Young Jamie Goddard (Marcia Forbes) is a troubled girl who loves her collection of toys a little bit too much. The movie opens with her snuggling up to a fluffy toy soldier in a decidedly sexual manner. Jamie works in a toy store where she especially loves the dolls that her long absent father (Peter Lightstone) sends her as if she were still a child. Her apparent sexual attachment to them disturbs her mother, Edna (Fran Warren) who also resents her affection for her cheating husband.
Working in the toy store, Jamie meets Charlie Belmond (Harlan Cary Poe) who falls in love with her innocence(!) and shared loved of toys. The pair marry, but Jamie is unable to consummate the union. “I heard so many bad things, “she tells Charlie. Jamie’s refusal to have sex with with him is no doubt driven by the negative opinions of men Edna has shared, particularly of her own father. After a chance meeting with a maternal prostitute, Pearl (Evelyn Kingsley) and her pimp husband Eddie (Luis Arroyo) Jamie sheds her timidity and caters to some niche and unsettling appetites. All of this lurid melodrama leads to a climax that is both inevitable and disquieting.
Despite its disturbing concepts, Toys Are Not For Children isn’t particularly explicit. There is some nudity, but not that much. The story is as tawdry as they come, but director Stanley H. Brasloff focuses on character above all else. Jamie is a very tragic figure. Her perverse parents have damaged her beyond repair. Charlie is no less complex. He loves Jamie but has no idea how to help her. He just wants his wife to love him as much as he loves her. Even through all the chaos, it’s easy to feel sympathetic to the main players. Somehow, Brasloff mixes 95% grindhouse and 5% Tennessee Williams tragedy.
Toys Are Not For Children arrives on Blu-ray in 1.78:1 widescreen transfer taken from a new 2k restoration of ‘original film elements.’ This is quite an upgrade from the 2003 DVD release. Colors are much stronger across the board; the darker hues actually pop. Blacks are reasonably dense, while shadows offer a nice level of delineation. Only a few specks and minor lines appear throughout the print. Given the film’s age and low budget origins, this is an above average image.
The PCM monaural soundtrack does the job. Range is noticeably limited and there’s some slight tininess in the source, but dialogue still remains clear and concise throughout the proceedings.
English subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Film Historian Heather Drain and Kat Ellinger: The two women sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the film. They compare this film with other films of the era when discussing themes and provide production, cast and crew information, etc.
- Fragments of Stanley Brasloff (HD, 25:03) This newly filmed featurette author Stephen Thrower discusses Brasloff’s career with an emphasis on Toys. He offers a solid overview of the film’s production process.
- “Dirty” Dolls: Femininity, Perversion and Play (HD, 23:00) Film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas looks at various themes in Toys and the parallels to Todd Haynes’ Carol.
- Lonely Am I (Audio, 2:33) A performance of the films theme song by T.L. Davis
- Original Theatrical Trailer (HD)
- Contains a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil. The first pressing includes a booklet with new writing on the film by Vanity Celis.
Toys Are Not For Children (1972)
Movie title: Toys Are Not For Children
Director(s): Stanley H. Brassloff
Actor(s): Harlan Cary Poe, Fran Warren , Marcia Forbes , Evelyn Kingsley , Luis Arroyo , Peter Lightstone