HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Piranhas
Love in the Afternoon
Black Water: Abyss
Wild Blue Yonder, The
All Hail the Popcorn King
Muriel, or the Time of Return
Selma
Great Locomotive Chase, The
American Anthem
Lion and the Horse, The
Druids
War of the Wizards
Onward
Doctor Faustus
Spite Marriage
Mask, The
Letter to Jane
Quick Millions
Dream Demon
Max Havelaar
Radioactive
Glastonbury Fayre
All Dogs Go to Heaven
Shoot Out
Da 5 Bloods
Sonatine
Kung Fu Monster
Secret Agent Super Dragon
Saint Frances
Boiling Point
Golden Stallion, The
Dragon Force
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
Luck of Ginger Coffey, The
Junkers Come Here
Ladius
White, White Day, A
Strong Medicine
Bitter Springs
Centipede Horror
   
 
Newest Articles
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
   
 
  Babes in Toyland Too twee or not too twee?
Year: 1961
Director: Jack Donahue
Stars: Annette Funicello, Tommy Sands, Ray Bolger, Ed Wynn, Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran, Henry Calvin, Gene Sheldon, Mary McCarty, Ann Jillian, Brian Corcoran, Marilee Arnold, Melanie Arnold, Jerry Glenn, John Perri
Genre: Musical, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Walt Disney produced this Technicolor musical fantasy, the most lavish of several screen adaptations of Victor Herbert’s popular 1903 operetta. The nursery rhyme themed plot previously served the Laurel and Hardy version of Babes in Toyland (1934), plus a handful of TV specials including one starring a grownup Shirley Temple. However, Disney had the script and songs reworked into a slightly twee, occasionally beguiling experience akin to a feature length parade through Disneyland.

Peeking through theatre curtains, Sylvester the talking goose (voiced by Ray Bolger) introduces Mother Goose (Mary McCarty), who invites us to the nursery land wedding of sweethearts Tom (Tommy Sands) and Mary (beloved Disney starlet Annette Funicello). Rhyme spouting, moustache twirling baddie Barnaby (Ray Bolger again) is eager to marry Mary for her money, so plans to kidnap Tom, aided by blustery fat guy/oafish thin guy comedy sidekicks Gonzorgo (Henry Calvin) and Rodrigo (Gene Sheldon). Sadly, their clowning proves a poor substitute for Stan and Ollie.

Tom’s bouffant hairdo and sub-Pat Boone crooning are similarly vexing. So it comes as a relief when Tom is conked on the head and sold into gypsy slavery, while Barnaby concocts a lie that he died at sea. For an evil encore, the villains drive Mary’s flock of multicoloured sheep into the Forest of No Return. With no source of income, poor Mary agrees to marry Barnaby. Unfortunately for him, he celebrates their impending nuptials by hiring the same gypsy song-and-dance troupe where Tom performs as a cackling drag queen. No really. Judging from his enthusiastic performance, he really enjoys it too. Don’t hold high hopes for that marriage, Mary…

Meanwhile, hoping to save Mary from marrying Barnaby, a bunch of nursery rhyme kids including Bo Peep (Ann Jillian), Boy Blue (Kevin Corcoran), Willy Winkie (Brian Corcoran), and the Twins (Marilee Arnold and Melanie Arnold), venture into the spooky forest in search of the missing sheep. Mary and Tom follow suit. Shortly thereafter the whole gang are menaced by some fantastic, scary singing trees and led to Toyland, where the Toymaker (Ed Wynn) and his assistant Groomio (Disney teen idol Tommy Kirk) are struggling to meet their Christmas deadline. Boy genius Groomio invents a delightfully elaborate toy-making machine that sadly blows a fuse. Worse, his second invention, a ray-gun able to shrink anything down to toy-size, falls into Barnaby’s hands…

Babes in Toyland emerged as one of Walt Disney’s rare box-office flops, but frequent TV screenings and a video release eventually gathered a fan-following. Enough so that the studio remade the film in 1986 starring Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reeves, prior to a non-Disney animation featuring the voices of Christopher Plummer and Lacey Chabert. Its brightly coloured storybook sets and costumes, gorgeous matte paintings and charming special effects highlight the artistry of Disney’s production team, including animator Ward Kimball who co-wrote the script. While the dance choreography is energetic, the somewhat claustrophobic staging of TV director Jack Donahue makes some a chore to sit through. The songs start out weak with the sappy “Just a Whisper Away”, but do improve reaching a highlight when Annette duets with four multicoloured mirror images on the lovely “I Can’t Do the Sums”. A charming sequence whose design recalls Alice in Wonderland (1951).

Prior to her bikini clad Beach Party movies, onetime Mouseketeer Annette Funicello was Disney’s biggest star. She and Tommy Kirk were regularly paired in childhood classics like The Shaggy Dog (1959), The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964) and The Monkey’s Uncle (1965), although Kirk merely cameos here playing second fiddle to the vapid Tommy Sands. Disney’s fondness for casting bygone character actors pays off with sprightly turns from Ed Wynn and the Scarecrow himself, Ray Bolger. The reworked script pushes Walt’s core beliefs to the fore, his utopian idealism, faith in technology and unwavering belief in upholding a strong work ethic, although cynics may characterise scenes of kids helping to make toys as reminiscent of a sweatshop.

Later on the film suddenly turns into Dr Cyclops (1940) with Barnaby terrorizing his miniaturised captives, until an army of wooden soldiers provide the stop-motion highlight. Beautifully designed, lit and edited this riot of exploding cannons, knights on horseback, Indians and toy boats, lingers fondly in the memory.

Click here to watch a clip

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 7068 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
  Hannah Prosser
   

 

Last Updated: