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Review: March of the Wooden Soldiers – Babes in Toyland (1934)

Directed by: , | 77 minutes | , , , | Actors: , , , , , , , ,

Sheepherdess Little Bo-Peep (Charlotte Henry) lives with her elderly mother (Florence Roberts) in “Toyland” in a shoe they rent from tough businessman Silas Barnaby. Little Bo-Peep is in love with Tom-Tom Piper (Felix Knight) and to Barnaby’s anger, they get engaged. He wants to marry the lovely girl himself. Little Bo-Peep’s mother struggles to pay the rent, and Barnaby threatens to evict them unless she is able to put the amount on the table the same day or if Little Bo-Peep agrees to marry him.

Ollie says Little Bo-Peep and her mom need not worry. After all, he’s on good terms with the boss of the toy factory in which he and Stan work and will ask him for an advance. But of course everything goes wrong that day at the factory at the hands of Stan and when Barnaby’s rent to grumpy will be paid, it appears that Ollie does not have the promised amount. More complications ensue, and the only salvation is a marriage of Little Bo-Peep to Barnaby. When this goes through a ruse by Stan and Ollie, Barnaby seeks help from the “Bogeymen” in order to impose his will on “Toyland”.

It remains a small wonder how funny Stan Laurel in particular is. He doesn’t have to do so much to get a smile. With an almost laconic self-evidence, he lets things go wrong without this ever being the intention. He and Ollie have come up with a ruse à la the Trojan horse. Everything is going well and Barnaby, out of greed, has accepted the big box in which Ollie is hiding. as a ridiculously early Christmas present. Ollie can then climb out at night and steal the rent due from Barnaby. But Stan is kind enough to wish Ollie good night from the doorway and that is of course not so handy, because Ollie wishes him a good night’s sleep as well …

The sets, the inhabitants of “Toyland”, the living toys and the songs are beautiful in the style of a sweet fairy tale. A special mention deserves the living toy mouse that has been set in motion, frame by frame, and experiences small adventures amidst the greater whole. And also the performance of Harry Kleinbach. The make-up, his costume and his angular, stage-like acting make him the villain who threatens the paradise “Toyland”. A wonderful family movie.

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