Babes In Toyland
Disney has reissued its 1961 big musical production of Annette Funicello in the wholesome family romp "Babes in Toyland" in Technicolor on Blu- ray.
Bright as day with new digital restoration and enhanced picture and restored sound, the decidedly old fashioned feel comes not from production values but from the genre in which the story is told. Solidly based on Victor Herbert's operetta style (an embryonic form of the American musical) the original played Broadway more than a century ago.
Most of the characters are taken from Mother Goose rhymes.
What used to be a story of two orphans, in the Disney version is a romance between Tom Tom the Piper's Son (Tommy Sands) and Mistress Mary Quite Contrary (Funicello) on the eve of their wedding. The happy occasion is thwarted by the scoundrel Barnaby (Ray Bolger) who wants her fortune (that she is unaware comes her way when she marries) and who plots to have Mary marry him instead. The nefarious plot sets off many comic chases and double crosses, which involve, among others the Toymaker (Ed Wynn).
It's a nice opportunity to see some masters of their art do their thing but the hidden value is watching the direction of Jack Donohue, who started as a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies, continued as a dancer and teacher for tap (his most prominent pupil was Eleanor Powell) and who went on to direct a bunch of now classic TV series such as "I Love Lucy" and "The Odd Couple."
"Babes in Toyland"