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Sunday, November 26, 2006


For me, the holiday season begins at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, when Channel 11 airs "March of the Wooden Soldiers" starring Laurel and Hardy.

It's the colorized version, which I actually prefer. Many old movie buffs are colorization snobs. While I would never advocate the colorization of, say, "The Maltese Falcon" (which actually WAS colorized by some thoughtless party), I believe it only makes a movie like "March of the Wooden Soldiers" more accessible to young audiences. It also helps the viewer fully appreciate the world of Toyland created by the set designers.

I never tire of the film -- that is, I suppose, as long as I only see it once a year. The music, though old-fashioned, is up there with "Wizard of Oz" and anything Disney. The characters are at turns comical, heartwarming and, well, creepy. That IS a monkey dressed as a Mickey Mouse-type character who behaves like Ignatz, isn't it? Those bogeymen ... those weird dancing pigs ... that marching soldier who loses his head ... that Barnaby.

Just this year for the first time, I recognized Angelo Rossitto as a "sleep fairy" in the scene where Bo Beep and Tom Tom are stranded in Bogeyland. A quick click onto verified Rossitto's participation, with a bonus: He was also one of the Three Little Pigs. The late, diminutive Rossitto, genre buffs need not be reminded, was in "Freaks," "Spooks Run WIld," "Scared to Death," "Dracula vs. Frankenstein" and played Master Blaster opposite Mel Gibson in "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome."

The secret weapon of "March of the Wooden Soldiers" was, of course, Laurel and Hardy, whose comedy was always child-friendly, but is presented with such affection and gentleness here that the boys become something like cartoon characters. On this year's viewing, my niece and nephews asked about the boys, and seemed surprised to learn that Laurel and Hardy were a comedy team from the '20s to the '50s. A few mouse clicks later, and we were watching the boys' very best short, the Oscar-winning "The Music Box." The Web is sometimes dangerous, but if it helps make the comedy of Laurel and Hardy accessible to young people, it ain't ALL bad. Happy holidays.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Uncle Vogie!
It's your dear niece just wishing you a wonderful christmas season. i wish i had been there for this year's tree lighting ceremony. we have no tree in this art department.
Have a nice week!

3:22 PM, November 29, 2006  

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