Part one of a love letter to the beloved and unpretentious pop culture icon to recognize her unsung role in animation, sound recordings, musical films and theme park entertainment.
Annette Funicello, whose birthday is this Thursday, came to prominence on the original Mickey Mouse Club in the fifties and defined the 1960s beach party era through the film series co-starring Frankie Avalon. Decades of MMC reruns and broadcasts of the beach movies (there are seven “official” films) and her own personality (no one who knew her has anything negative to say) sustained her image. She continued to make occasional TV guest appearances and in Skippy peanut butter commercials (they fit into her schedule, paid well, and she used a lot of the product). Annette never took herself seriously and was humble–almost to the point of denial–about her talent and continued appeal.
In truth, Annette was a genuine catalyst. The circumstances surrounding her career, music and films were quietly seismic. She is an official Disney Legend for what she contributed (and continues to contribute) to Disney, but animation might not be the first thing that springs to mind. Yet her work involved some of the giants of the art, including Bill Justice, X Atencio and Ward Kimball.
Walt Disney’s BABES IN TOYLAND
Original Cast Album
Based on Victor Herbert’s Tuneful Musical Comedy
Buena Vista Records STER-4022 (Stereo) BV-4022 (Mono)
Released in November 1961. Executive Producer: Jimmy Johnson. Producer: Camarata. Musical Direction: George Bruns, Camarata. Chief Engineer: Allan Emig. Vocals Recorded at Sunset Sound, Hollywood. Running Time: 45 minutes.
Performers: Ray Bolger (Barnaby); Annette (Mary Contrary); Tommy Sands (Tom Piper); Ed Wynn (The Toymaker); Ann Jillian (Bo Peep); Henry Calvin (Gonzorgo); The Mellomen (Trees).
Songs: “Mother Goose Village;” “Lemonade,” “We Won’t Be Happy Till We Get It,” “Just a Whisper Away,” “Slowly He Sank Into the Sea,” ”Castle in Spain,” “I Can’t Do the Sum,” “Floretta,” “The Forest of No Return,” “Go to Sleep,” “Toyland March,” “Just a Toy,” “Tom and Mary” by George Bruns and Mel Leven, adapted from music and lyrics by Victor Herbert and Glen MacDonough.
When Walt Disney announced the production of his first musical, Babes in Toyland, a more modern approach than the traditional operetta, infighting began within the studio regarding the female singing star. Insiders wanted it to be Annette, others wanted a current pop star. It was akin to the Tiffany voicing Judy Jetson instead of Janet Waldo.
In his autobiography, Inside the Whimsy Works: My Life With Walt Disney Productions, Disney Legend Jimmy Johnson (president and founder of Disneyland/Vista Records) recalled when he and another Disney Legend, A&R and musical director Tutti Camarata, were in the thick of the Toyland tussle.
“Some of Walt’s production people plugged hard for a Warner Brothers recording artist for the female lead, and much propaganda was spread about the inability of our own Annette to handle the Victor Herbert tunes,” he wrote. “Tutti and I had faith in Annette and also couldn’t stand the thought of the soundtrack album going to another label. We made a demonstration record of her singing probably the most difficult song in the score, “Just a Whisper Away” and the novelty number, “I Can’t Do the Sum.” The demo came off beautifully, and Walt, who had great affection for Annette like the rest of us, gave her the part.”
Johnson continued, “Throughout the principal shooting, Babes in Toyland was hard going. As an example of how wrong things were, the director who replaced Ward Kimball (whose dismissal is well-documented in the book, The Life and Times of Ward Kimball by Todd Pierce). Jack Donohue, kept telling Ray Bolger how to dance.” The film was dubbed a misfire by critics and at the box office.
Time, events and circumstances have a way of changing perspective. Babes in Toyland may not have fulfilled its initial expectations, but it emerged as a watershed project with a staying power that reached beyond the walls of movie theaters.
During production, pressure came from the top to future Disney Legends and Imagineers Bill Justice to get the film’s most important sequence, the “March of the Toys,” just right. “That was the hardest work I’ve ever done,” Justice told your author. “Walt said, ‘You guys had better make this part good!” As he said this, he used an illustration of the soldiers to sketch small rectangular objects below their feet. “See here, we had to have these magnets underneath every one of their feet underneath the set to keep them in place.”
