Continuing Christmas movie week, I’m now going to present to you 2 films that turned out NOT to be Christmas movies at all, much to my disappointment. But I have now spent time watching 2 movies and so I must tell you about them because I have run out of time to find a 3rd one.

Babes in Toyland has been filmed many times and certainly has the reputation of being a Christmas movie. The song “Toyland” and “March of the Wooden Soldiers” appear on many Christmas music playlists. One version features a sort of Christmas wedding at the end. One version I watched does feature Santa Claus. The movie appears on many annual Christmas watch-lists. But neither version that I watched struck me as being at all Christmas-like.

Still, I enjoyed them both as something to watch during quarantine. They were a good distraction and the 1961 Disney version definitely fills a void if you are missing Disneyland/Disneyworld right now.

The Disney version is the one I watched first. The casting is all classic Disney players like Tommy Sands, Annette Funicello (who was so famous in 1961 she was just billed as “Annette”), Kevin Corcoran, and Ed Wynn, plus Ray Bolger plays the villain and I did not recognize him at all! The sets, costumes, choreography and dancing are excellent and worth watching if you are a Disney fan. I enjoyed Annette’s song “I Can’t Do The Sum”, which is comical and well done if you don’t mind how dated it is. Disney’s version of the song “Toyland” is presented well into the movie and is not the best version I’ve heard. It did not feel like Christmas at all. Ed Wynn as the toymaker is funny and I enjoyed his scenes. The March of the Wooden Soldiers at the end is boring, but the very end is the very brief Christmas wedding scene and some nice dancing in the snow. The 1961 film is currently streaming on Disney Plus or you can rent it on Amazon.

The original 1934 version starring Laurel and Hardy is available to stream free on Amazon Prime, both in black and white, and a separate version that is colorized and goes under the title March of the Wooden Soldiers. I watched the black and white one. I think I recall seeing this one on TV as a child and being somewhat scared. The characters can be kind of creepy and Santa’s costume is just awful. The film opens with a beautiful recording of the song “Toyland”, but the Christmas feeling ends there. Nevertheless, I thought the acting was well done, and Laurel and Hardy along with many of their castmates really did make me laugh out loud. In this film, Santa has placed an order for toy soldiers but Laurel and Hardy mess up the order and the toy soldiers turn out to be giant-sized. But despite Santa’s presence, it’s just not a Christmas movie.

Try these out and see if you agree with me. And at least they are a nice escape from quarantine. What do you think?

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