Mary Contrary (Annette) is set to marry Tom Piper (Tommy Sands) when he is kidnapped by Roderigo (Gene Sheldon) and Gonzorgo (Henry Calvin), two goons working for the evil Barnaby (Ray Bolger). Barnaby wants to marry Mary for her inheritance. Instead of killing Tom as instructed, Roderigo and Gonzorgo sell him to Gypsies, which allows Tom to rescue Mary. Soon afterward, Tom and Mary encounter the odd Toymaker (Ed Wynn), who becomes a pawn in Barnabys new scheme.
Babes in Toyland is a 1961 Walt Disney Christmas musical film in Technicolor, directed by Jack Donohue, and distributed to theatres by Buena Vista Distribution. It stars Ray Bolger as Barnaby, Annette Funicello as Mary Contrary, Tommy Sands as Tom Piper, and Ed Wynn as the Toymaker.
The film was based upon Victor Herberts popular 1903 operetta Babes in Toyland. There had been a 1934 film also titled Babes in Toyland starring Laurel and Hardy, and three television adaptations prior to the Disney film, but Disneys was only the second film version of the operetta released to movie theatres and the first in Technicolor. However, the plot, and in some cases, the music, bear little resemblance to the original as Disney had most of the lyrics rewritten and some of the song tempos drastically changed.
The toy soldiers would later appear in Christmas parades at the Disney theme parks around the world.
All roads lead to magical, merry Toyland as Mary Contrary and Tom Piper prepare for their wedding! But villainous Barnaby wants 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!
The film begins as if it were a stage play presented by Mother Goose (and her wise-cracking, talking goose companion, Sylvester) about two nursery rhyme characters, Mary, Mary Quite Contrary and Tom the Pipers Son, who are about to be married. At the same time, the miserly and villainous Barnaby is hiring two crooks, Gonzorgo and Rodrigo, to throw Tom into the sea and steal Marys sheep, thus depriving her of her means of support, and forcing her to marry Barnaby instead. (Mary has just come into a huge inheritance of which she is obviously unaware, but somehow–it is never explained how–Barnaby knows about it and intends to get it for himself.) After bopping Tom on the head with a hammer and tying him in a bag, the two henchmen, dimwitted Gonzorgo and silent Roderigo, pass by a gypsy camp. They decide to sell Tom to the Gypsies instead of drowning him in order to collect a double payment.
Gonzorgo and Roderigo return and tell Mary, Barnaby, and the citizens of Mother Goose Land that Tom has accidentally drowned. They show Mary a phony letter in which Tom tells her that he is abandoning her for her own good and that she would be better off marrying Barnaby. Mary, believing she is destitute, reluctantly accepts the proposal from Barnaby. Barnaby unknowingly arranges for the same gypsies that have Tom to provide entertainment for the marriage. Tom, disguised in drag as the gypsy Floretta, reveals himself and Barnaby pursues the frightened Gonzorgo and Roderigo, furious at their deception. One of the children informs Mary of some sheep tracks leading into the Forest of No Return.
The children, still eager to find their sheep, sneak away into the forest to search for the missing sheep. The trees of the forest come to life and capture them. Tom and Mary follow and find the children in the forest telling stories about the live trees, which, at the moment, seem like ordinary ones. They camp out for the night, and in the morning the trees once again come to life and inform the family that they are now in custody of the Toymaker in Toyland. Excited by this, the group happily continues on, escorted part of the way by the trees.
Through the windows of The Toymakers house they watch the Toymakers rather incompetent apprentice, Grumio, present a new machine that makes toys without any manual labor. Overjoyed, the Toymaker speeds up the machine to such a high rate that it explodes, destroying every toy in the factory. The family comes in and offers to help make more toys in time for Christmas.
Grumio also presents another invention, a shrinking "gun" that reduces everyday objects down to toy size. (He also warns that if it is used on anything more than once, the shrunken object disappears completely.) The Toymaker is at first delighted at the idea of producing toys by shrinking life-sized objects, but then Tom points out the impossibility of finding enough everyday objects to shrink down into the large quantity of toys needed for Christmas. The Toymaker berates Grumio for his stupidity and throws the shrinking gun out the window in disgust.
