The story begins with a little girl (Ellen Barrie) lost in a department store (an establishing shot of the store uses the song "Hail to Christmas") and asking the Santa Claus (Dave Garroway) there for help. Although he's tired, he calls the little girl's mother and reads her a story while waiting for the girl's mother to arrive. Of course, the book selected is Babes in Toyland. (A novelization of the operetta had been published in 1904. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a copy in time for these blogs.)
Then is the engagement party of Tom and Jane, which features the song "Barney O'Flynn." Then a pair of clowns perform music and tricks.
Santa finishes by telling the little girl "how they lived happily ever after": Tommy Tucker organized an orchestra and Jane's a lead vocalist, Little Bo Peep found her sheep and doing very well in the sweater business, Grumio became a school teacher and got a television program, and Barnaby "is a very, very unhappy man, and that makes him very happy."
The little girl's mother arrives and thanks Santa, who then wishes peace to the audience.
|The final view of Toyland|
The 1955 restaging runs at a brisker pace, cutting some dialogue and getting the run time down from 78 minutes to 75, and that includes an additional Christmas carol and a good-bye from Oldsmobile. The kinescope recording of that one is sharper, though it has other issues as well. It also does more close ups, as well as changing some of the cast. Otherwise, it is the same adaptation.
|Barbara Cook plays Jane in 1955|
|Wally Cox as Grumio in 1955|
And Oz connections? Jack E. Leonard (Barnaby) would later voice the Sign Post in Journey Back to Oz and Bil Baird eventually adapted The Wizard of Oz with his puppets. (It's also worth noting that his puppets are the ones in the famous "Lonely Goatherd" scene from The Sound of Music.)