For the Disneyland parade soldiers, Justice, designed the life-sized versions to look exactly as they did in the movie.
Like the Rankin/Bass images of Rudolph and Frosty, these designs are, to millions, the definitive look of holiday toy soldiers. During seasonal park events, their appearance rival those of Mickey Mouse, not only for the reactions of park guests and all the pictures they take but also from a marketing perspective. Countless holiday ads feature the soldiers as much as Mickey and various Princess castles. The art direction of Disney’s Babes in Toyland has made its way into thousands of park set pieces, merchandise and stage shows.
The toy soldiers were marching up and into a toybox three years later in Mary Poppins, during the stop-motion-driven “Spoonful of Sugar” sequence, also created by Justice and Atencio. Other props popped on The Lucy Show, courtesy of director Jack Donohue, who transition from Toyland to being director of Lucille Ball’s second sitcom. One of the life-size soldiers stood outside a toy shop in a 1977 episode of Wonder Woman.
In 1962, Walt Disney hosted Holiday Time at Disneyland, the first time a Disney theme park parade was broadcast on national television. The Toyland sets had been added to the park to create a walk-through attraction (which began with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea sets and continues today). In addition to the soldiers, various materials from the film can be seen in the parade.
Walt appears in front of a process screen (as opposed to Ub Iwerks’ traveling matte process) that had been used in movies for years—seen in Meet Me in St. Louis when Judy Garland did when she sang “The Trolley Song” and The Three Caballeros when Aurora Miranda made the town dance. Walt Disney was on a Burbank soundstage as moving film of Sleeping Beauty Castle and happy guests were projected behind him. This allowed actors to interact with him during his presentation. Among them are veteran actor Olan Soulé (voice of Batman for both Filmation and Hanna-Barbera) as the harried father and Paul Maxey as Santa Claus. The carolers include Portia Nelson (Doctor Dolittle’s sister in the 1967 musical and the cranky nun in The Sound of Music) to the left, and our own Disneyland Story Reader Robie Lester at the right of the screen.
Many viewers were seeing the Toyland soldiers for the first time on this broadcast. Decades later they the soldiers have become the in-person and broadcast equivalents to the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades.
Many consider Mary Poppins to be the total of everything Walt Disney mastered in cinema, all rolled into one magnificent movie. Babes in Toyland also combined, as best as it could, the elements of the businesses Walt and Roy Disney were developing in the previous decade. Toyland was a lavish extension of precisely where they were at that moment — television programs, a stock company of performers, backstage artists, experimental stop-motion, and cross-utilization at Disneyland… A “home-grown” production, Toyland was not (and should not be compared to) Mary Poppins, but without it Disney could never have realized which internal resources he should access for Poppins and which ones needed to be secured from elsewhere.
It’s easy to dismiss Toyland if viewed a as a theatrical “movie,” especially if it came from any other studio. Quite a few Disney live-action theatrical features create this dual perspective (and still do). At this time, every Disney live-action feature was modular, easily divided cleanly into segments running roughly 51 minutes each. When a made-for-TV project went over budget or had theatrical potential (like 1957’s Johnny Tremain), it would be edited into a feature first. Multi-part TV films were also edited into features for Europe (like two Annette films, Escapade in Florence and The Horsemasters).
It was obvious in some films. Babes in Toyland has two distinct halves, totally different in tone. The first is traditionally musical, with no attempt to hide the stage. Viewed on a home screen it plays like a lavish holiday TV spectacular of the fifties and early sixties. It is also like a very expensive Technicolor version of the Mickey Mouse Club on “Fun With Music Day.” There is even a big curtain reveal at the beginning, exactly the way “We’re the Mouseketeers” kicked off the latter days of the MMC. The choreography is by Mickey Mouse Club veteran Tom Mahoney, so there is a similarity in the way the men confidently hold their lapels as they dance and the ladies swirl in their crinoline skirts. Mouseketeers Bobby Burgess and Sharon Baird could easily join the ensemble. Director Donohue films captures it in the glittering style of television musicals.
The second half is a comedy-fantasy film along the lines of The Absent-Minded Professor (released earlier that year to great success). Oversized sets convey the characters shrunk to toy-size (recently effective in 1957’s The Incredible Shrinking Man). There is almost no relation from part one to part two except a few early story threads (finding Bo-Peep’s sheep) and the finale.
