Cast & Crew
In the village of Toyland, evil old Silas Barnaby threatens to evict the Widow Peep, who lives in a shoe, unless she allows him to marry her daughter Bo-Peep. The widow refuses his demand, much to the relief of Bo-Peep, who is in love with handsome Tom-Tom Piper. Desperate for money to pay off her mortgage, Widow Peep asks for help from her well-meaning but simple lodgers, Stannie Dum and Ollie Dee, who assure her that they can borrow the money from their employer, the Toymaker. After they arrive at work, however, their hopes for a loan are dashed when it is discovered that they made a mistake in an order for Santa Claus. Instead of the 600 one-foot tall toy soldiers that Santa needs, the boys told the toymakers to build 100 six-foot tall soldiers. The enraged Toymaker fires them and they return home just as Barnaby is again threatening Bo-Peep and her mother. Unable to pay Barnaby, the boys resolve to obtain the deed to the shoe, and so, that night, Ollie hides in a box that Stannie takes to Barnaby as a Christmas present. The boys intend to steal the deed while Barnaby sleeps, but he discovers their ruse, and the next day, Old King Cole proclaims that the would-be thieves are to be ducked in the pond and permanently banished to Bogeyland. Ollie's dignity is dampened by the ducking, but he and Stannie are saved from banishment by Bo-Peep, who agrees to marry Barnaby if he drops the charges and allows her mother to move back into the shoe. Soon after, Bo-Peep and her mother are sadly waiting with Stannie and Ollie for the wedding ceremony to begin. As Ollie laments having to give Bo-Peep away, Widow Peep goes to Barnaby's house to plead for mercy, which he refuses to give. Ollie then arrives with the bride, who is demurely covered with a heavy veil, and the wedding commences. After the ceremony, Barnaby gives the deed to Ollie, who tears it up, but when Barnaby lifts the veil to kiss his bride, he finds Stannie, not Bo-Peep. Barnaby vows revenge, and later that night, kidnaps Elmer, one of the Three Little Pigs, and plants evidence to make Tom-Tom appear guilty. The next day, during Tom-Tom's trial, Stannie and Ollie find Elmer in Barnaby's cellar, but by the time they bring him back, Tom-Tom has already been sent to Bogeyland. Bo-Peep rushes off to find her sweetheart, while the townspeople chase Barnaby, who goes to Bogeyland through a secret passageway in his well. Stannie and Ollie follow him and find Bo-Peep and Tom-Tom, then are chased back to Toyland by Barnaby and the monstrous bogeymen whom he controls. Back at Toyland, everyone welcomes the returned heroes, but chaos breaks out as the village is overrun by Barnaby's mauraders. A resourceful mouse takes to the air in a toy blimp and drops miniature torpedoes on the bogeymen, while Stannie and Ollie start up the giant wooden soldiers. The soldiers march out of the toy factory and soon rout the bogeymen. Stannie and Ollie attempt to shoot a parting volley of darts at the fleeing monsters, but the cannon tips over and covers Ollie's backside with darts.
L. A. French
John W. Swallow
So far so good.- Ollie Dee
It wasn't so far. We just came across the street.- Stannie Dum
I've got a Christmas present for you.- Stannie Dum
A Christmas gift in the middle of July?- Barnaby
Well we always do our Christmas shopping early.- Stannie Dum
What do you think of the wooden soldiers?- The Toy Maker
They're nice but they're not what I ordered. I ordered 600 soldiers one foot high.- Santa Claus
Oh I thought you said 100 soldiers six feet high.- Stannie Dum
Goodbye Stannie.- Ollie Dee
Well aren't I going with you?- Stannie Dum
Why no. You've got to stay here with Barnaby. You're married to him.- Ollie Dee
I don't want to stay here with him.- Stannie Dum
Why not?- Ollie Dee
I don't love him.- Stannie Dum
Big bait catches big rat!- Barnaby
The six minutes formerly missing from the film have been restored on some prints and can be seen in the version shown on cable channel AMC. They include the song "Go To Sleep," a beautifully photographed sequence in the underground caves.
The filming turned into a symphony of cast injuries. Stan Laurel fell off a platform and tore ligaments in his right leg. 'Henry Brandon' was injured in a bar fight at the Brass Rail. Assistant director Gordon Douglas slid 15 feet from the top of the Old Woman's Shoe and tore ligaments in his left leg. Kewpie Morgan's part as Old King Cole called for him to laugh continuously - after two days, he ruptured muscles in his stomach. 'Babe Hardy' entered St. Vincent's hospital to have his tonsils removed, the day after filming wrapped, and Hal Roach developed appendicitis.
An extra named John D. Wood sued Stan Laurel and his stunt double, Ham Kinsey, claiming back injuries after Laurel and Kinsey threw him in the ducking pond on the set. The lawsuit specified $40,500 in damages, but was settled out-of-court.
