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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910)

5.7
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An early version of the classic, based more on the 1902 stage musical than on the original novel.

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Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910)

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Hobart Bosworth ...
Eugenie Besserer ...
Robert Z. Leonard ...
Winifred Greenwood ...
Lillian Leighton ...
Olive Cox ...
Alvin Wyckoff
Marcia Moore
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Storyline

Chased off by the antics of Hank the Mule, Dorothy ends up in her cornfield, where she realizes her family's Scarecrow is alive. She helps him down and he takes a tumble on the turnstyle. A cyclone soon arrives and leaves Dorothy, Scarecrow, Toto and Hank spinning around on a haystack, with Imogene the Cow flying soon after. Soon after their arrival, the Wizard of Oz issues a public decree that he is a humbug, to make sure no one ever finds out. Glinda pops up out of the background and transforms Toto into a man in a bulldog suit to serve as a better protector for Dorothy. Then they encounter the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, and Eureka. Nevertheless, she is captured by Momba, the Wicked Witch of the West (suggesting Baum thought the other witches were Mombe, Mombo, and Mombu, in keeping with the council in _Queen Zixi of Ix_) and her flying lizards and soldiers. Dorothy defeats Momba, and they arrive at the Emerald City just in time for the Wizard's going away party. Written by Scott Andrew Hutchins <scottandrewh@home.com>

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Release Date:

24 March 1910 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Wizard of Oz  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the films in the 3-disk boxed DVD set called "More Treasures from American Film Archives (2004)", compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 5 American film archives. This film is preserved by George Eastman House, has a running time of 13 minutes and an added piano score. See more »

Goofs

When Glinda appears, you can clearly see the actress jerking into position when the harness has stopped pulling her up. See more »

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Version of The Wizard of Oz (1933) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fascinating re-enactment of early stage musical
7 July 2007 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

In some ways, I found this 1910 silent version of 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' more entertaining than the big-budget MGM remake. And in some ways, this silent version (made while L Frank Baum was still alive and writing more Oz novels) is more faithful to Baum's source novel (and its sequels) than the MGM movie was. More significantly for historical purposes, this silent film preserves some aspects of the hugely popular 1903 stage musical based on 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz', which deviated significantly from both the novel and the later MGM movie.

In the novel, Toto's single most important function is to be a sounding-board for Dorothy, so that she can express her thoughts aloud without talking to herself. In the stage musical (unlike MGM's version), it was impractical to have a trained dog performing various cues, so Toto was written out. Instead, for the stage musical, Dorothy's companion in the cyclone ride from her Kansas farm to Oz was Imogene the cow, played by two panto-style actors in a cow costume. In this movie, we see several 'animals' (including Imogene, and the Cowardly Lion) which are very obviously played by actors in costumes. Toto appears very briefly as a real dog, to be transformed almost immediately by Glinda into an actor in a dog cozzie, courtesy of a Melies-style jump cut. Refreshingly, Dorothy is actually played here by an age-appropriate little girl (more about her later), rather than a too-old teenage Judy Garland in a bust-suppressor.

In the stage musical based on 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz', the star performers were the comedy team of Fred Stone and David C Montgomery as the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman; they sang comic songs such as "Hurrah for Baffin's Bay" and performed specialities, notably a 'black art' routine in which Stone assembled the various pieces of Montgomery's disconnected Tin Woodman. (After starring in this stage musical, Montgomery died young; Fred Stone went on to play Katharine Hepburn's father in 'Alice Adams'.) Here in this silent film of the stage musical, there's not much singing, but we do see the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman performing a comical dance. The Scarecrow does a very impressive back handspring, made even more impressive because he immediately segues from this into a weird crawling dance with the animal actors. I was astounded to learn that this acrobatic Scarecrow was Robert Z Leonard, a vaudeville performer who'd worked with Lon Chaney, and who later had a long successful career as a film director, well into the talkies era. (He directed Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli in 'In the Good Old Summertime', among other credits.) One tableau sequence in this silent movie puts Dorothy and the Scarecrow in a forest where the trees have sinister faces; I wonder if this sequence inspired the talking-tree sequence in the MGM film. Elsewhere in this 1910 film, we see that Oz has some black residents ... in loincloths, escorting camels.

The charming and delightful Dorothy in this silent film, as I was pleased to discover, is Bebe Daniels, who later did much to inspire British radio audiences during the Blitz. Here, she performs a delightful dance. The nimble Tin Woodman is played by Alvin Wyckoff, who later became a movie cameraman. There are a couple of very impressive stage sets with ensembles of chorus girls in pageboy outfits, and the Melies-like entrance to the Emerald City looks like an enormous human face. I was hugely impressed with the flying effect used here for the villainous Momba the Witch (no, not Mombi from the Oz books: this is Momba with an 'a') and also used here for Glinda; the Glinda in this movie looks vastly more impressive than Billie Burke did as Glinda with that wastebasket on her head. In this silent version, when Dorothy uses a bucket of water to dissolve the wicked witch, I found the results more impressive than what happened in the MGM version. I'll rate this 1910 movie 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' a full 10 out of 10. I wish they had filmed the complete stage musical, even without sound.


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