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A Toymaker tells a bizarre story about how the Land of Oz was ruled by Prince Kynd, but he was overthrown by Prime Minister Kruel. Dorothy learns from Aunt Em that fat, cruel Uncle Henry is not her uncle, and gives her a note due on her eighteenth birthday, which reveals she is actually Princess Dorothea of Oz, and is supposed to marry Prince Kynd. She, Uncle Henry , and two farmhands are swept to Oz by a tornado. Snowball, a black farmhand soon joins them after a lightning bolt chases him into the sky. They land in Oz, where the farmhands try to avoid capture. Semon becomes a scarecrow, Hardy briefly disguises himself as a Tin Woodman, and Snowball is given a Lion suit by the Wizard, which he uses to scare the Pumperdink guards. Written by
Scott Hutchins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Slapstick showcase for Larry Semon bears little resemblance to the "Oz" story...
This WIZARD OF OZ is merely a frantic slapstick showcase for LARRY SEMON, apparently a silent comedian who is unknown to today's audiences and who died at a young age (39). He had a hand in the production and even designed his own Scarecrow costume, but the film is a curio that starts with a toymaker (again, LARRY SEMON) who tells a little girl the story of Dorothy (DOROTHY DWAN) from Kansas who, it turns out, is heir to be ruler of The Land of Oz.
But the story he tells has nothing whatsoever to do with L. Frank Baum's story as we know it from the '39 version starring Judy Garland. And this Dorothy is a grown-up young lady of 18 who bats her eyelashes and puts a finger to her lips in a coy manner as though signifying youthful uncertainty.
The only connection to the Oz story Baum gave us is the tornado, the effects for which are very good for 1925, and the combination of the Tin Man, The Scarecrow and The Cowardly Lion. OLIVER HARDY is the Tin Man (before his screen partnership with Stan Laurel), SPENCER BELL, a black man, is the Cowardly Lion and LARRY SEMON hogs the whole show as The Scarecrow. The best I can say for Lemon is that his costume and make-up for the role is laudable.
But the fragments of story used here are all over the map, the key to everything being the chance to have all of the performers involved in slapstick stunts. Only MARY CARR as Aunt Em is spared this indignity.
There are a few well staged moments that one can appreciate but all in all it's a bit too much for any adult to watch and I have no idea what children thought of this bizarre exercise in slapstick comedy.
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