The Wizard of Oz (1910)    1 Stars


The Wizard of Oz (1910)
The Wizard of Oz (1910) 


Director: Otis Turner

Cast: Bebe Daniels, Hobart Bosworth, Eugenie Besserer

Synopsis: An early version of the classic, based more on the 1902 stage musical than on the original novel.






I wonder if the irony of the Wizard’s dissatisfaction about his role as the ruler of Oz in this early – and earliest surviving – version of L. Frank Baum’s popular novel was apparent to the author. Although he was involved in the development of a stage musical of the story (which, together with the novel – to which it bore little resemblance – formed the basis of this movie), he spent most of his writing career insisting that this will be the last Wizard of Oz book while eventually writing a total of fourteen.

In this version, Dorothy (who was conceivably – but not definitely – played by Bebe Daniels) and her faithful dog Toto befriend the scarecrow before being swept into the Land of Oz by a storm. The trio of adventurers are also accompanied by a cow and a donkey as they endeavour to release the King of Oz from a spell cast by the wicked witch so that he can return to his previous life in Omaha.

As with most movies from this era, you probably need to know the story in order to understand what’s going on. Filmed by the Selig Polyscope Co., The Wizard of Oz appears to be something of a prestige production for the era, featuring impressive sets, make-up and special effects. Despite being a silent movie, it almost qualifies as a musical considering we’re treated to a nifty dance routine at one point. The actor playing the Scarecrow is believed to be Robert Z. Leonard, who would go on to have a successful directing career in Hollywood.

(Reviewed 16th December 2014)

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