Babes in Toyland (1961)
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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:
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").Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This movie is just the greatest. It's a musical, comeity, and a fairy tale all rolled into one,Published 2 days ago by Kindle Customer
The colors are so vibrant for an older movie put on BluRay. I love this movie, I watched it on a VHS years ago so its nice to own this movie on BluRay. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Emily Baer
Classic film with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon with Disney animation to create the story of a toy maker and the citizens of toyland. Lots of singing and dancing and fun.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
The transition of this classic movie to DVD works well and it looks so much better than my VHS tape. I really enjoy this movie and am glad they have made it availablePublished 1 month ago by Trevor Johnson
Love this movie! Watched it when I was a child and wanted to share this wonderful feature with my daughterPublished 3 months ago by Kara Schueler
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