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 [show more]
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Laurel and Hardy inhabit the fantastic Mother Goose-based Toyland as employees of Santa Claus. Thanks to their bumbling but good-hearted efforts, Bo-Peep is saved from a disastrous marriage, her true love is spared exile and the evil Barnaby is banished forever. Oversized wooden soldiers provide the muscle. Remade twice under the title 'Babes in Toyland', in 1961 and 1986.
In MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS, Stanley Dum (Stan Laurel) and Ollie Dee (Oliver Hardy) are well-meaning but clueless toymakers in Toyland. They misinterpret an order from Santa Claus for 600 one-foot high toy soldiers, producing with 100 six-foot high soldiers instead. But their toy army comes in handy when the evil Barnaby (Henry Brandon) and his furry Bogeymen invade Toyland and capture Mother Peep's daughter, Bo (Charlotte Henry). Then it's Stanley and Ollie to the rescue in this Laurel and Hardy classic, not to be missed.