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Babes in Toyland (1961)

Approved | | Comedy, Family, Fantasy | 14 December 1961 (USA)
Trailer
1:41 | Trailer
Tom the Piper's Son is about to marry Mary Quite Contrary. On the eve of their wedding, evil miser Barnaby hires two henchmen to drown Tom and steal Mary's sheep, cared for by Little Bo ... See full summary »

Director:

Jack Donohue

Writers:

Victor Herbert (operetta), Glen MacDonough (operetta) | 4 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ray Bolger ... Barnaby Barnicle
Tommy Sands ... Tom Piper
Annette Funicello ... Mary Quite Contrary (as Annette)
Ed Wynn ... Toymaker
Tommy Kirk ... Grumio
Kevin Corcoran ... Boy Blue
Henry Calvin ... Gonzorgo
Gene Sheldon ... Roderigo
Mary McCarty ... Mother Goose
Ann Jillian ... Bo Peep
Brian Corcoran Brian Corcoran ... Willie Winkie
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Storyline

Tom the Piper's Son is about to marry Mary Quite Contrary. On the eve of their wedding, evil miser Barnaby hires two henchmen to drown Tom and steal Mary's sheep, cared for by Little Bo Peep, thus depriving Mary and the children she lives with of their livelihood, forcing her to marry Barnaby. The sheep are stolen, but Gonzorgo and Roderigo, Barnaby's henchmen, double-cross him by selling Tom to a band of gypsies instead, leaving Tom with the opportunity to escape and make his way with Mary, Bo-Peep, and other Mother Goose characters to Toyland. Written by Albert Sanchez Moreno <a.moreno@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Follow Your Heart to Joyland! A Dazzling World of Song, Dance and Laughter! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the only Disney-produced film based on a hit Broadway stage musical, and the first Disney musical using mostly songs which had not been specifically written for the film. However, it is not very faithful to the original 1903 stage version. See more »

Goofs

When Barnaby, in his opening scene, closes the window shutters on Gonzorgo's and Roderigo's hands, the window sill bends as if made of foam instead of wood, so that the actors' hands wouldn't be injured. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Sylvester J. Goose: Hello, everybody. My name is Sylvester, Sylvester J. Goose. My friends call me Syl, or sometimes silly.
[chuckles]
Sylvester J. Goose: At this time, it is with unmitigated pleasure...
Mother Goose: [behind curtain] Sylvester, talk faster.
Sylvester J. Goose: Talk faster? You're lucky to find a goose who can talk at all! As I was saying, it is my pleasure to present your hostess for this occasion, weighing one hundred and eighty nine pounds...
Mother Goose: Sylvester!
Sylvester J. Goose: [scoffs] I present the one and only Mother Goose.
[Mother Goose enters]
Mother Goose: Thank you, Sylvester.
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in The Santa Clause 2 (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Never Mind, Bo-Peep
Music by Victor Herbert
Music adapted by George Bruns
New Lyrics by Mel Leven
Sung by Ann Jillian and chorus
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User Reviews

Fine if you take your cognac with water...
11 January 2004 | by benoit-3See all my reviews

I used to think 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' was the very worst experience a parent could inflict on a child. I was wrong. There is also this Disney atrocity to contend with.

When Victor Herbert produced his 'Babes in Toyland' on Broadway in 1903, it followed on the steps of the preceding stage extravaganza, 'The Wizard of Oz', which it outdid in magnificence, costliness (its shipwreck scene outdid 'The Wizard's cyclone, its Toyland outdid the other's Emerald City, etc.), imagination and original melodies. It was eventually followed by another Victor Herbert Christmas spectacle, 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' (1908), which surpassed them all in spectacular stage effects, number of participants and box office. This was a magic time when sentimental Irish Catholic New-Yorkers genuinely believed that when they went to heaven, they would hear Victor Herbert's tunes sung by angel choirs until the end of time.

Unfortunately, all of Herbert's operettas would have been totally forgotten today if it hadn't been for the awful Hollywood Laurel and Hardy vehicle of the thirties ("Babes in Toyland", 1934, a.k.a. "Laurel and Hardy in Toyland", "March of the Wooden Soldiers", "Revenge Is Sweet" and "Wooden Soldiers"), which preserved its spirit of pantomime and most of its storyline but sacrificed its music by relegating the whole score (except for five songs) to a very scratchy and noisy background on the soundtrack.

Then came Disney. This film (available on DVD) is nothing more than an elaborate episode of the Mickey Mouse Club. The story has been changed around for no reason: the only remaining common element through all the different versions is that there is a villain in Mother Goose Land named Barnaby Barnacle, who wears a tall black top hat and a long moustache, has two funny acolytes in crime and is out to prevent a happy ending for the other younger cast members. The original songs have been simplified, modernized, 'disneyfied', 'cutified', 'Lawrence-Welked' and bowdlerized almost out of existence, probably because they would have been considered too 'difficult' for the intended nose-picking kiddie audience. This is very ironic since it contributed to 'Babes' downfall at the box office and served as a lesson to Disney who did everything in his power, subsequently, with 'Mary Poppins' to provide a great score, first-class singers, great orchestration, and a nostalgic feel closer to traditional turn-of-the century entertainments.

The only reason I am not harsher on Disney's story treatment is that it was followed in 1986 by an even worse live action treacly TV version and in 1997 by the definitely dismal animated one (MGM).

'I Can't Do the Sum', whose main musical idea was that a group of schoolchildren, perplexed by a mathematical problem verging on the absurd, would punctuate their singing by scratching their chalk rhythmically on their chalkboards is now without chalkboard sounds - and logic. The forest lullaby is without its mystery and comfort. The title song, the very inspiring 'Toyland', is not even given a proper (choral) rendition but is instead screeched by a group of untalented children walking through the forest as if on their way to the washrooms of an amusement park to regurgitate their candy floss.

Even 'The March of the Wooden Soldiers' (which has managed to survive on its own as a beloved orchestral Christmas favourite in America and a Boston Pops staple) is not even given the dignity of a proper Christian burial but truncated and drowned under a cacophony of sound effects and pie-in-the-face-type slapstick.

There is nothing to salvage this mess, not even the wholehearted effort of its cast, with a special tip of the hat to Tommy Sands in a Gypsy scene (in drag) somewhat reminiscent of Stanley Donen's 'The Pirate' (1948).

The only way to hear Victor Herbert's original score today - along with Glen MacDonough's original lyrics - is to hunt for a 2002 Universal CD reprising a 1944 mono studio recording of 11 of the original numbers (still heavily truncated) and the vinyl Readers' Digest 'Treasury of Operettas' 9-LP boxset, which contains 8 numbers, in very impressive 'Cyclophonic' stereo. Conductor Keith Brion also came out with a CD of extensive dreamy orchestral extracts from this operetta (including ballets and scene changes and an extended Overture). There doesn't seem to exist a recording of the entire score which comprises, apparently, dozens of different numbers.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 December 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Babes in Toyland See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$10,218,316
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
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