Babes in Toyland

Babes in Toyland

4.5 2
Director: Jack Donohue

Cast: Jack Donohue, Ray Bolger, Tommy Sands, Annette Funicello

     
 

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This second film adaptation of the Victor Herbert operetta "Babes in Toyland" was producer Walt Disney's Christmas offering for 1961. The 1903 Herbert original had very little in the way of a plot, so screenwriters Joe Rinaldi, Lowell S. Hawley, and Ward Kimball lifted elements from the 1934 filmization of Toyland, which starred Laurel and Hardy. AnnetteSee more details below

Overview

This second film adaptation of the Victor Herbert operetta "Babes in Toyland" was producer Walt Disney's Christmas offering for 1961. The 1903 Herbert original had very little in the way of a plot, so screenwriters Joe Rinaldi, Lowell S. Hawley, and Ward Kimball lifted elements from the 1934 filmization of Toyland, which starred Laurel and Hardy. Annette Funicello plays Mary Contrary, about to wed Tom Piper (Tommy Sands) in the heart of Mother Goose Village. The villainous Barnaby (Ray Bolger), who covets Mary for himself, orders his bumbling henchmen Gonzorgo (Henry Calvin) and Roderigo (Gene Sheldon) to do away with Tom. Hoping to turn a profit, Gonzorgo and Roderigo sell Tom to a band of gypsies, enabling Tom to make a surprise return-in old-lady drag to rescue Mary from Barnaby's clutches. Later, Mary's younger siblings (including Disney regular Moochie Corcoran) wander into the Forest of No Return, compelling Tom and Mary to go after them. Everyone winds up in Toyland, where they try to help the Toymaker (Ed Wynn) and his invention-happy assistant Grumio (Tommy Kirk) meet their quota for Santa Claus despite the continued meddlings of Barnaby. Keep an eye peeled for 11-year-old Ann Jillian, making her screen debut as Bo Peep.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Young children tend to enjoy Babes in Toyland immensely, but older viewers find it rather tough going. Certainly, there are assets for everyone, starting with the sterling Victor Herbert score, which -- even in the "contemporized" version heard here -- is full of melodies that soar gracefully and land with just the right lilt upon the ear. Toyland also has some delightful costumes, and the look of the fairy tale characters is a treat. Though the sets are a bit too artificial, they're undeniably colorful and eye catching. And the climactic "March of the Toy Soldiers" sequence is quite fun to watch. And visually, director Jack Donohue has found some imaginative ways to capture the environs on film. But the picture never comes together the way it should. The story is really nothing but a sketch, there's no real menace to the villain, the tone is fudged constantly, the pieces don't hang together and -- most damagingly of all -- no one but the very young really cares about the characters or what happens to them. Of the cast, Ed Wynn is a lot of fun, but Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands are flat and dull as the young leads. Tommy Kirk has some good moments, which is more than can be said for Henry Calvin and Gene Sheldon, given the unenviable task of competing with the memory of Laurel and Hardy in these roles in a much better earlier version. Ray Bolger tries very hard, but making this villain a comic character is the wrong decision, and ultimately even Bolger's skill can't keep the character from becoming tiresome. In the end, the biggest problem with Toyland seems to be that its creators didn't really believe in it -- and so all their hard work to make it magical instead just makes it mechanical.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/11/2012
UPC:
0786936831085
Original Release:
1961
Rating:
G
Source:
Walt Disney Video
Region Code:
ABC
Presentation:
[Color]
Time:
1:46:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ray Bolger Barnaby
Tommy Sands Tom Piper
Annette Funicello Mary Contrary
Ed Wynn Toymaker
Tommy Kirk Grumio
Kevin Corcoran Boy Blue
Henry Calvin Gonzorgo
Gene Sheldon Roderigo
Mary McCarty Mother Goose
Ann Jillian Bo Peep
Brian Corcoran Willie Winkie
Marilee & Melanie Arnold Twins
Jerry Glenn Simple Simon
John Perri Jack-be-Nimble
David Pinson Bobby Shaftoe
Bryan Russell The Little Boy
James Martin Jack

Technical Credits
Jack Donohue Director
George Bruns Score Composer
Edward Colman Cinematographer
Walt Disney Producer
Lowell S. Hawley Screenwriter
Victor Herbert Songwriter
Ward Kimball Screenwriter
Mel Leven Songwriter
Tom Mahoney Choreography
Joe Rinaldi Screenwriter
Robert Stafford Editor
Bill Thomas Costumes/Costume Designer

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