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The final scene from the 1910 production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The 1910 film version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was the first movie adaptation of L. Frank Baum's famous book — though it was made without the author's active involvement.

Fairylogue and Radio-Plays, Baum's 1908 multi-media stage show, had been an artistic success but a financial failure. The project left Baum owing thousands of dollars to his creditors, including the Selig Polyscope Company, the Chicago firm that had made the film segments employed in the show. As part of Baum's efforts to settle his debts, the Selig company won the right to make a movie of the author's best-known work. While scenes from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz had been filmed by Selig and featured in Fairylogue, the 1910 project was the first attempt to adapt the whole story. Yet Selig chose to made a single-reel version (thirteen minutes running time), so that the story is intensely compressed and somewhat incoherent.

With the company going defunct eight years later in 1918, the short film was lost for several decades until a copy was found in 1983.

Plot[]

Oddly, Dorothy meets the talking living Scarecrow while still in Kansas, pre-twister. The two plus Toto are blown to Oz riding a haystack, along with Imogene the cow and a donkey (human performers in animal costumes).[1] Once in Oz, Glinda enlarges Toto to be a more effective protector for Dorothy — meaning that Toto too can be played by a child actor in costume instead of a dog. The Travelers meet the Lion and Tin Man in the usual way.

The story's villain is the witch Momba, a combination of Mombi and the Wicked Witch of the West. She captures Dorothy and friends with her lizard soldiers; Dorothy melts her with a bucket of water. In the Emerald City, the Wizard of Oz crowns the Scarecrow as the king of Oz, before flying away on his balloon, leaving Dorothy behind. Her return to Kansas is omitted.

The film has elements of spectacle, with live horses and camels, and a marching troop of chorus-girl soldiers. In place of the solitary Soldier with the Green Whiskers, the movie provides a quartet of long-bearded guards.

William Selig was credited as the movie's producer; Otis Turner, who had been involved in the Fairylogue project, was the director and screenwriter. Dorothy was played by the nine-year-old English actress Bebe Daniels, in her second American film.

Cast[]

Without actual credits known to survive, the listings are known from documents plus research by historians but their suggestions might be mistaken.

The IMDb Page lists as:

In his 2000 book Oz Before the Rainbow, Evan Mark Swartz suggested that Boswoeth played both the Wizard and Scarecrow while Leonard played Tin Man, a role that hasn’t been accounted for by IMDb yet. Michael Patrick Hearn believes Greenwood actually played Aunt Em with Besserer as Momba but the evidence for this is unclear.

Film []

"The_Wonderful_Wizard_of_Oz"_(1910)_Earliest_surviving_Oz_film.

"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" (1910) Earliest surviving Oz film.


Trivia[]

  • Olive Cox’s harness broke leaving her suspended in midair during her brief scene.

References[]

  1. The donkey has sometimes been identified as Hank the mule, though Baum did not introduce that character until 1913. Imogene the cow was introduced in the 1902 stage adaptation of the book, as a substitute for Toto; an adult actor can inhabit a cow suit more easily than a terrier costume. Some other aspects of the film derive more from the stage version than the book.

External links[]

Site-logo Films Site-logo
Live-Action adaptations Silent films Fairylogue and Radio-Plays (1908) • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) • His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz (1914) • The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914) • The Magic Cloak of Oz (1914) • The Wizard of Oz (1925)
Modern films The Wizard of Oz (1939) • The Wonderful Land of Oz (1969) • 20th Century Oz (1976) • The Wiz (1978) • Return to Oz (1985) • The Dreamer of Oz (1990) • The Wizard of the City of Emeralds (1994) • The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005) • After the Wizard (2011) • Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) • The Wiz Live! (2015)
Inspired films Flying Monkeys (2013) • OzLand (2015)
Guest Appearances Inkheart (2008) • Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021)
Animated adaptations Feature films Journey Back to Oz (1974) • The Wizard of Oz (1982) • The Wizard of Oz (1983) • The Wizard of Oz (1991) • Lion of Oz (2000) • Tom and Jerry & the Wizard of Oz (2011) • Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (2014) • Guardians of Oz (2015) • Tom and Jerry: Back to Oz (2016) • Urfin Jus and His Wooden Soldiers (2017) • The Steam Engines of Oz (2018)
Guest Appearances The LEGO Movie (2014) • The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
Upcoming adaptations Wicked: Part One/Wicked: Part Two (2024-5) • Dorothy & Alice (TBA) • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (film) (TBA) • Toto (film) (TBA)
Short films After Oz (2007) • The Land of Oz (short film) (2015) • Dorothy in the Land of Stars (2017) • Unknown, Lost, or non-English Adaptations

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