Enjoy a happy excursion into the world of Mother Goose in Walt Disney's first musical production! All roads lead to magical, merry Toyland as Mary Contrary and Tom Piper prepare for their wedding! But villainous Barnaby wa... more »nts Mary for himself, so he kidnaps Tom, setting off a series of comic chases, searches, and double-crosses! The "March Of The Wooden Soldiers" helps put Barnaby in his place, and ensures a "happily ever after" for Tom and Mary! This joyful musical fantasy is a delightful experience for the whole family!« less
"DVD REVIEW This DVD release at the time of my review of this film adds nothing to the VHS. No Widescreen, no re-mastering, and no extras. I will keep my VHS copy for now. Now on to the original film itself:
FILM REVIEW In this 1961 film, the first true live-action musical from the Walt Disney Studio, Tommy Sands is paired up with America's girl next door who got her start with Walt Disney, Annette Funicello. Also the famous Ray Bolger and Ed Wynn are featured, and Ann Jillian was a child actor in this movie. There is more great talent from the Disney in-house stable of stars, Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran, who played brothers in both "Old Yeller" and "Swiss Family Robinson".
The story is simple enough, we are in Mother Goose land and the villain shrinks our heroes to toy size. They must enlist help from the toys in the Toymaker's shop to fight back. The effects were eye-popping at the time, and to see a toy army coming to life and fight the bad guys is a great treat for kids. The movie has some real fun stop motion style animation, where the toys are made to look like they are alive (30 years before computer animation did it for "Toy Story"). The Christmas parade at Disneyland has featured replicas of the marching soldiers from this film for over 40 years. The beautiful wooden toys that are seen in the film were all designed by veteran animator Ward Kimball. (animators X. Atencio and Bill Justice joined Ward on the stop-animation to bring the custom made toys to life).
The movie was promoted in advance on the Walt Disney television show, in a 1961 episode that also promoted "The Parent Trap", (the episode is called "The Title Makers"). The film was promoted again that year in an episode called "Backstage Party", which celebrated the completion of the film and gave the viewers a tour of the Disney Studio. The sets specially built for the film at the studio were so unique, they found a temporary home at Disneyland after the films release in '61 up to 1963, and people could actually see them up close inside the Opera House on Main Street.
The best part of this film is the music, which is the true star of any musical. The musical score features 11 songs from the in-house team of George Bruns (music) and Mel Leven (lyrics), and their score was nominated for an Academy Award.
But even with the music, great stars, incredible sets, special effects, nice costumes, the script and dialogue left a lot to be desired so the film was deemed dull for adults. Uncle Walt hated the end product, but gamely tried to promote it as best he could and use it as an exercise for the studio to learn from, as he really wanted to make a good musical. Just 4 years later he released the studios biggest live-action film ever, a musical to beat all musicals, "Mary Poppins". The lesson had worked.
Watch Babes in Toyland with light expectations, see it for the toys, Annette and the gang, and enjoy the wonderful music."
Step back to yesterday!
Rick D. Barszcz | bristol, ct United States | 08/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Granted this was filmed on a Disney Sound stage for very little money, but this movie was the brilliant work of Walt Disney himself. I was a kid when this movie came out and how impressed i was with the colors, music, story and cast. Now i'm in my 50's and this same version still impresses me. This version is timeless and the colors, music, story and especially the cast mean more to me than ever. This is a great movie for the Christmas Holiday and a walk back into yesteryear for us baby boomers. It also would be a great idea to show this to the kids of "now and "me" generation. They might learn something. The special effects were state-of-the art back then and may seem a little campy today, but this movie with it's special effects has heart,,,something that lacks in many of the new Christmas movies. This Disney version is warm, creative, visually beautiful and has a wonderful cast."
A kitschy delight - but deserves better treatment
jondog | New York, NY United States | 12/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The opening sequence alone, a colorful song and dance in Mother Goose Village Square that could only have been designed and choreographed in the early 60's, is enough to bring a huge smile to faces of those of us who fondly remember the pre-digital days of Walt Disney.
The colorful production design is sensational and reminds me of the early days of Disneyland - whimsically artificial but gorgeous to look at. Sure, the story is Squaresville, and many complain that the set is too stagey, but those are main elements of the film's lasting charm. Dated and corny to some is a cool breeze of nostalgia and simpler times for others.
I am sad that this DVD is shamefully bargain bin. Apparently someone at Disney has deemed this delightful slice of early 60's pop culture woefully insignificant, so not only is the film greatly reduced to fit on standard televisions, but there are NO special features whatsoever, a shame considering that many of the original principals in the film are still with us. Also, there was an episode of The Wonderful World of Disney called "Backstage Party", timed to promote the release of the film in 1961, featuring Walt and the cast on the set doing obviously staged but nonetheless delightful songs, dances, testimonials and stand-up routines. What a shame that no one had the foresite to include this terrific extra - or ANYTHING - on this dvd. (I had the good fortune of catching this episode on the Disney Channel late one night - so it at least exists!)
Still, there is a lot to be happy with here, again thanks to the splendiferous production design, tuneful songs and largely charming cast. Maybe someday Disney will serve up a better release of this ignored but important chapter (it's mistakes paved the way for "Mary Poppins") in the Disney story."
Classic Disney musical deserves a better DVD release!!
a | 10/11/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I give this product 3 stars because of the quality of the DVD, not the film itself. "Babes in Toyland" may not be "Snow White" or "Mary Poppins," but it was the first-ever live action musical for Disney, and it remains a well-respected classic among Disneyphiles... and deserving of something better than a cheap, poor quality FULL FRAME release with no extras at all (not even a trailer). With a colorful whismsy and imagination nothing short of "Willy Wonka" and aspirations of "Wizard of Oz", "Babes in Toyland" has always been a Disney staple, and it's simply amazing that something like "The Swiss Family Robinson" gets a 2-disc deluxe treatment while this is cast off as a cheapie release. OK, all we need is: anamorphic widescreen, some major remastering (there is grain all over the place!), the original trailer, and the only other necessary extra is the episode of Walt Disney Presents where Walt takes us backstage and behind-the-scenes... there it is, a complete 50-minute documentary already complete, edited, and paid for. Just slap it on the disc with the trailer and a remastered widescreen print, and Disney will do this classic real justice. Alas, these are simply pipe dreams, I suppose. As it stands, buy it if you want the film at all... because I seriously doubt we'll ever see another release of this classic. And that's a real shame."
Corny But Classic
Bob Siegel | Santee, California USA | 12/07/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although quite corney in places, I cannot forget the thrill I had seeing this movie in the theater as a child. Considering the time it was filmed, Babes In Toyland had wonderful special effects and plenty of Disney charm. If you can stay with it up to the time the children actually enter Toyland (about half way through) you will find that the wait was worth it. I am dissappointed that this movie didn't become more popular, but with an all star cast including Ray Bolger(the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz) as a villain this time, Tommy Kirk and Annette Funnicello of the early Disney family and timeless Christmas music from the original stage version,Babes and Toyland should be an annual tradition alongside Its a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th St."