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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Musical > Drama > Telefilm > Children > Puppets > Literature > Muppets > March Of The Wooden Soldiers (aka Babes In Toyland/1934/Legend Blu-ray) + Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage (2008/Lionsgate Blu-ray) + The Wubbulous World Of Dr. Seuss – There Is Nothing To Fear In H

March Of The Wooden Soldiers (aka Babes In Toyland/1934/Legend Blu-ray) + Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage (2008/Lionsgate Blu-ray) + The Wubbulous World Of Dr. Seuss – There Is Nothing To Fear In Here (Lionsgate DVD)


Picture: C+ (Colorized Soldiers: D)     Sound: C+/C/C+     Extras: B-/D/C+     Films: B/C+     Episodes: B-



Tis’ the season for more holiday releases and this includes titles in Blu-ray.  In this group, feature titles we have covered before and a show very close to it.


March Of The Wooden Soldiers (aka Babes In Toyland/1934) has been issued to death on DVD (and VHS before it) and is an underrated Laurel & Hardy film, but most of the copies look terrible.  Legend Films has issued the first Blu-ray of this public domain film and it includes the best copy we have seen yet, though it also has the poorest version in the colorized version that is really unnecessary.  To quote coverage of the film we gave it seven years before…


March of the Wooden Soldiers was made at their old home, M-G-M, and always feels like an interesting test run for The Wizard of Oz made five years later.  It is a rich production and that too looks like M-G-M and the kind of money and talent they could pull together for such a film.  There are so many people representing characters form various fairy tales that L&H themselves are not always the center of the film.  This is a good picture for kids and maybe a minor Fantasy genre classic.  Though there is not non-stop singing like you would find in Jacques Demy’s Umbrellas of Cherbourg, this is based on an operetta by Victor Herbert.  The music is not bad, but the non-Musical moments work better, with L&H in top form.”


This was one of the duos first feature films (produced by Hal Roach) and it holds up well.  It also had two directors (Gus Meins and Charley Rogers, an actor who appeared in many L&H projects), yet that is not an issue, while the script and musical segments by Glen MacDonough (a founder of ASCAP!), Frank Butler (who later wrote many of the Hope/Crosby films) and Nick Grinde (the director in one of his rare writing jobs) all pulled together a remarkably cohesive film. 


While we will dismiss the bizarre, colorized version, the 1080p 1.33 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image is smooth, clean and has decent Video Black, but is also a little soft more of then than I would have liked and there is also some telecine flicker.  Even having two cinematographers (Francis Corby, Art Lloyd) worked and until someone finds a better print and puts it on Blu-ray , this will be the best version.  In comparison to other Christmas Blu-rays, it is not quite as good as the 1951 A Christmas Carol from VCI (reviewed elsewhere on this site) or It’s A Wonderful Life (1946, unreviewed, but also featuring a disposable colorized version), but it is an older orphan film and not from the negative, so fans will be impressed enough.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is weak and shows its age, so be careful of volume switching, but they cleaned it up the best they could, likely working from an old optical track.


In addition, it has far more extras than expected (all in standard definition) including several old TV toy ads, a rare holiday L&H short, the Fleischer Studios Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer animated short, Howdy Doody Christmas short, Christmas Trailer gallery, holiday music shorts and Christmas 1945 thank you short for movie theaters to their attendees.  Note that some of the material is sound film from the Castle Films consumer line, but all of this is a very pleasant surprise.



Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage (2008) is a title we covered a while ago on DVD, which you can read about at this link:




Unfortunately, the upgrades to 1080p 1.78 X1 digital High Definition image and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 sound only show more flaws than enhancements in the presentation, so it is no improvement over the DVD and has the same extras



The Wubbulous World Of Dr. Seuss – There Is Nothing To Fear In Here is not a Christmas installment of the puppet version of the classic character, but a Halloween installment and the third DVD we have covered so far, none of which are holiday installments either.  Here are examples of the previous coverage:


The Cat’s Colorful World



The Cat’s Family & Friends



Whether copyright prevents them from addressing the holiday they are most associated with, we don’t know, but The Grinch is here just the same and we get three more installments of this series.  Not bad and well done enough, good thing the Blu-rays for the animated TV special and feature film are already out on Blu-ray, both of which are reviewed elsewhere on this site.  Picture and sound are the same as the previous volumes, which like this one has no extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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