on November 21, 2006
March of the Wooden Soldiers has always been a holiday favorite of mine and thus I was saddened when the local NY stations stopped featuring the film on Thanksgiving. Interested in obtaining the best available version of the film, I first purchased the recommended Goodtimes and Passport reissues of the film. A few days later I came upon the most recently released Legend edition. On Sunday I compared the three DVDs.
No question, while I at one time might have agreed with earlier reviews claiming the Passport B&W version as the most accurate representation of the film, and the Goodtimes version as the best of the color incarnations, they both have now been blown out of the water with this latest Legend package. First, the Legend package includes both restored B&W and colorized versions of the film. In both cases the transfers are crisper, brighter, present higher detail resolution and are cleaner overall. In B&W the detail of Barnaby's coat, Stannie's legging patches and all graphics have been enhanced. The compromise might be the bit of edginess that goes along with such detail enhancement but overall its a small price to pay. As for the colorization, the detail resolution will have you marveling at a nuance in new color detail not even remotely evident in the Goodtimes edition. Second, well a better deal is just a better deal!
In short, Legend lives up to its name here. Anyone interested in slightly used Goodtimes and Passport DVDs? Please?
It is sad that Laurel and Hardy fans in North America have been given the short end of the stick for so many years.The rights to all of their shorts(both silent and sound)and their movies(specifically the Hal Roach catalogue)have changed hands more times than I would care to count.It is a sorry legacy of greed,neglect and indifference.Well,I'm happy to report that we finally have something good to celebrate for a change!
MGM studios has taken the proverbial bull by the horns and have elected to release their own print of "Babes in Toyland".Yes you heard me,NOT "March of the Wooden Soldiers"(the slip case cover title) but "Babes in Toyland".This release has the original opening and closing titles;and it is marvellous to look at.
It is a beautiful print and the best looking release of the movie I have seen.There have been alot of pretenders to the throne over the last while,some pretty pathetic ones at that,but finally we get to see the film as close to its' original release state as we can get.The original was 90 minutes long and while seen only occasionally in the early TV years it was eventually pared down to the length we have here,about 78 minutes.And that is the version we have had unfortunately for decades.
MGM caught me totally off guard with this one,but I won't complain in the least because I'm just so happy to finally see it out there.I AM worried a little though that by putting "March of the Wooden Soldiers" on the cover that many fans may give it a pass by thinking it is just another version among many of that film.
It begs the question though,how many more Laurel and Hardy features do MGM hold?They were the distributor for Hal Roach and if they have this movie in their archives it makes some sense that they would possibly have the original full length version and many others,if not all their movies AND shorts.Unfortunately,not holding the rights to their films,there is little MGM can do but sit tight.
Whatever the answers,we must thank MGM studios for taking the initiative and releasing this charming film,for all the Laurel and Hardy fans here in North America and in the best condition I've seen.Let us give MGM the "Laurels" they deserve and our "Hardy" endorsement by buying the most definitive version to date
of the Laurel and Hardy classic "Babes in Toyland".
Without a doubt Legend Films/Genius Entertainment has given us the best DVD version of "March of The Wooden Soldiers" I've ever seen. The newly restored black and white version is truly amazing and the picture quality is spectacular. The restored black and white version is why I bought this DVD from Legend Films. I've never been in favor of colorizing a classic movie like "March of the Wooden Soldiers" but after watching it in color all I can say is wow! The colors are positively vibrant and they add a new dimension to the overall viewing experience. Legends black & white DVD version beats Passport's version hands down and blows Goodtimes version out of the water. This DVD version is packed with tons of extra's.
