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 Kirk) in the heart of Mother Goose Village. The villainous Barnaby (played by the far-from-menacing Ray Bolger), who covets Mary for himself, orders his bumbling henchmen Gonzorgo (Henry Calvin) and Roderigo (Gene Sheldon) to do away with Tom (Calvin and Sheldon are Disney's "answer" to Laurel and Hardy, and they're quite funny). 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 help the Toymaker (Ed Wynn) and his invention-happy assistant Grumio (Tommy Kirk) meet their quota for Santa Claus. It must needs be that Barnaby also shows up in Toyland; stealing Grumio's latest invention, a "shrink gun," Barnaby threatens to miniaturize Tom into nothingness unless Mary accepts his proposal of marriage. The teeny-tiny Tom saves the day by activating an army of toy soldiers to thwart Barnaby once and for all. Though lavishly and meticulously produced, Babes in Toyland lacks the essential appeal of the minimalist Laurel and Hardy version. Still, the Disney remake has a great deal going for it, including captivating stagings of such Victor Herbert compositions as "I Can't Do That Sum," "Just a Toy," "Floretta," "Castle in Spain," "We Won't be Happy Til We Get It," "Lemonade," "Just a Whisper Away," "Toyland," and "March of the Toys." Keep an eye peeled for 11-year-old Ann Jillian, making her screen debut as Bo Peep.
Side #1 -- 1. Opening Credits/Mother Goose Village [8:50] 2. Mr. Barnaby's Plot [5:34] 3. Kidnapping Tom [8:19] 4. Mary Gets Bad News [12:27] 5. Bo Peep's Lost Sheep [8:24] 6. The Gypsy Surprise [9:09] 7. The Forest of No Return [10:18] 8. Toyland [8:30] 9. Making the Christmas Deadline [9:20] 10. A New Invention [7:39] 11. The March of the Toy Soldiers [15:24] 12. The Wedding/Closing Credits [1:47]
Babes in Toyland 4.5 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
Although there are no special features on this DVD - along with it being in full-screen, I yearn for a stereo version and a widescreen edition (if that's going to be ever possible). The colors are bright and the surround sound is fabulous mono, but they obviously didn't remaster the original negative of the film as you still see specks and even occasional upper-right ''roll-change'' circles! It seems the picture is uncentered at times (that could be like the original), esp noted at the beginning credits on the right-side, along with scenes like ''Won't be Happy 'till we Get It'' at the ending.. But alas, if you're a fan of this movie for the music along with Annette, Bolger, Wynn and young Ann Jullian with a DVD player getting dusty, be sure you don't spend more than $15 here. Disney never released a soundtrack on CD for this classic (except for the old Disneyland vinal LP in the 60's), so this defdinately makes up for that.