Babes in Toyland is far away from the Victor Herbert original operetta. The arithmetic song and ‘March of the Toys’ are the only outstanding survivors of Herbert’s score, and these are merely background. Two other lesser numbers are used. Of the original book there is no trace at all.
This is not a musical brought to the screen. It is a fairy story in technique and treatment, but a gorgeous fairy tale which gives everything to Laurel and Hardy and to which, in return, they give their happiest best.
The story is simple. Tom-Tom loves Bo-Peep, who is one of the numerous progeny of the Old Woman who lived in a shoe. Barnaby, a miser, holds the mortgage. Bo-Peep must marry him or else. Hardy promises to redeem the mortgage, but he and Laurel get fired from the toy shop when they make 100 soldiers six feet tall instead of 600 each a foot high. For this they are punished, but Bo-Peep begs them off, promising Barnaby she will marry him. Barnaby really is married to Laurel in bride’s dress. He frames Tom, who is exiled to Bogeyland, whither Bo-Peep follows him. The comedians follow and help them to effect their escape. This brings a smashing climax with the soldiers marching to the strains of ‘March of the Toys’.
All Mother Goose characters are woven into the plot, not to mention the Three Little Pigs, but it’s Laurel and Hardy’s picture. While they are on the story zips along, but the mistake has not been made of asking them to fill the stage continuously.