DVD Features :
-Original theatrical trailer
-Christmas trailer gallery
-Bonus animated movie: rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
-Rare laurel & hardy short film
-The ultimate holiday bonus package including: Christmas toyshop, 'twas the Night before Christmas, Merry Christmas cartoon, classic toy commercials, vintage holiday film rarities
Legend Films presents "MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS" (Released 14 December 1934) (77 mins) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) --- now in COLOR and Glorious Black and White --- Babes in Toyland (re-released in 1948 as March of the Wooden Soldiers, alternative titles Laurel and Hardy in Toyland, Revenge Is Sweet, Wooden Soldiers) is a 1934 musical comedy film starring Laurel and Hardy. Based on Victor Herbert's popular 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland, the film was produced by Hal Roach, directed by Charley Rogers and Gus Meins, and released to theatres on November 12, 1934 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Under Gus Meins (Director), Charles Rogers (Director), Hal Roach (Producer), Frank R. Butler (Screenwriter), Nick Grinde (Screenwriter), Francis Corby (Cinematographer), Art Lloyd (Cinematographer), Victor Herbert (From Musical by), Harry Jackson (Musical Direction/Supervision), Howard Jackson (Musical Direction/Supervision), Glen MacDonough (Songwriter), Bert Jordan (Editor), William Terhune (Editor) - - - - The 1934 version likewise features most of the characters in the stage version, but, again, an entirely new plot --- The film featured only five musical numbers from the enormous stage score, though that was plenty for a musical with only a 78-minute running time. Included in the film, in the order in which they were performed, were "Toyland", "Never Mind Bo-Peep", "Castle in Spain", "Go To Sleep (Slumber Deep)", and "March of the Toys", an instrumental piece and perhaps the most famous number in the score --- Almost all of the songs were performed by Bo Peep and Tom-Tom and none of them were performed by Laurel and/or Hardy (though they briefly danced/marched to "March of the Toys") --- the performances still hold up well in this day and age.
the cast includes:
Stan Laurel ... Stannie Dum
Oliver Hardy ... Ollie Dee
Charlotte Henry ... Little Bo-Peep
Felix Knight ... Tom-Tom Piper
Henry Brandon ... Silas Barnaby (as Harry Kleinbach)
Florence Roberts ... Mother Widow Peep
Virginia Karns ... Mother Goose
Marie Wilson ... Mary Quite Contrary
Johnny Downs ... Little Boy Blue
Richard Alexander ... King's Guard
1. Stan Laurel (aka: Arthur Stanley Jefferson)
Date of Birth: 16 June 1890 - Ulverston, Cumbria, England, UK
Date of Death: 23 February 1965 - Santa Monica, California
2. Oliver Hardy (aka: Oliver Norvell Hardy)
Date of Birth: 18 January 1892 - Harlem, Georgia
Date of Death: 7 August 1957 - North Hollywood, California
In 2006, the complete print was restored and colorized by Legend Films, using the latest technology --- Although the Legend Films release was advertised under its reissue title, both the color and black and white prints featured the original title and opening credits --- Both colorized versions correctly depict Stan's hair as being auburn, not medium brown as it appears in other colorized Laurel and Hardy movies.
Laurel and Hardy were an American-based comedy duo who became famous during the early half of the 20th century for their work in motion pictures --- The members of the duo were the thin British-born-and-reared Stan Laurel and his heavier American partner from the state of Georgia, Oliver Hardy --- The pair are considered among the most famous and finest double acts in cinema history --- Each brought talents from his solo career to the team.
The two comedians worked together briefly in 1919 on The Lucky Dog released in 1921 --- After a period appearing separately in several short films for the Hal Roach studio during the 1920s, they began appearing in movie shorts together in 1926, and Laurel and Hardy officially became a team in 1927 --- They became Hal Roach's most famous and lucrative stars --- Among their most popular and successful films were the features Sons of the Desert (1933), Way Out West (1937), and Block-Heads (1938); and the shorts Big Business (1929), Helpmates (1932), and their Academy Award-winning short, The Music Box (1932).
The pair left the Roach studio in 1940, then appeared in eight low-budget comedies for 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer --- From 1945 to 1950, they did not appear on film and concentrated on their stage show --- They made their last film, Atoll K, in France in 1950 and 1951 before retiring from the screen --- In total, they appeared together in 106 films --- They starred in 40 short sound films, 32 short silent films and 23 feature films, and in the remaining 11 films, had a guest or cameo appearance. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Legend Films can restore, colorize and release many of the classic earliest black and white films --- a patented coloring and remastering process makes each film picture perfect plus more vivd than ever --- no one can resist collecting every title that Legend Films releases.