In the past several years, however, Babes in Toyland has been embraced as a family favorite like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and White Christmas. The Blu-ray, when seen in high-definition, looks like the TV special it was destined to be. It’s never been out of print since it’s VHS release and it is often presented on several platforms at once. A 1961 Little Golden Book was reprinted in 2018. Sometimes the opening weekend box office is the least important part of a Disney IP’s actual “legs.” Quite often the public decides what property will take on a life of its own. A very long life.
For something completely different, but also beloved, there is 1934’s Hal Roach/Laurel & Hardy beloved classic, later retitled and shortened as March of the Wooden Soldiers (Disney had nothing to do with title change, nor did the studio prevent the Roach version from being broadcast, even in 1961). Roach’s version is much more cinematic, offers more serious danger and highly quotable dialogue with the great Laurel and Hardy. The Disney version is dipped in colorful, campy candy, is a little closer to the original stage story, and stars Oz’s Ray Bolger and the winsome Annette. Both avoid the very disturbing, dark turn of the operetta when the Toymaker is revealed to be an evil man enabling toys to kill children on Christmas day!
The music on the “original cast” album of Babes in Toyland is not the film soundtrack. The back cover explains that it is a “re-creation,” recorded at Camarata’s new Sunset Sound Recorders studio in Hollywood. For Mary Poppins and the three Sherman Brothers musicals following it (as well as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), the term “Original Cast Sound Track” was coined, probably by Johnson. No other recording seems to have ever used that terminology before Poppins.
No arranger or conductor is listed for the Toyland album except for Camarata, and that is only for the special overture, which is not in the film at all. This overture was also added to the Buena Vista LP, 33 Great Walt Disney Melodies, which was mostly a collection of medleys. A different recording of the same Toyland overture arrangement was recorded by Camarata for his Great Victor Herbert album on London Records. (He was an executive at London before he joined Disneyland Records and continued to make albums for that label throughout the sixties and seventies.)
No arranger or conductor is credited on the LPs. There may have been several, as some of it sounds similar to the movie and thus has the George Bruns stamp, and others have Camarata’s stylistic touches. Since Sleeping Beauty and Grand Canyon had just been recently recorded in Berlin by the Symphonie-Orchester Graunke, it is also possible that Kurt Graunke conducted the music tracks with the Los Angeles vocals added.
A “second cast” album of Babes in Toyland songs (without the overture) was also released by Disneyland Records with some identical tracks (including “The Workshop Song” with Ed Wynn and “Never Mind, Bo Peep” with Ann Jillian) and others with alternate music tracks featuring a stellar group of studio singers including Teri York, Gene Merlino. Bill Lee, Thurl Ravenscroft and Ginny Tyler. Long after the “original cast” album was discontinued, these versions were available for decades on several different vinyl formats. Today, it’s the original album that has once again become available on download.
“I Can’t Do The Sum”
There is quite a bit of animation in Babes in Toyland in addition to the stop-motion soldiers. Some of it is in the form of gags that go by rather quickly (Barnaby’s piggy bank, Tom getting hit on the head), but Annette herself is combined with animated effects in this song. It is also interesting to note that the effect multiple tinted “Annettes” is not unlike Natalie Wood’s Technicolor whirling transition to the “Dance at the Gym” in West Side Story, released the same year. You can also compare the film version to way it was done on the “re-created” cast album.
Special thanks to Stacia Martin, Hans Perk and Bill Morgan for their consultation on this article.
Please be with us in two weeks on Animation Spin for more Animation-ette!
Warner Brothers star – Connie Stevens maybe?
I love the VIctor Herbert songs, and the Disney film version of Babes In Toyland is in my top 10 Disney movies of all time.
And let’s not forget Mel Leven’s quality contributions.
“Just A Toy” in particular is such a beautiful song, and Tommy Sands and Annette’s version of it, particularly on the Annette CD which includes a retake of its start is pure heaven.
Unlike your experience, the “second cast” record briefly mentioned in the last paragraph of this article was the only record available to me for 20 years. I hired it repeatedly for a few years from my local library in the early 1970’s, before finally obtaining my own copy.
