Dated 22nd. December 1934. - Behind the scenes of "BABES IN TOYLAND"
The production of the screen version of Victor Herbert's famous operetta, Babes in Toyland, which features Laurel and Hardy, taxed all the physical resources of the Hal Roach studio and, in addition, swamped several motion picture supply concerns with a deluge of orders for extra electrical equipment, stage properties and other accessories essential to the filming of such a mammoth spectacle.
Despite the fact that the Hal Roach studio is conceded to be one of the best equipped in all film land, it was found necessary to rent and purchase hundreds of extra sun-arcs and other electrical lamps and lo lease additional generator lorries to supply the vast amount of illumination required to light up the huge sets used in this picture.
Two stages, in tact, had to be combined so that all the buildings In the street scenes of the Toyland village could be presented simultaneously. The result was a structure 250 feet wide by 500 feet in length; 125,000 square feet in all.
The entire structure, completely soundproofed, was transformed into a wonderland. Lining both sides of the mythical thoroughfare were such buildings, made famous by the Mother Goose rhymes and other children's stories, as the Drum House, Noah's Ark, the Home of the Old Lady who lived in a shoe, House of Wooden Blocks, the Windmill, as well as a Toyland school, toy factory, toy warehouse, barracks, police station and many other smaller buildings.
On this street appear many of childhood's most popular characters; Widow Peep and her daughter, Bo-Peep, Tom Thumb, Simple Simon, Mother Goose herself, Little Red Riding Hood, Santa Claus, Jack and Jill, Three Little Piqs, Little Boy Blue, Puss-in-Boots, Jack Homer, The Queen of Hearts, king Cole arid many others A number of giant trees and scores of fern plants were supplied by outside nurseries toaugment the shrubbery raised on the studio grounds, all of which are used in "bogeyland" scenes. Every independent costumer in Hollywood was called upon to help supply the necessary costumes for the production after the wardrobe department at the studio became swamped. For the "bogeymen" alone, 200 furry and grotesque costumes were required, while the dressing of the colourful toyland villages necessitated the making of 100 period costumes.
Each of the principals of the cast had to be fitted with outfits dictated by the tradition of the fantasy, which were fashioned in triplicate to avoid production delays in the event of anyone's wardrobe becoming soiled or otherwise rendered useless.
A Hollywood crocodile "farm" supplied the reptiles used in the swamp scenes. The lizard like amphibians ranged in size from 6 to 9 feet long, and were so ferocious that it was necessary to have armed guards stand by while expert swimmers, playing the role of "bogymen", were in the water with them. There are more than 100 of them, and they will testify that the life of a film "extra" is not always a bed of roses.
in several of the scenes in the spectacular fantasy, the bit players were required to do battle with this school of mammoth crocodiles. Inasmuch as there is "no such animal" as a tame or educated crocodile, the lives of the "extras" were constantly endangered during this bit of action, despite the presence of the armed guards. Because of the watchfulness of these men, not a single actor was injured, although there were several close calls.
The unusual stage properties used throughout the production gave many outside cabinetmakers and iron and steel workers' employment, supplementing the activity of the studio workshops. Wig-makers, too, prosperity as a picturization of fantasy.
Three hundred wigs, ranging in quality from the beautiful blonde tresses used by "bo-peep," to the tawny mane-like hair of "Barnaby," the villain, were supplied by outside specialists and were cared for during production by a staff of 12 hairdressers.
No other motion picture of recent years required the services of so many independent workers as did Babes in Toyland . The picture was twelve weeks in the making and for each of the 300 players appearing in it, there were at least two men working "behind the scenes," so to speak.
Those interested in statistics may be interested to learn acme astounding facts relative to the building materials and electrical energy that goes into the making of a feature production.
Some authentic figures on this subject were complied by Hal Roach during the course of production
The following items were used:-
Slightly more than 1,700 gallons of various kinds or paint and varnishes. with a total weight of 20.400 lb.
196,000 square feet of lumber, weighing 588.000 lb.
240.000 square feet of wall board.
192,000 lb. of plaster, 80,000 square feet of chicken wire. 80,000 square feet of burlap. The weight of the nails used in constructing the sets and properties was 7,000 lb.
A total of 2,952,000 watts per hour were generated to illuminate the sets; this energy was consumed in burning 812 filament lamps ranging in size from massive sun arcs in baby spots
On completion of the picture, Hal Roach made the City of Los Angeles a present of the Toyland Street and its unique structures, the sets to be erected at the children's playground in Griffith Park, the recreational contra of tho city
All of which gives you some idea of the magnitude of the task that has been successfully undertaken by Hal Roach. and promises to be something of a milestone in talkie production.
MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS NEW COLOUR VERSION NOW OUT!
Computer-colorized films have been around for some time now. We actually screened the first-ever colorized film 'Helpmates' when we co hosted the 1984 International Convention. Helpmates was primitive by today's standards, so I was more than impressed when March of the Wooden Soldiers was released in glorious colour in the 1990s. At that time I thought the colorization was superb. Little did I know that things could only get better:
Recently an American company, "Legend Films," who specialise in the restoration and colorization of old black and white films, has released March of the Wooden Soldiers. Having been enhanced using today's technology, this will be an even better and the most complete version of Babes in Toyland, and, judging by DVDs that Legend has released so far, it is amust have!!
DVD CONTENTS: 2 RESTORED VERSIONS - New Color and Original B&W
· Newly Restored Color version
· Original Black-and-White version
· Remastered in High Definition from Rare 35mm Film
· Original Theatrical Trailer
· Christmas Trailer Gallery
· Bonus Animated Movie: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
· Rare Laurel & Hardy Short Film
|MORE Bonus Features
The Ultimate Holiday Bonus Package Including:
· Christmas Toyshop
· 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
· Merry Christmas Cartoon
· Classic Toy Commercials
· Vintage Holiday Film Rarities
It is now out in the USA and you can ORDER now from our :REGION ONE/ZERO ORDER PAGE
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