Hats off and thanks to Barry B. Sandrew Ph.D. (Founder, COO & CTO) and his Legend Films Staff --- looking forward to more high quality releases from the vintage era of the '20s, '30s & '40s --- order your copy now from Amazon where there are plenty of copies available on DVD --- if you enjoyed this title, why not check out Legend Films where they are experts in releasing long forgotten films and treasures to the collector.
Total Time: 77 mins on DVD ~ Legend Films. ~ (11/07/2006)
This 3D colourized version is beautiful and with a 3D television is a joy to watch. The colours look great and still somehow preserve the classic feel of the film. Without exaggeration this is one of the best looking 3D movies I've seen, even counting more recent ones. I've seen that some people are upset about this not being the B&W version, but I've watched both and there is very little difference (77mins for this version versus 79 minutes for the other) between the two. Nonetheless if you want there is a DVD version that has both the colour and black & white versions also available through the same distributor. Unless you're a film purist though, this version is just fine, and looks fantastic.
For those unfamiliar with the film, this movie is a mash-up of fairy tales and numerous other material, all done as a great fantasy/comedy with Laurel and Hardy, two of the most hilarious actors of their time. This movie is both a great holiday film and a classic feel good fantasy film that delivers lots of laughs and really takes you back to being a kid with its great sense of imagination. For those like myself who feel that CGI is terribly overused and often makes movies look less rather than more realistic, it is refreshing to see a film like this with so many imaginative and fun costumes. It also has a breathtakingly beautiful soundtrack, sung by some truly talented people. I first saw this as a kid on a classic movie station and then forgot about it for years until seeing it again recently on TV at Christmas time. I immediately went online and found this version and ordered it. I was not disappointed.
This is a definite must for any holiday movie fan, film buff, and anyone who enjoys classic comedies. This movie is still timeless almost a hundred years after its release, and is a great one to add to your classic/holiday film collection. They did a great job with this version, and I highly recommend it.
on April 8, 2004
What a pleasure to find March of the Wooden Soldiers in glorious black & white! This Passport Video release (listed by Amazon as Koch Entertainment for some unfathomable reason) presumably contains the full-length version (77+ minutes) and is of very high quality. Audio is nice clear mono, and the video is just fine--flicker occurs occasionally, but nothing major and the images are sharp with good contrast. One is easily able to navigate the chapters and can scan in either direction and pause, which sometimes isn't the case with budget DVD's. It would be nice if subtitles were available (I have foreign-born friends who like to "see" and hear English simultaneously), as well as a printed list of chapters, but these are minor quibbles. A bonus short of the boys' first screen appearance together is also included and is lots of fun.
As much as I detest colorization of black & white classics, both in principle and for aesthetic reasons, I've read so many favorable reviews of the colorized version of this film that I'd be willing to give it a shot, especially considering its price. One reviewer wrote that she remembers seeing a hand-tinted print of this film at the movies when she was a child in the 50's, so clearly there's precedent. It would be nice to get a choice of both on one disk--maybe something along this line will turn up eventually. In the meantime, my recommendation is that first-time viewers see it the way audiences in 1934 saw it and then move on to "color" if so inclined. Either way, this is a fabulous film--it's about time justice was done to it, but better late than never. Thank goodness I no longer have to depend on the whims of local TV stations with their edits and commercials to watch one of my holiday favorites.
on February 17, 2004
Few films in history achieve the rank of a beloved family classic, enjoyed anew by each succeeding generation. "March of the Wooden Soldiers", based on Victor Herbert's famed 1903 operetta, "Babes In Toyland", is one such timeless masterpiece. The greatest comedy team in films, Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy, star in this elaboarate musical fairytale of innocence and optimism.