Barnaby, who had been spying on everyone, takes the discarded shrinking gun and uses it to shrink down the Toymaker and Tom. When Barnabys henchmen see him threatening to give Tom two servings of the shrinking formula, they abandon Barnaby and try to run. They, too, are shrunken to toy size and locked up with Tom in a birdcage.
Barnaby awakens Mary and starts a marriage ceremony threatening to destroy Tom if she resists, and to destroy the Toymaker if he refuses to marry the couple. While the Toymaker delays the marriage Tom sneaks away with the help of Gonzorgo and Roderigo, and returns with an army of toy soldiers to fight Barnaby. Barnaby easily demolishes the toy soldiers, and is about to obliterate Tom with another dose from the shrinking gun, but Mary destroys it with a toy cannon. The liquid splatters all over Barnaby, and shrinks him to Toms new size. He is challenged to and engages in a sword duel with Tom, which Tom wins by stabbing Barnaby, who falls from a great height into an empty toybox.
After the fight is over, Grumio once again presents a new invention, this time returning people to their original size. It is promptly used on Tom, The Toymaker, Gonzorgo and Roderigo, but not on Barnaby. Tom and Mary are married and everyone lives happily ever after.Ray Bolger — Barnaby
Tommy Sands — Tom Piper
Annette Funicello — Mary Contrary
Ed Wynn — Toymaker
Tommy Kirk — Grumio
Kevin Corcoran — Boy Blue
Henry Calvin — Gonzorgo
Gene Sheldon — Roderigo
Mary McCarty — Mother Goose
Ann Jillian — Bo Peep
Brian Corcoran — Willie Winkie
Marilee Arnold - Twin 1
Melanie Arnold - Twin 2
Jerry Glenn - Simple Simon
John Perri - Jack-Be-Nimble
David Pinson - Bobby Shaftoe
Bryan Russell - The Little Boy
James Martin - Jack
Ilana Dowding - Jill
Robert Banas - Russian Dancer (uncredited)
Eileen Diamond - Dancer (uncredited)
Bess Flowers - Villager (uncredited)
Jeannie Russell - Singer (voice) (uncredited)
Walt Disney announced the film in 1955 as an animated movie.
Walt Disney said he wanted to create a film of the standard of Wizard of Oz. "Its like a Disney cartoon only with live actors," said one Disney executive.
Jack Donohue was signed to direct off the back of his success on Broadway directing Top Banana and Mr Wonderful and his work on TV spectaculars for Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.
Dean Jones was originally announced for the lead. It marked the first time Ray Bolger had played a villain. Gene Sheldon was best known for the TV series Zorro. Sheldons Zorro co-star, Henry Calvin appeared in the film alongside him.
The movie featured a 15-minute animated sequence.
Shooting started 13 March 1961 and went for three months.
Tommy Kirk says he enjoyed making the movie because of working with Ed Wynn:
I thought he was delightful and so did everyone else. You couldnt not like him. He was completely crazy and he was just as crazy offscreen as he was on. But it was all, of course, an act. He was a very serious, religious man in his own way, but he loved playing Ed Wynn, the perfect fool, the complete nut. And he was good at it. Actually I think the movie is sort of a klunker, especially when I compare it to the Laurel and Hardy Babes in Toyland. Its not a great film but it has a few cute moments. Its an oddity. But Im not embarrassed about it like I am about some other movies Ive made.Overture (2)
Mother Goose Village / Lemonade (We Wont Be Happy Till We Get It)
4 (Just a Whisper Away)
Slowly He Sank to the Bottom of the Sea (6)
Castle in Spain (Never Mind Bo Peep)
8 (I Cant Do the Sum)
Forest of No Return (Go to Sleep)
Workshop Song (14)
Just a Toy (March of the Toys)
16 (Tom and Mary)
Walt Disney produced Babes in Toyland and Mary Poppins. Walt Disney produced Babes in Toyland and Alice in Wonderland. Ed Wynn and Tommy Kirk appear in Babes in Toyland and The Absent-Minded Professor. Ray Bolger appears in Babes in Toyland and The Wizard of Oz. Walt Disney produced Babes in Toyland and The Happiest Millionaire.
The release of the film was accompanied by a TV show on Walt Disneys program called Backstage Party.