Day 22 of The 25 days of Christmas Movies Marathon Countdown..... And next up is a classic in the Truest sense of the word.
To me growing up in NYC nothing screams Holiday movie like "March of the Wooden Soldiers" starring Laurel & Hardy. Originally Released in 1934 as "Babes in Toyland" it was re-released several times with a different title to make it seem to audiences that they were going to see a different film. Then it surfaced as a holiday movie on TV with the name "March of the Wooden Soldiers" it became A holiday staple on many television stations throughout the US. In New York, it ran on WPIX channel 11, as March of the Wooden Soldiers, and still runs on WPIX in daytime on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Matter a fact, March of the Wooden Soldiers has run more times than the nationwide network runs of The Wizard of Oz, It's a Wonderful Life, and A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Set in the mythical land of Toyland, Widow Peep (Florence Roberts) is an old woman about to be evicted from her home by the evil Silas Barnaby (Henry Brandon) unless her mortgage is paid. Barnaby is willing to overlook the matter and offer her the deed in favor of being honored for having her daughter, Bo-Peep (Charlotte Henry) as his bride. Bo-Peep loves Tom Tom Piper (Felix Knight, dressed like Peter Pan), and will have nothing to do with him. Stanley Dum (Stan Laurel) and Oliver Dee (Oliver Hardy), a couple of toy-makers who take up room and board in Widow Peep's home, attempt to help by asking their employer, the toy master (William Burress) for an advance in salary, but because Stanley confused Santa Claus's (Ferdinand Munier) order 600 toy soldiers at one foot high, thus giving him 100 toy soldiers at six foot high instead of 600 soldiers at 1 foot high, they both get fired, and must come up with another solution in rescuing Bo-Peep from the clutches of Barnaby.
Directed Gus Meins and Charles Rogers, is a musical fairy tale based on a 1903 operetta. The story was perfect for the comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in what's considered to be their very best and highly acclaimed adaptation taken from an operatic work, thanks to its fine script, comedy material and notable storybook characters brought to life on the screen. In spite of Stan and Ollie having to take time away from the screen in favor of plot development, musical interludes and romantic subplot, even appearing nearly ten minutes from the start of the story, the movie, overall, succeeds. Henry Kleinbach's portrayal of the Evil Barnaby is perfect on so many levels.
"March of the Wooden Soldiers will always have a special place in my heart and in the memories of my childhood. I remember it was always shown on Thanksgiving Day after the Macy's parade and I would watch it with my Father, Uncle and Grandmother. It's a timeless classic that passes my Test of Time Test: I mean, I have shown this film to every younger family member of mines and they were hypnotized throughout, all enjoying and laughing at Laurel and Hardy's comedy, and were appropriately scared by the sight of the bogey-men. This movie is perfect for anyone young or old.