On December 11th, 2012, Walt Disney’s 1961 musical Babes in Toyland came to Blu-ray for the first time with digital restoration. Babes in Toyland will make a great holiday gift this season for your Disney-loving friend or family member.
Before learning about the 1961 musical, my only experience with the story Babes in Toyland was the more recent film starring Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reeves. It has been years since I saw the 1986 version, so I was eager to see the 1961 Disney musical version.
Babes in Toyland opens with Mother Goose inviting the audience to the wedding of Mary Contrary (Annette Funicello) and Tom Piper (Tommy Sands). High up on the hill, the miser Barnaby (Ray Folger) watches the happy couple and residents of Mother Goose Land as they prepare for Mary and Tom’s special day. Barnaby knows that once Mary is wed, she will inherit a great deal of wealth; he plots to do away with Tom and wed Mary himself.
All seems to be going according to Barnaby’s plans, until he learns his henchmen double-crossed him and Tom is still alive. Babes in Toyland takes an exciting turn when Mary and Tom find themselves in Toyland and become acquainted with the quirky Toymaker (Ed Wynn).
I wasn’t sure what to think of Babes in Toyland when I first started it; I’ll admit the first half of the movie was not as interesting to me as the second half, when Mary and Tom chase after the children into the forbidden woods. Deep in the woods resides the Toymaker and his apprentice Grumio (Tommy Kirk), who were my favorite part of the movie. I was even more delighted to find out that Ed Wynn, who is Toymaker, was the voice of the Mad Hatter in Alice and Wonderland. I actually had to look this up while watching because I’d recognized his voice and knew he was from Alice in Wonderland, but couldn’t pin down which voice he’d been.
Babes in Toyland also boasts some pretty spectacular special effects for its time; there were several scenes where I wanted to know exactly how they had filmed something, most particularly Simple Simon and his pies, Jack jumping over the candlestick, and the toy soldiers coming to life.
Though I didn’t realize it at first, Babes in Toyland most certainly qualifies as a Christmas movie. If you’d like to try a different holiday classic this year, I recommend Babes in Toyland, which is appropriate for all ages.
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Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample of the product for review purposes. The opinions are my own, based on my personal experience with the product.