The most lavish feature built around Laurel and Hardy, 1934's March of the Wooden Soldiers is also the most bizarre. Opening unpromisingly with one of several mawkish numbers derived from Victor Herbert's musical Babes in Toyland, the antics of toyshop labourers Stannie Dum and Ollie Dee are worked into a scenario midway between Lewis Carroll and The Brothers Grimm. Nursery-rhyme characters come and go in a surreal fantasy, with the evil Mr Barnaby threatening to evict Widow Peep from her shoe unless he receives her daughter Bo in marriage. The movie culminates in a full-scale invasion of Toyland by the yeti-ish Bogeymen and their defeat by the 100 six-foot wooden soldiers that Stan and Ollie have built by mistake. Henry Brandon gives a characterful performance, while 1930s child star Charlotte Henry is an appealing heroine. Directors Gus Meins and Charles R Rogers milk the slapstick to an increasingly unnerving degree. Reputedly Hardy's favourite among the double act's features, March of the Wooden Soldiers emerges now as their most audacious screen appearance. On the DVD: March of the Wooden Soldiers on disc reproduces the original black and white print in 4:3 ratio with pristine clarity; the mono soundtrack has similarly worn well. The potted biographies of Laurel and Hardy are too brief to be worthwhile, but the inclusion of the 1915 short Hustling for Health--among the earliest of Stan Laurel's film appearances--is a valuable bonus. --Richard Whitehouse
A selection of the comedy duo's films.... Lucky Dog (1921) Be Big (1931) March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934) Flying Deuces (1939) Utopia (1950) their appearance on This Is Your Life (1952) and Laurel and Hardy at the Movies.
When his wife is believed dead after seven years missing at sea, a dashing attorney marries again only to have his first wife return on his honeymoon night.
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