Gilbert Speaks on the 1934 Babes in Toyland

30 Dec


Growing up in South Philly, my generation was treated to such classic comedians as The Three Stooges, Abbot and Costello and Laurel and Hardy, but it was Laurel and Hardy that I preferred watching the most. The other day I heard a song playing on television. It was the tune for the March of the Wooden Soldiers, but I don’t know what they were selling.


I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, but it instantly brought to mind one of my favorite movies. “Babes in Toyland” was based on the Mother Goose nursery rhymes, but who made this film one of my all-time favorites were Mr. Stan Laurel and Mr. Oliver Hardy. Meet me after the jump.

Stan Laurel (1890-1965)

Born Arthur Stanley Jefferson, Stan Laurel was an English comic actor, writer, and film director. Born in in Cumbria England, Stan’s parents were both active in theatre. This is probably where he got his love of performing. He joined Fred Karno’s Troupe where Arthur understudied for Charles Chaplin.


He made his first movie “Nuts in May” in 1917 which led to more films which introduced him to Babe (Oliver) Hardy in the 1921 film “The Lucky Dog” Stan and Oliver began to work more as a team after joining the Hal Roach Studios. Their work together was magical and they became not only best friends but one of the best comedy teams. It is said that Stan had a nervous breakdown after Oliver’s death.

Oliver Hardy (1892-1957)

Oliver Hardy was born in Harlem Georgia. His father was a lawyer who died when Oliver was ten months old. His mother supported the family by running a successful hotel. Oliver was already singing and performing in minstrel shows at the age of eight. In 1913, he became a comedy actor with the Lubin Company in Florida and began appearing in a series of shorts. Oliver was famous for his childishly bossy persona.


His black hair that was always combed forward and that little mustache made Oliver quickly recognized as did his dark bowler hat. His famous line in every film to friend Stanley was, “Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.” Oliver appeared in over 400 films. His favorite pastime was a game of golf. Both men are on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Babes in Toyland

The film is a Laurel and Hardy musical released in 1934 and produced by Hal Roach. It was directed by Gus Meins and Charles Rogers. The film is also known as the March of the Wooden Soldiers. Although the film was based on Victor Herbert’s operetta, the film differed from the play. Stan Laurel played the part of Stannie Dum and Oliver Hardy played Ollie Dee and they both lived is an old shoe with Mother Peep, Bo Peep (Charlotte Henry), a monkey dressed like Mickey Mouse, and lots of children.


Mother Peep was behind in the mortgage to Silas Barnaby (Henry Brandon) a wicked and greedy man who forces Mother Peep to give Bo’s hand in marriage. To protect Bo Peep from Silas Barnaby, the boys go to their boss, the Toymaker (William Burress) for help…But as is normal in any film with Stan and Ollie, Stannie has made a horrid mistake with the order from Santa. Instead of six hundred wooden soldiers at one foot each, Stannie Dum made one hundred soldiers and each one was six foot tall. They are both fired and try to come up with a plan for Bo Peep to be with her true love, Tom, the piper’s son (Felix Knight).


Almost every Mother Goose character is in this story including Mother Goose (Virginia Karns). When Barnaby summons an army of Bogeymen to capture Bo-Peep, this is when Stannie and Ollie use the wooden soldiers to win the day. It’s an old film, that’s true, but there is something magical about this story that stays with me even into my granny years.


The world we live in today is extremely high tech, but no matter how far we travel into space, or how advanced our weapons become, there is nothing like the march of the Wooden Soldiers to get my heart beating with expectations that in the end… our fairytale world will not be blown to smithereens by a hand to eager to start a war. I’ve included the film for you to enjoy. Happy New Years.



4 Responses to “Gilbert Speaks on the 1934 Babes in Toyland”

  1. Dawn Byrne December 30, 2016 at 2:06 am #

    Never saw this, but heard of it. Thank you for sharing this. Nice write up.

    • gilbertspeaks December 30, 2016 at 2:32 am #

      Dawn, I included the entire movie towards the end. you will love it

  2. reresramblings December 30, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

    Why can’t they put these shows back on!😕

    • gilbertspeaks December 31, 2016 at 12:06 am #

      They do on Turner Movie Channel and you can find them on YouTube, but it would be nice to see these old shows more often

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