about eight years old. She is now fourteen and still enjoys it. There is a scene in the film when Stan put Babe in a giant box to be delivered to Barnaby's house as an early Christmas present. It is only a few short steps to Barnaby's house and when they arrive Stan knocks on the box to tell babe they are there. babe tells Stan "So far so good." Stan retorts "It wasn't so far." Well now every time I tell my daughter "So Far so good" she invariably comes back with "It wasn't so far." Thanks Stan. By the way Hal Roach said in an interview that he thought the film was terrible. Apparently Stan wanted several changes in the story line and made quite a stink about it. Hal relented but said he felt the film never lived up to his expectations. Certainly Roach knew something about film making but as time has shown us Stan knew more. And a note to Frank Meins. You I suspect are Gus's son. And you are right Gus was a great director and his talent shined brightly in this film. Well here it is late June and I cannot wait til Christmas so I can show my son the great talent of Stan and babe and yes Gus and the entire cast of this very special film.

--Haig Tufankjian

I was always a Laurel and Hardy fan and but I enjoyed this movie the most. When I was a child I saw the movie for the first time and now I can see it any time that I want to for I have it on tape. I also have a tape of Way Out West in my possession.

--Frank Sousley

In the stage version of BABES IN TOYLAND, immediately following the song "Go to Sleep, Slumber Deep," the children are attacked by a giant spider, to the same agitato music which appears after the number is sung in the film. A giant spider web appears in the film, but the spider seems to have been replaced by an awkward, unmotivated attack by Barnaby, in a brief sequence which weakens the surprise which might have been created had he just appeared with his torch in the cave surrounded by the Bogeymen. Does anyone know if an ineffectively-made special effect prop was dumped here? Looks to me like the insect was fired and Brandon had to stand in! (for trivia buffs: the spider, in the play, was fought off by a bear!) Let me know!


As a child, I can remember watching "Babes", and cheering when the "Bogey" men were beat up by the Wooden Soldiers. Years later, I still laugh at Stannnie Dum. His Facial expressions are absolutely priceless. I will always call this Film, my favorite movie of all time. I would love to find a movie poster for this. If anyone knows where I can get one, please e-mail me.

--Frank Cossentino

This has to be the greatest Laurel and Hardy vehicle of all time. The music is so memorable and the cast is outstanding, even by today's standards. Henry Brandon as the evil Silas Barnaby should have you throwing rotten tomatoes at the screen when he says "woman you're a fool!" Sixty three years after it's release, it's still as fresh, hysterical and heart warming as any movie you'll ever see. This movie is not just for kids, but for the "kid" in all of us. Heaven may have cheated us out of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, but when I get there, they will be some of the first people I look up - to thank them.

--Frank Monteleone

Definitely one of the all time great movies. It must be because of the "Outstanding Directing".

--Frank Meins

Not only are Laurel and Hardy their usual talented best, but Tom-Tom, Bo Peep, and especially Barnaby were excellently cast. My kids even liked the songs!! (no Honolulu Baby here, thank goodness!!) Two problems come to mind, though. Real life isn't like this, and I can't find a peewee at Toy's 'R' Us!!!

--Lynn Paden

This is the one I always remember watching when I was very small. Before I had seen any other L&H film I had seen Babes twenty or thirty times. I still watch it every Christmas. It never fails to bring back those warm memories of being a child.

--Barney Sheehan

I can honestly call this my favorite movie of all time! It was hillarious and had a great story. Laurel and Hardy are my favorite comedy duo, and this was the best movie they ever made. I like the uncut version where we get to see Tom Tom punch Barnaby!

--Jason Long

A classic! My all-time favorite holiday film. No film puts me in the holiday spirit like this one does. I can't wait to watch it with my 3 year old daughter this year, I'm sure she will love it.

As far as colorization is concerned, Baaaah!!! I just don't like it. It's a real pain to have to turn the color off on my TV prior to watching this gem, but that's what I'll do every time I watch it.

