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HISTORY

A previous feature film version of Victor Herbert and Glen MacDonough’s 1903 operetta, Babes in Toyland, was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp., featuring the comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy (1934, see entry).
       Walt Disney Productions first planned Babes in Toyland as a made-for-television picture, to be directed and produced by Ward Kimball, according to the 25 Aug 1959 DV, in which the project was described as a mix of human actors and animated toys in “cartoon-like settings.” While Kimball stayed on as screenwriter, items in the 9 Jan 1961 DV and 16 Jan 1961 NYT announced that Jack Donohue would direct. Tommy Sands was reportedly the first actor to be cast; and, as noted in the 6 Feb 1961 DV, Disney rearranged the shooting schedule to accommodate veteran actor Ed Wynn’s travel plans in early Mar 1961. A 22 Jul 1960 DV brief had previously indicated that Tucker Smith was under consideration for a role that would require him to bleach his hair.
       Principal photography began on 13 Mar 1961 at Walt Disney studios in Burbank, CA, a production chart in the 17 Mar 1961 DV stated. A three-month shooting schedule was planned, and the 23 Mar 1961 NYT cited a budget of $3 million. According to an article in the 11 Jun 1961 NYT, the film would contain no animation, and instead would employ “intricate mechanisms” and stop-motion photography to capture the movement of the toys. Sets, including the vast “Forest of No Return,” required four soundstages. Foam rubber was utilized to build certain structures, including cottages ... More Less

A previous feature film version of Victor Herbert and Glen MacDonough’s 1903 operetta, Babes in Toyland, was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp., featuring the comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy (1934, see entry).
       Walt Disney Productions first planned Babes in Toyland as a made-for-television picture, to be directed and produced by Ward Kimball, according to the 25 Aug 1959 DV, in which the project was described as a mix of human actors and animated toys in “cartoon-like settings.” While Kimball stayed on as screenwriter, items in the 9 Jan 1961 DV and 16 Jan 1961 NYT announced that Jack Donohue would direct. Tommy Sands was reportedly the first actor to be cast; and, as noted in the 6 Feb 1961 DV, Disney rearranged the shooting schedule to accommodate veteran actor Ed Wynn’s travel plans in early Mar 1961. A 22 Jul 1960 DV brief had previously indicated that Tucker Smith was under consideration for a role that would require him to bleach his hair.
       Principal photography began on 13 Mar 1961 at Walt Disney studios in Burbank, CA, a production chart in the 17 Mar 1961 DV stated. A three-month shooting schedule was planned, and the 23 Mar 1961 NYT cited a budget of $3 million. According to an article in the 11 Jun 1961 NYT, the film would contain no animation, and instead would employ “intricate mechanisms” and stop-motion photography to capture the movement of the toys. Sets, including the vast “Forest of No Return,” required four soundstages. Foam rubber was utilized to build certain structures, including cottages and other buildings. On 20 Jun 1961, DV announced that filming would be completed that week.
       On 14 Dec 1961, Babes in Toyland was released as the “holiday attraction” at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. Screenings were preceded by a stage show that included a nativity pageant, singing performances, the Corps de Ballet, a circus act, and the Rockettes. A Los Angeles, CA, opening followed on 20 Dec 1961, at multiple locations.
       Promotions for the film entailed an estimated fifty-seven tie-in items, as noted in a 27 Dec 1961 Var article. Sears, Roebuck stores participated in the campaign by decorating their toy departments with a Babes in Toyland motif, including signs that read, “Welcome to Sears Toyland.” Alcoa Aluminum and Congoleum-Nairn, which produced Babes in Toyland themed rugs, also helped promote the film. Dell Comics was set to release a comic book based on the picture, and Whitman Publishing released a hardcover children’s book. Disney produced a television special, titled Backstage Party, that showed footage of the wrap party on set, which was scheduled to air on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) on 17 Dec 1961, the 13 Nov 1961 NYT reported.
       Disney arranged to release a soundtrack via Buena Vista Records, and a children’s record via Disneyland Records, according to an item in the 6 Sep 1961 Var. The 7 Dec 1961 DV later announced that the studio had been sued by Warner Bros.’ Witmark & Sons subsidiary, which alleged that Disney had promised them publishing rights to altered songs from the original operetta, then reneged on the deal and published them through its own Walt Disney Music Corp.
       Despite tepid reviews, the film received Academy Award nominations for Costume Design and Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture). After a year in release, the 9 Jan 1963 Var stated that the picture had grossed $4.4 million, and was expected to earn an additional $300,000.
       Babes in Toyland marked Disney’s first live-action musical, according to various contemporary sources including the 25 Aug 1959 DV. Other film adaptations include a three-hour, made-for-television picture starring Drew Barrymore, which aired on NBC in Dec 1986, and a direct-to-video animated film that MGM released in 1997. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Aug 1959
p. 9.
Daily Variety
22 Jul 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Jan 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
6 Feb 1961
p. 12.
Daily Variety
17 Mar 1961
p. 10.
Daily Variety
20 Jun 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
5 Dec 1961
p. 3, 11.
Daily Variety
7 Dec 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1986
p. 21.
Daily Variety
16 Jul 1997
p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
5 Sep 1959
Section A, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
17 Dec 1961
Section M, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
21 Dec 1961
Section B, p. 14.
New York Times
16 Jan 1961
p. 22.
New York Times
23 Mar 1961
p. 29.
New York Times
11 Jun 1961.
---
New York Times
13 Nov 1961
p. 40.
New York Times
10 Dec 1961.
---
New York Times
15 Dec 1961
p. 49.
Variety
26 Aug 1959
p. 22.
Variety
6 Sep 1961
p. 44.
Variety
27 Dec 1961
p. 7.
Variety
9 Jan 1963.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus adpt & cond
Introductory material
Choral arr
SOUND
Sd supv
Music ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Toy seq
Toy seq
Toy seq
Matte artist
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
ANIMATION
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the operetta Babes in Toyland, music by Victor Herbert, book and lyrics by Glen MacDonough (New York, 13 Oct 1903).
SONGS
"I Can't Do the Sum," "Just a Toy," "Floretta," "Castle in Spain," "We Won't Be Happy Till We Get It," "Lemonade," "Just a Whisper Away," "March of the Toys" and "Toyland," music by Victor Herbert, lyrics by Glen MacDonough
"The Workshop Song," "The Forest of No Return," "Slowly He Sank Into the Sea," music and lyrics by George Bruns and Mel Leven.
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 December 1961
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 14 December 1961 at Radio City Music Hall
Los Angeles opening: 20 December 1961
Production Date:
13 March--late June 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
17 November 1961
Copyright Number:
LP20733
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
105
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

