This time around, between hitting town and connecting with my buddy, I had a couple of hours to sight see. I saw all the usual places, statues, monuments and memorials from my car. I even ran, (and I do mean RAN), into the "DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION," (DAR), library, to use their facilities.
By the time I crossed P Street, I recalled that the theme music to the 1934 movie, "THE MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS," was included on my Sousa CD. (Please note, many people interchange that title with, "BABES IN TOYLAND)." So when I turned onto M Street, I found track number twelve and my goose bumps immediately responded to the music that thrilled me as a child.THE ORIGINAL STARRING LAUREL & HARDY IS A CHRISTMAS CLASSIC. AN ERSATZ 1961 VERSION STARRING ANNETTE FUNICELLO WAS CALLED, "BABES IN TOYLAND." AN EVEN WORSE RE-MAKE WITH DREW BARRYMORE, CAME OUT IN 1986.
I once told my son Andrew that as a little kid, I hated, "THE MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS," but watched it every time I had the chance, (New York's TV Channel-11 used it as a Thanksgiving and Christmas staple).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L14GDhP7a4&feature=related CLICK ON THE ABOVE LINK TO HEAR THE THEME. IT IS NOT THE SAME ARRANGEMENT THAT I'M USED TO. BUT IF YOU'RE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, DROP BY MY HOUSE AND LISTEN TO MINE.
Andrew saw the contradiction in my statement and needed a clarification. So I said that I couldn't stand Laurel & Hardy. Plus, by the time I was eight, the movie's Mother Goose theme seemed babyish. My boy then wanted more clarification because he thought the writers of "SHREK," devised the idea of including fairytale characters into an original screenplay...I can still picture his expression of astonishment and disappointment.
After he gathered himself he asked, "If you had so much against it, why did you make a point to always watch it?" I said one word, "Fantasy!" I then added, "I would bide my time and watch the whole damned thing just to see the big climax...my greatest childhood dream...toys coming life. More specifically, toy soldiers."
Andrew scratched his head and said, "You mean 'TOY STORY,' one, two and three aren't original?" Alas...the idealism of youth.
The 1934, "MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS," was derived from the Victor Herbert operetta of the same name. In the film, Laurel (Stannie Dum), and Hardy (Ollie Dee), work for Santa Claus. They screw-up by making 100, six-foot marching soldiers instead of 600, one foot soldiers and are fired. They were counting on using their wages to help Little Bo-Peep pay her rent. The landlord, treacherous Silas Barnaby offers to forget the debt by bartering for her hand in marriage. The plot is complicated when Barnaby frames her love, Tom-Tom, (the piper's son), by making it look like he kidnapped, (pig-napped) one of the, "THREE LITTLE PIGS."
***CAUTION: SPOILER ALERT !!!***
All seems lost for Bo-Peep and Tom-Tom until, Laurel and Hardy do some detective work. They begin to unravel the bad guy's scheme and rally all citizens of Toyland including, THE OLD WOMAN WHO LIVED IN A SHOE, MARY QUITE CONTRARY etc.
Their aim is to delay Bo-Peep's marriage to Silas Barnaby. So our heroes trick him into marrying Stannie-Dum. Barnaby is enraged. In retribution and to support his evil empire, he enlists the Bogeymen out of their Bogeyland caverns to destroy Toyland. The big ending that I couldn't live without...set to the theme music I adore, has the idiots Laurel & Hardy animate the warehouse of "useless" six-foot wooden soldiers. Then as my skin tingles and my goose bumps explode, they steal victory from the jaws of defeat by routing the bad guys in a colossal battle.
Of course there are causalities to both sides in war. Especially when Stannie-Dum loads an over-sized toy cannon with tons of darts and it accidentally flips backwards and shoots Ollie-Dee in the butt. When the hysteria and music are over and the smoke clears, our heroes drive the evil henchmen back to their subterranean homeland.
Hopefully you can now see why such fairy tales were impossible for my budding testosterone to accept. A manly pre-pubescent like myself couldn't care less about the Dish running away with the Spoon or what made the Little Boy so blue. Then to heap upon all that a romance angle...quick get me a bucket...even now...before I lose my lunch.
In all fairness, it should be noted that similar lovey-dovey circumstances took place in the, "DUDLEY DO-RIGHT," cartoons...and that situation was perfectly palatable to me. The reason is obvious...while the Bo-Peep character was mirrored by Do-Right's girlfriend Nell Fenwick...and Silas Barnaby's counterpart was the sinister, Snidley Whiplash, the cartoon DID NOT have the ever-bumbling Laurel & Hardy in charge of healing affairs of the heart. AT BROOKLYN COLLEGE, (1977), WITH "MFLEIS" AS MY LAST REMAINING WITNESS, I BROUGHT THE HOUSE DOWN IN SPEECH CLASS WHEN I DID A READING FROM "RAPUNZEL," IN MY DUDLEY DO-RIGHT VOICE.
Regardless how I feel about it, "MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS," is a classic movie that shouldn't get swept under the rug. Just like you may not think Kate Smith's rendition of, "GOD BLESS AMERICA," will give you goose bumps because she wasn't a beauty.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r26_CSzk3Xw
YOU MIGHT BE FAMILIAR WITH KATE SMITH'S HOCKEY GAME VERSION OF, "GOD BLESS AMERICA." CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE FOR AN EQUALLY INSPIRING RENDITION FROM HER OLD RADIO DAYS.
The truth is, it doesn't matter what Kate Smith looked like, the song stirred something patriotic in nearly all of us. So find the original, "MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS," and rent it. Because it will stir you...well, at least the end will. Please, forget that its dated, in black and white, lacks any semblance to masculinity and has the ever-hatable Laurel & Hardy...its old school entertainment at its finest. And while your at it, take an over night trip to Washington DC. HJ may not be available but the rest of the town will still give you recurring goose bumps.