The boys are Stannie Dum and Ollie Dee, hapless employees of Toyland's toy factory, who room in Old Mother Peep's shoe. Faced with eviction by they evil Silas Barnaby (Henry Brandon. Credited as Harry Kleinbach), Mother Peep (Florence Roberts) needs to raise her mortgage. But the boys' plan to get the money from the Toymaker (William Burress) goes awry. It seems Santa Claus (Ferdinand Munier) ordered 600 wooden soldiers one foot tall. But, unfortunately (as fate would have it), Stannie took the order. And the result is 100 soldiers six feet tall. The boys are fired.
An attempt to steal the mortgage from Barnaby's house ends in the boys being found guilty of burglary. Sentenced to be dunked and exiled to Bogeyland forever, the charges are dropped by Barnaby when Bo-Peep (Charlotte Henry) consents to marry him, although she is in love with Tom-Tom the Piper's son (Felix Knight). Tricked into giving up the mortgage with a bogus wedding, Barnaby gains revenge by pignapping one of the Three Little Pigs, and planting the evidence in Tom-Tom's house. Stannie and Ollie discover the ruse.
Chasing Barnaby into Bogeyland, they rescue Tom-Tom and Bo-Peep. But Barnaby leads the Bogeymen to destroy all of Toyland. In the thrilling finale, Stannie and Ollie activate the wooden soldiers. And to the strains of the majestic "March of the Toys", rout the Bogeymen and save Toyland.
A spectacular entertaining film, with familiar music, high production values, and charming performances by the much loved Laurel & Hardy, "March of the Wooden Soldiers" is a must for any video collection. One of the truly great movies of all time.
on January 14, 2004
Good Toy Soldiers that march around and whack Bogeymen!that's what you'll find in this epic of Stan-liness and Ollie-Folly.The final sequence is as terrifying as the siege of Gondor
in Peter Jackson's Return of the King!It's scary when you see the Boogiemen burst in the door and carry all the citizens off.
There's no General Gandalf to rally the troops,only Stan and Ollie. They repel boarders using peewee darts, zeppelins, cannons and six foot tall wooden soldiers!Barnaby is such an evil villain,that looks kind of like a werewolf Bogeyman!The special effects are good too,like invisible little gnomes,that look like Gimli,Horrifying bogeymen that look like orcs with good costumes,and a Toyland village that probably took as much work to make as Hobbiton! Then you've got two little characters,Bo-peep and Tom-Tom, who are very much in love,but are threatened by the evil Silas Barnaby and mean Toymaker who says,"What was that?!?",when asked for money to pay off the mortgage owed by Peeps Mother to Barnaby,so that Peep won't have to marry Silas!Simple,isn't it?But Stan and Ollie will endure duckings in the pond,darts,Bogeymen,and even the big man himself,to make sure Tom and Peep live happily ever after!See this movie without delay or you are a fool of a Took!
on April 9, 2003
In their third film opera spoof.Stan And Ollie bring their unique comedy to fairyland and we're all the better for it.Here they not only fit into the Mother Goose fantasy motif'but they're also able to bring their unique approach to spoofing man's foilbels and maintain their childlike demenors.The plot of "March Of The Wooden Soldiers"(The film was originally released by Hal Roach Studios and MGM in the late fall of 1934 as "Babes In Toyland!")has the evil and lecherious mortage holder:"Silas Barnaby"(Henry Kleinbach Brandon)forcing "Mother Peep"(Flo Roberts)to have her daughter:"Little Bo Peep"(Charolette Henry)marry him as an alternitive to prevent "Barnaby"from evicting the members of "The Peep"household.When the poor old matriach is unable to pay her mortage bill.But "Stannie Dum & Ollie Dee"(L&H)spoil the villian's plans.When "Stannie"impersonate "Ms.Peep"(Ms.Henry)during "Barnaby's"nupuals.Angered at being made a fool.The vendictive "Barnaby"pignapps One of "The Three Little Pigs":"Elmer"(Angelo Russitto) and frames "Ms.Peep's"boyfriend"Tom Tom Piper"(Felix Knight)for pignapping the little guy.After Poor"Tom Tom"(Mr.Knight)is sent to the frightening relm of"Bogeyland"."Stannie & Ollie"Realize that "Barnaby's"evidence is a fake(The string of pork sauages that was found in "Tom Tom's"house is nothing more than a string of beef hot dogs!).They search The