Although the print viewed was a re-issue version entitled March of the Wooden Soldiers, the above credits were taken from the film's original cutting continuity. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, whose names appear above the title, are listed last in the cast listing. The picture was also re-issued as Revenge Is Sweet. According to an unidentified December 7, 1933 news item in the file on Hal Roach at the AMPAS Library, the film was to be produced with $500,000 provided by M-G-M, and was to star Laurel and Hardy as Simple Simon and the Pieman. Hollywood Reporter news items provide the following information about the production: preparation for the film, including testing actors for various roles and shooting "stop-motion and miniature material" began as early as January 1934. L. A. French was in charge of the two crews working on the special effects, and the dramatic sequences were scheduled to begin shooting on February 15, 1934. Roach tried and failed to obtain Ramon Novarro for the romantic lead, then considered Donald Novis and Earl Oxford before awarding the part to Felix Knight. Roach also sought to borrow Patricia Ellis for the female romantic lead, and tested Doris Paxton for an unspecified feature spot. Anita Louise was tested for the part of "Little Miss Muffet," which was turned into "Bo-Peep" and given to Charlotte Henry, while Douglas Wakefield and Charles Rogers (who would later become the co-director) were tested for the role of "Gumio, the Toymaker's assistant," which was cut before production began. According to a February 26, 1934 Hollywood Reporter news item, Laurel was "out of the picture for the time being," and Roach suspended production until Laurel could be "brought back to the fold." Modern sources assert that this delay was caused by Laurel's announcement that he was returning to his native England. The announcement was supposedly a ploy to avoid Laurel's alimony difficulties.
Preparations for filming began again in mid-June 1934. Ray McCarey was scheduled to direct the film, but in early Jul, he was replaced by Gus Meins, and Margaret Seddon was engaged for the role of "the Widow Peep." Soon after production began in early August 1934, Laurel suffered a serious leg injury and production was halted on 16 Aug. Contemporary news items conflict about the exact date shooting resumed, but apparently some work was done on the picture while Laurel recovered. By the time production fully resumed, Seddon had been replaced by Florence Roberts, possibly because Seddon was no longer available. The film's pressbook noted that Rogers, who had frequently worked with Laurel and Hardy as a writer, directed their comedy sequences, while Meins was responsible for the other portions of the film. The following actors were included in the cast by Hollywood Reporter production charts, and their roles are supplied by modern sources: Kewpie Morgan (Old King Cole); Marie Wilson (Mary Quite Contrary); Charlie Hall (Toyland townsman); Billy Bletcher (Chief of police); Alice Moore (Queen of Hearts); Pete Gordon (Cat and the fiddle); Richard Powell (King's guard); and Sumner Getchell (Tom Thumb). Other actors listed on Hollywood Reporter production charts who are not listed in modern sources are: Alice Lake, May Wallace and Arthur Lovejoy. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the "Three Little Pigs" appeared through a deal with Walt Disney Productions, which was to supply their voices. The film's pressbook stated that after the film was completed, Roach donated the set of Toyland to the city of Los Angeles. Actor Henry Kleinbach, who later changed his name to Henry Brandon, was twenty-two when he played "Silas Barnaby" in this film, which marked his screen-acting debut. He noted in a modern source that his makeup was done by Jim Collins, the former head of the Paramount makeup department.
Modern sources assert that Roach wrote the film's original script in late 1933, and hired Ray Harris to polish it. Roach's material was largely rewritten, however, by Frank Butler and Nick Grinde, who are credited on screen, and Laurel. According to modern sources, Gordon Douglas was an assistant director on the film, and photographer Art Lloyd was assisted by special effects director Roy Seawright with the filming of the march of the wooden soldiers. Modern sources also include the following actors in the cast: Scotty Beckett, Marianne Edwards, Tommy Bupp, Georgie Billings, Jerry Tucker, Jackie Taylor and Dickie Jones (Schoolchilden); Sam Lufkin, Jack Hill, Baldwin Cooke, Jack Lipson, Robert Burns, Bob O'Conor, Ernie Alexander, Ham Kinsey, Charles Dorety, Edward Earle and Margaret Nearing (Toyland townspeople); Scott Mattraw (Toyland townsman, also the town crier); Alice Dahl (Little Miss Muffet); Payne Johnson (Jiggs, one of the Three Little Pigs); Angelo Rossitto (Elmer, one of the Three Little Pigs); Dick Alexander (King's guard); Tiny Sandford and Eddie Baker (Duckers); John George (Barnaby's minion); Frank Austin (Justice of the peace); Gus Leonard (Candle snuffer); Charles Rogers (Fisherman); Jack Raymond and Eddie Borden (Demon bogeyman); Alice Cooke (Mother Hubbard); and Fred Holmes (Balloon man).
Jack Donohoe directed Ray Bolger, Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello in the 1961 Walt Disney Productions version of Victor Herbert and Glen MacDonough's operetta (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70; F6.0238). The many television versions, all entitled Babes in Toyland, include a December 25, 1950 NBC broadcast directed by Bill Corrigan and starring Dennis King; a December 18, 1954 NBC Color Special, directed by Max Liebman and starring Wally Cox and Dennis Day, which was rebroadcast on December 24, 1955; an episode of Shirley Temple's Storybook, broadcast on December 25, 1960, starring Temple and Jonathan Winters; and a December 19, 1986 NBC presentation directed by Clive Donner and starring Drew Barrymore, Richard Mulligan and Eileen Brennan.