The villagers in the land of Mother Goose gather in the square to celebrate the coming marriage of Tom Piper and Mary Contrary. Barnaby, Mary's evil tutor, hopes to marry the young girl himself and has Tom abducted by two knaves, Gonzorgo and Roderigo, and then sold to a band of Gypsies. Barnaby ruins Mary's source of income by driving her sheep into the Forest of No Return, but Tom returns in time to foil Barnaby's scheme and lead Mary and her brothers and sisters into the forest to retrieve the missing sheep. The friendly trees escort them to Toyland, where the kindly Toymaker puts them to work in return for his help. Meanwhile, Barnaby uses the Toymaker's latest invention to reduce Tom to toy size and tries to force Mary into marrying him. Tom mobilizes the Army of Wooden Soldiers, however, and once more comes to the rescue. The culprit is reduced in size and imprisoned in a bird cage; Tom (now of normal size) and Mary are finally ... +


The villagers in the land of Mother Goose gather in the square to celebrate the coming marriage of Tom Piper and Mary Contrary. Barnaby, Mary's evil tutor, hopes to marry the young girl himself and has Tom abducted by two knaves, Gonzorgo and Roderigo, and then sold to a band of Gypsies. Barnaby ruins Mary's source of income by driving her sheep into the Forest of No Return, but Tom returns in time to foil Barnaby's scheme and lead Mary and her brothers and sisters into the forest to retrieve the missing sheep. The friendly trees escort them to Toyland, where the kindly Toymaker puts them to work in return for his help. Meanwhile, Barnaby uses the Toymaker's latest invention to reduce Tom to toy size and tries to force Mary into marrying him. Tom mobilizes the Army of Wooden Soldiers, however, and once more comes to the rescue. The culprit is reduced in size and imprisoned in a bird cage; Tom (now of normal size) and Mary are finally married. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.