villian's basement and find:"Elmer"a prisoner.Bringing the little guy before "Old King Cole"(Kewpie Morgan)and his subjects.The angry mob chases after "Barnaby".Who escapes down the well in his backyard(Which is a secret entrance to "Bogeyland)"Stannie & Ollie"help "Tom Tom"and"Bo Peep"(Who went after her love)escape from "Bogeyland".But "Barnaby" soon takes command of "The Bogeymen Monsters".And launches an attack on "Old King Cole's"(Mr.Morgan's)relm of "Toyland!".But "Stannie & Ollie"Foil the villian with their armies of giant size toy wooden soldiers .Who march against "Barnaby's"Armada to the strains of Vic Herbert's"March Of The Toys!".The film is filled with great songs,music, an enchanting storyline,beautiful sets(made even more charming via the new process of Colorization),lovely costumes and the beloved comedy of L&H.For those families..who need to find the perfect family film for the holidays(and for those fans of this classic holiday musical comedy film.."Babes In Toyland!"the original 1903 Broadway stage production celebraites it's 100th anniversary this year!).This is the one movie to have in you VHS/DVD Collection.Bravo Stan And Babe! Kevin S.Butler.
on September 27, 2002
Tom-Tom announces his engagement to Bo-Peep by jumping up on the stocks and proclaiming, "Citizens of Toyland! I want you all to meet, the future Mrs. Piper!" and then all the characters burst into a frenzied happy little dance to a whimsical piece of music--one of my favorite scenes in this classic adaptation of the famous Victor Herbert operetta, "Babes in Toyland".
You know, this is the kind of movie that could all too easily have been really awful: an operetta about nursery rhyme characters with, frankly, limited special effects? But instead, "March of the Wooden Soldiers" is without a doubt one of the best children's movies ever produced in Hollywood. And of course, the major reason for that is that it features the supertalented duo of Laurel and Hardy as the comic relief team who wind up the stars of the movie. They and everyone else in the movie play their roles in the sincerest possible way. That's why this movie is so good to show any child, no matter how young: there's nothing cynical in the movie, no one with a hidden nasty agenda peeking through. Sure, it can be a scary movie, alright, but meaness is punished and goodness rewarded.
Think about the wacky costumes of the bogeymen who are lead by evil Silas Barnaby to attack Toyland via raft. Rubber masks and hula skirts worn over longjohns, or so they seem. How on earth could 21st century children find that anything but laughable, with the best computer-generated villains in films today? But it just goes to show you that glitz isn't everything, because those little kids ARE freaked out still, to see the bogeymen jump down when Barnaby summons them in the cave. One of the other reviewers is right when he says that somehow this movie reaches right into childhood itself, what I would think is the German, Brothers Grimm part of childhood, of "things" under the bed. Today's creepy villains are made to frighten sophisticated adults, who've seen it all before. But that's over the head of children, really--rubber-faced bogeymen are all it takes! I think another appealing aspect is that most of the characters, even if they are all really adults, somehow seem like children pretending to be adults-that's even true of a relatively minor character like King Cole as well as for Tom-Tom and Bo-Peep, our leading man and lady. The un-bogeymen parts therefore have a sweetness to them that hearkens from very early chidhood, the kind you see in a Jessie Wilcox Smith painting. And the timing of Laurel and Hardy is perfect: they are just tops!
This movie played faithfully in the NYC area every year on Thanksgiving Day, duly followed (for some reason) by "King Kong", and I and my brothers and sisters watched it every time, from babyhood even through sullen teenage years, without ever poking fun at it; oh no, this was (and is) still held as reverentially as though it were right up there after the Bible. Not many childhood rituals can make it unscathed through adolescence, but "March of the Wooden Soldiers" did, and is now enjoyed by new generation Toddler Nephew. It deservedly lives on for each new set of youngsters, a true classic.