Babes In Toyland premiered on The Wonderful World Of Disney on my local channel in 1975 (an abridged version spread over 2 weeks).
So my audio tape recording of the shows had to do for an original soundtrack until I finally managed to obtain a second hand copy of the soundtrack LP in 1997.
Those dismissing Babes In Toyland (1961) as a theatrical movie is similar to dismissing the color portions of The Wizard Of Oz (1939) with its stagey look. These people must have been very happy with the ghastly Drew Barrymore TV version with its so-called “theatrical look”. Give me Edward Colman’s glorious photography of this film anytime.
The TV version made in 1954, then amended slightly in 1955 (both available together on DVD) are delightful, and present interesting variations to some of the songs in the Disney movie.
The Laurel And Hardy version, complete with some strange costumes of Disney characters, is more comedy than music.
Unusually for an animation site, your article does not mention the 1997 animated version, which included variations of some of the Victor Herbert songs. But considering the result – perhaps that’s just as well.
There are some other Disney connections in the 1934 “Babes in Toyland”, not least of which is Mickey Mouse himself! He’s played by a monkey wearing a fully-enclosed mouse costume, and it breaks my heart every time I see the poor thing. Throughout the film Mickey throws bricks at the Cat and the Fiddle (he’s actually playing a cello) like Ignatz Mouse in the Krazy Kat comic strip.
Then there are the Three Little Pigs, whose first appearance is heralded by the song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” And speaking of the Big Bad Wolf, little Billy Bletcher plays the leader of the Toyland gendarmes.
There’s also some memorable animation in Annette’s beach party movie “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini”. The opening credits are done in very clever and colorful clay animation by Art Clokey. (Wonder how the Lutheran Church felt about him doing that.) And the “wild bikini” itself, a disembodied leopard-print two-piece that floats through the opening musical number before getting “stuffed” full of Beverly Adams, was animated by Jack Kinney.
I’m a Darlene man myself, but I look forward to Part Two!
“Babes in Toyland” is one of the most under-appreciated films in the Disney canon. As for me, I have never found it anything other than a sheer delight. It might be due to my first viewing of it, which happened during the weeks leading up to Christmas in the late 60s, when it was broadcast on the “Wonderful World of Color” TV show on two successive Sunday nights. I was young enough to be enchanted by it and not yet old enough to see through the contrivances of the plot and gimmicks. So my impression of it has remained fresh and enthusiastic through the years. Even though the film makes minimal reference to Christmas, it serves as a perfect treat for Christmastime.
One element that the “original cast” album and the “secondary cast” album have in common is the lavish production values. By comparison, much of the other then-contemporary output of the Disneyland Records/Buena Vista labels sounds more low-budget. The “Toyland” instrumentals and instrumental/vocals feature a full orchestra and chorus.
Annette was developing more confidence and poise by this time in her career, and she managed to pull off the leading role both effectively and memorably. “I Can’t Do the Sum” is perhaps one of her best screen moments. Another is her dance with Ray Bolger. In character as Mary, she doesn’t want to dance with him, so her dancing has to seem reluctant and forced, yet in order for the number to work as a dance number, it has to be smooth and graceful as well. She carries off this contradiction, and achieves the nearly impossible feat of dancing with Barnaby when she really doesn’t want to. Even Ginger Rogers in her films with Fred Astaire never had to overcome that degree of reluctance in order for a dance to work–although she, too, could dance while conveying conflicting emotions.
Annette in her costume for “Babes in Toyland” serves as hostess for the “Backstage Party” episode of “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” that celebrates the conclusion of the filming of “Toyland” and which evidently served as the Christmas offering for that year’s TV season. This is a delightful opportunity to see the cast members relaxing outside of the constraints of the story’s plot. Especially the Ray Bolger sequence, where his dancing is emphasized and his villainy is cast aside.
Probably most readers are aware of the Disney connection to the 1934 “Babes in Toyland” in which a doll version of Mickey Mouse (used by permission) plays a pivotal role in the climactic scenes, and in which the Three Little Pigs also figure prominently. (My only problem with that film is that instead of a proper finale sung by the chorus, it ends on what I would term a “cheap gag” that showcases its two stars Laurel and Hardy but does not serve as a satisfactory ending for a major musical. By contrast, the finale of Disney’s version is how the story should end, on a fairy tale happily ever after note.)