--Henry Rudnicki

Babes in Toyland is simply put the perfect fantasy film. The reason: as it unfolds it astounds us with mirth, music, and the stuff dreams are made of. The cast of mostly unknowns fit the characters to a tee!!! And Laurel and Hardy are delightful as the child like innocents trying to outwit the evil Silas Barnaby. Did you know that when Hal Roach contacted Walt Disney for permission on the use of the music "Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" Disney jumped right in with enthusiasm and okayed it without hesitation since he was a huge L&H fan!!! As all of us are...

--Bob Grippo

I am now 44 years old and haven't seen this movie for maybe 35 years. I have very vivid memories of it though especially of the toys coming to life and the game of Pee Wee. I had no idea that there was anyone else in the world who knew about or was even remotely interested in the movie. I had totally given up hope of ever getting the opportunity of seeing it again, thinking that there was no print available. Imagine my surprise and delight on the serendipitous experience of stumbling on this site! I'm going to make immediate enquiries on the availability of this movie on videotape. (Unfortunately in Australia we don't have laserdisc technology commercially available.) I can't wait to lie down with my 5 & 8 year old kids and share the experience of watching this classic.

--Marty Bell

"Babes in Toyland" is very special L&H film because it, like its characters, are geared towards children. My six and seven year old children (Male & Female) love the film. Of well over a thousand laserdisc titles to choose from, it remains a favorite.

I agree with your opinion of the colorized version. I personally love black & white photography but this film is surely a good excuse for colorizing. I also agree that this film is the best example of "colorizing" I've seen so far. I do wish the original black & white version was also available for comparison and authenticity. I also wish the original "Babes In Toyland" titles would have been used. At least the original storybook introduction was restored. I once purchased a Super 8 Sound print (before home video) of this title from a company in England because it included this opening title sequence and the deleted ("March Of The Wooden Soldiers") song "Go To Sleep".

I consider the laserdisc in particular to be a great collectors item for Laurel & Hardy fans. The picture and sound quality is an excellent. I only wish we could see more of this great team's work available on laserdisc. Perhaps DVD?

--Alan R. Fontaine

As a film for children, on a scale of 1-4 this film is a 5 with the Wizard of Oz as it's only serious rival. As children during the 1950's, the yearly showing of BABES IN TOYLAND during the Christmas season was as highly anticipated an event by my brother and myself as was Christmas morning itself. There is simply no more cherished memory in all of my childhood then waiting for, and watching, Laurel and Hardy in BABES IN TOYLAND. And it is still a cherished moment for myself and my children, now nearly grown themselves, as we kick off each Christmas season together with our yearly viewing of the colorized recording.

--James Faylor

Since I was a kid Thanksgiving in New York wasn't Thanksgiving without "'March". How I wished I could own the film! Well 36 years later I can and I do ! What wonderful memories when I play it over and over again! THANKS BOYS!!!

--John Cipollina

I'm not sure what to write, except that, I really enjoy this film! My family has been involved with Sons of the Desert (Blockheads tent - MN) for a long time, and I've seen A LOT of older films, not to mention plenty of L&H, and this is one of my favorites! (I could go into all the reasons why, but that would just take too long!)


Without a doubt, this is Laurel and Hardy's greatest performance. The movie is extremely entertaining, and has become practically a "cult" movie for the X-Generation. Quite possibly the greatest juvenile movie of all time. In other words...THIS MOVIE KICKS ASS!!!!

--Brandon McSherry

A little gem of the boy's many efforts to diversify from the standard deadpan they were famous for. While not perfect in any one category, it is enjoyable throughout, and belong's in any family's Christmas collection, ahead of some of the drivel existing today, and whether or not you are a Laurel & Hardy groupie. Also makes for a nice twist on the many different versions of the Nutcracker that seem to keep getting more and more popular each Holiday season. And finally it IS one of those rare kids films that adults can sit thru and maybe even enjoy in part or whole.

--Bob Roehrer



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