Monday, December 24, 2012

Stan and Ollie for Christmas

I watched Laurel & Hardy's 'March of the Wooden Soldiers' today for about the millionth time since I was a toddler.

Per Wikipedia [mainly correct]:  "Babes in Toyland is a Laurel and Hardy musical film released on March 10, 1934. The film is also known by its alternate titles 'Laurel and Hardy in Toyland,' 'Revenge Is Sweet' (the 1948 European reissue title), 'March of the Wooden Soldiers' and 'Wooden Soldiers' (in the United States).

"Based on Victor Herbert's popular 1903 operetta 'Babes in Toyland,' the film was produced by Hal Roach, directed by Charles Rogers and Gus Meins, and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Originally filmed in black-and-white, the film is also shown in two computer colorized versions.   [I also enjoy the colorized version.  Stan always said that of all the L&H movies, he wished 'Babes' had been made in color.]

"Although the 1934 film makes use of many of the characters in the original play, as well as several of the songs, the plot is almost completely unlike that of the original stage production. In contrast to the stage version, the film's story takes place entirely in Toyland, which is inhabited by Mother Goose (Virginia Karns) and other well known fairy tale characters."

When I was a kid, the B&W movie was shown every Thanksgiving morning at 11am on local WPIX.  It became a tradition for me to watch it.  Dad was reading the print off the paper.  Mom was preparing dinner.  Ed and Jack were off to the annual football game of Middletown v Port Jervis [all NY.]  Little Mary Anne was helping Mom.  So, the television was mine.

We had one of the first televisions in our neighborhood, so this movie and the daily Junior Frolics [Farmer Gray and other cartoons] were my staples on TV.  Also: Kukla, Fran and Ollie; Captain Video and His Video Rangers; Captain Midnight; Roy Rogers and Dale Evans; the Lone Ranger; etc.

And I watched with my disabled grandmother Hopalong Cassidy, Kate Smith, and Liberace---all on in the mid to late afternoon.  She lived alternately with us and her son and other daughter.

But my greatest memory, of course, was enjoying 'The March of the Wooden Soldiers' with my favorite comedy team.  And I thank Stan and Ollie for destroying the fearful concept of the 'boogeyman' for me.  In seeing the movie, I could recognize how phoney the 'boogeymen' were and how ridiculous Stan and Ollie were in fighting them, thus reducing any fright I might have had for the term or threat.  Any future reference to 'boogeymen', then, had no real scare value against me---even when my parents used the term in an attempt to keep me in line.

So, the 'boogeymen' are gone, the Mayan scare is gone, and I'm preparing to watch the Midnight Mass from the Vatican on Christmas Eve/Christmas morning.

My best wishes to all of you out there in cyber-land for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  And may you have many more.