I’m hoping you will also give us a look at the Storyteller album narrated by Ginny Tyler. (Even though it has less to do with Annette.) It was one of the first to be released in the “Magic Mirror” series of albums….but of course you know that. It does feature some lavish book illustrations depicting Annette’s character as well as the others…another tie-in with “Animation-ette”!
The toy soldiers and some of the toys from BABES IN TOYLAND were reused for the opening live action scenes of Christopher Robin’s room in the Winnie the Pooh featurettes.
As I understand it, the retitling of the Laurel & Hardy “Babes in Toyland” to “March of the Wooden Soldiers” occurred long before 1961 and had to do with copyright issues from the rights-holders of the original Victor Herbert operetta.
One other connection between the two movies is the two characters Gonzago and Rodrigo in the Disney film appear to be pretty closely based on Laurel & Hardy.
For decades(!), Annette always made me want to become a better man.
I failed at that, natch, but there’s no doubting her compelling nature.
Oh well, if nothing else, Skippy is my go-to brand of peanut butter…
Walt Disney and Hal Roach were friends and cooperative in the shared characters in the 1934 film, plus there was a huge photo of Walt with Laurel and Hardy at very front entrance of The Walt Disney Story in the Magic Kingdom in Florida, so there is no doubt that Rodrigo and Gonzorgo’s resemblance was an affectionate tribute and not an attempt to duplicate, replace or “update” the irreplaceable Stan and Ollie. Walt was not insane.
Henry Calvin was a superb Oliver Hardy impersonator, playing him with Dick Van Dyke with the latter as “Rob Petrie” in a classic episode and on the Peter Pan Records version of the animated version with Larry Harmon as Laurel (we did a Spin on that).
Both Henry Calvin and Gene Sheldon were Disney TV stars in 1961 because of “Zorro.’ Gene Sheldon’s characters was also mute on that show. Their presence in the movie (TV special?) of “Toyland” was a big deal in the year it was first presented.
Whatever’s wrong with BABES IN TOYLAND — and I could make a list — Annette’s endearing performance and the fabulous toy soldiers supervised by Bill Justice and a superb crew are not among the film’s problems. I wish the film was better, but Ms. Funicello and those soldiers practically redeem the whole thing.
Why Unca Walt didn’t commission a whole movie musical (at least a little one) to be built around her talent and charm remains a mystery. I don’t know whether he really understood her unique appeal to her millions of fans.
For us in the last wave of boomer kids, the appeal of “Babes in Toyland” remains its thorough Disney-ness. We recognized Disney orchestrations, the sets evoked the old Mickey Mouse Club and Fantasyland, there were familiar Disney faces (Tommy Kirk in a surprisingly minor role), and of course we spot the toy soldiers in the parks every year.
Old enough to remember the “Backstage Party” episode of World of Color. Also old enough to remember being afraid of the walk-through at Disneyland — the trees really spooked me. We had a “Babes in Toyland” board game, the official comic, a punch-out book, and a hand puppet with a toy soldier head.
The Roach movie uses animation for just a few shots of the toy soldiers marching out of the warehouse; the rest of is pure live action and mechanical effects. Disney uses animation in almost the exact same way, likewise following the march of the toys with live action. The key difference is that Roach switched to actors dressed as toy soldiers, while Disney switched to props.
The original stage version of “Babes in Toyland” was in fact an imitation of a phenomenally successful staging of “Wizard of Oz”. The story was incidental to extravagant stage effects and specialty numbers, and adaptations tend to build new plots around some of the characters and settings.
The animated version and the bizarre 1986 television version (with Drew Barrymore and Keanu Reeves, among others) both leaned on Laurel and Hardy, unleashing giant toy soldiers to fight invading monsters. Maybe they just assumed that was from the original. “Shirley Temple’s Storybook” did a one-hour version that was more a long variety show sketch than anything else. Shirley herself assumed fake nose and warts to ham it up as a cackling comic witch (It’s on DVD). Back in the 70s I remember finding multiple stage versions for community theaters, stripped of spectacle and anything remotely scary.
Watching the movie now, something that jumps out is Annette, in song, regularly reminding Tommy that it’s all about marriage. There’s just a hint that Tommy NEEDS reminding.
