By Joseph Walter
I guess, to me, anything Christmas-related is special, and I'm okay with that!
Today's present is one that traditionally ushers in the Christmas season, and one that I've loved for as long as I can remember!
We're doing the 1934 classic, "March of the Wooden Soldiers," also known as...
After a series of comedic, memorable set pieces, Barnaby lays siege to the town with an army of "Bogeymen," who live in a cave outside the town gates.
Thankfully, being inept toymakers comes in handy: Earlier in the film, Staney and Ollie royally piss off their boss (along with Santa Claus) for misinterpreting a toy order: Santa wanted six-hundred wooden soldiers at one foot tall. Instead, they made an army of one-hundred soldiers at six feet tall. And it's this particular mistake that helps them accidentally save the day.
The two activate the wooden soldier company, which then marches to victory, overpowering and overwhelming the Bogeyman forces, and finally ejecting them from Toy Land.
Stan and Ollie are hailed as heroes, but the movie wouldn't be complete without Stan getting his hindquarters pierced by one hundred darts fired from a cannon.
In terms of actual Christmas Spirit, the movie takes place in July, with Santa visiting the toy shop and checking in on his orders (I guess the elves just weren't enough.)
In fact, aside from that brief appearance by Santa, along with a joke about a present not being able to be opened until Christmas and toys meant for Christmas saving the day, this movie has hardly any connection to Christmas.
Because of this, I'm going to have to give it a low "Christmas Rating," but that doesn't mean this is a film of poor quality. Quite the opposite is true.
Despite its age, "March of the Wooden Soldiers" remains an extremely funny, charming experience, from start to finish. I shed a tear of awesome joy every time those Wooden Soldiers march into battle (seriously, that scene and its accompanying march are bad-ass) and I something new makes me laugh annually. This is just one of those films that is a bonafide, timeless classic.
There're also so many unexplained mysteries within! Like the whole ghost gnome sequence with the Sandman (?) or the great questions as to why they decided to build Toy Land next to the clearly hostile cave of Bogeymen. Speaking of the Bogeymen (which are absolutely terrifying), how is it that Barnaby was able to bargain/form an alliance with them? They clearly follow his orders, and he's even the one who musters them from the cave.
Also, did you ever notice how there are specific laws to protect the Three Little Pigs? The punishment for "Pignapping" alone is essentially death. I guess they knew that people would want to eat the pigs, so specific, protective laws were put in place.
And, lastly.... this thing. Everything about this thing:
With its allusions to elements of Christmas (Santa, building the toys for Christmas, etc.) it's easy to see why many consider this a Thanksgiving film (myself included, as mentioned above) despite having next-to-nothing to do with that holiday, either.
Because it merely teases Christmas, and the fact that Thanksgiving marks the end of November and the de-facto start of the Christmas Season, "March" is the perfect film to pave the way towards the 25th of December, while also the perfect start to your annual journey to Christmas Spirit Nirvana.
So, because of all that...