Agreed…I hgihy;l resp[ect L&H’s, but Disney’s is the best..btwe anyone watch Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker,on CHannel Awesome/YpuTube),s commentary on it?
SJC in Norco,Cal
I am so sorry….but after viewing the (REAL) “Babes”, with L&H, (oooodles of times), this one ….umm…
‘”pales in comparison!” That’s just me!!!
Please don’t apologize, Wayne, you are among friends here. I have the Laurel and Hardy version memorized and it is a very personal favorite of mine too. It’s not a matter of there being “no comparison,” but rather being “why compare,” just enjoy both if you want, or pick one and that’s okay too. Nowadays remakes are “negative marketed” to make the earlier version seem “irrevelevant” and somehow lacking to create a demand for the new product (just like a car or laundry detergent). I have never heard of any instance in which Walt Disney did that with Babes in Toyland. His name was the initial draw and then public ultimately made their own choice.
I was wondering why Disney’s go-to guy, Robert Stevenson, wasn’t the replacement director for “Toyland”. I expect him to do an admirable or at least decent job with the project. Or was he already busy with another film?
NIC – I’m sure Stevenson was deep into both IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS and SON OF FLUBBER when BABES IN TOYLAND was in production.
Donohue was probably selected because he was both an experienced choreographer and a director (though mainly of TV Variety shows). It seems to me that Walt thought of BABES as an elaborate TV special (or a special episode of his weekly NBC show). Turning TV projects into theatrical releases was common during the 1960s – and designing his intended theatrical films to work as multi-episodes of the Sunday hour was the norm.
In many ways, Walt’s thinking-in-advance of the multi-pronged release of his live action features was way ahead of his time – a time that may have come during this pandemic era – when the studios are having to decide which way to release its features (wait for theaters, limited theatricals, direct-to-streaming, DVD/blu-ray, etc).
Here’s a harsh but worthwhile appraisal from Greenbriar Picture Shows, which goes into the huge marketing push behind it, and its enduring popularity with those who saw it as kids. Greenbriar is an excellent resource that highlights how movies were produced, promoted, and sold (especially at the neighborhood level), dispelling myths about fabled “hits” and “bombs”:
After reading it, all I can say it, sure, all valid, but awfully easy, hitting-the-side-of-a-barn criticism when you pretty much come up with one-liners for the flaws that are there if one wants to focus on them exclusively.
I chose not to do that and quite frankly was concerned that I was taking a chance. It’s swimming upstream to see the long-range appeal and influence of a work in the midst of its history of disdain. How delighted I was to see that there were so many positive comments.
Critics and audiences loathed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1971. Walt Disney did not care for Alice in Wonderland in 1951. Disney’s Babes in Toyland is a big colorful box of holiday candies, but not the kind made of cheap corn syrup. None of us here have any illusions about it, we don’t need our hands held.
The fact is that it is an important work and it has lasted. That cannot only be because of people who saw it when they were eight or the marketing campaign or the merchandise, which is not current. The movie still stands while most of the “stuff” is on ebay. The toy soldiers are iconic.
But Animation Spin is about music, records and animation. The cast album and the studio version of Babes in Toyland have, one or the other, never been out of print. The Golden Book is back in print. It’s been on VHS, DVD, Blu-ray and now Disney+. Someone is watching it. Every year.
One footnote; I am grateful to the Greenbriar article because it offered detail about something I did not mention before. It says that the film was “presented in full-frame despite the company’s 1961 directive to showmen that it be presented in 1:75 to 1” That may explain why, definitely on the VHS and probably on the NBC and Disney Channel broadcasts, the image was compressed and everything was slightly distorted–just enough to be missed by anyone transferring the film.
It bothered me so much that I asked Dave Smith. He insisted the VHS was in the correct ratio. Finally I got in touch with Stan Deneroff at Disney Home Video. He looked into it, called me back and said, “You’re not crazy. We fixed it and it is correct on the laserdiscs but all the VHS tapes are not correct.” He had my VHS re-recorded so that I own the only tape with the film unsquished. From that point on, the film was never distorted again.
A delight. I am one of a small group of millennials who grew up loving Annette, and this film is one of my favorites of hers. I was so charmed by it as a kid that I love it no less now that I can see its flaws as an adult.