Oz Film/Alliance, 1914. Direction and scenario: L. Candid Baum. Cast: Violet Macmillan, candid Moore, Pierre Couderc, Raymond Russell, Todd Wright, Vivian Reed, might Wells, Mildred Harris, Fred Woodward.  fans of the 1939 MGM version of The magician of Oz may already be aware that an important new book around that film’s production—The road to Oz, through Jay Scarfone and also William Stillman—is due for publishing in October. In respect of the occasion, I’m taking a new look at one of the Oz films that preceded the MGM version. There actually were a surprising number of pre-1939 Oz movies, beginning at the very least as early on as 1910 with several one-reelers developed by Selig. However I because that one have constantly been specifically intrigued by the function films developed by the Oz Film manufacturing Company—a motion-picture production agency established in 1914 through L. Candid Baum himself, the writer of the original Oz stories, to create films based upon his very own works. This, ns think, is a valuable facet that the Oz cinematic legacy: the original author’s vision, adapted to the screen by his very own hand. And, i hasten come add, it looks nothing like what one could expect. Because that those unfamiliar through these films, it’s crucial to be afflicted with in mental the profound affect the MGM production has actually had, in hindsight, on our perceptions that The sorcerer’s of Oz. For audiences in ~ the turn of the twentieth century, the title had actually a far different connotation: that signified Baum’s books, and also a musical stage version an installed in 1902. The stage show was aimed mainly at adults and included generous sheep of satire and also political jokes; today’s fan would discover it unrecognizable. Yet it was hugely successful in 1902–03, and also in fact was still gift periodically revised, and still playing in stock and local theaters, in 1914 as soon as Baum developed the Oz film company. Beginning with this differed background, Baum plainly felt bound come no certain scenario in creating his films. Instead he unleashed his imagination, indulging in a type of freewheeling whimsy as he concocted new adventures in the floor of Oz. His stock agency of players had Violet Macmillan, who had played Dorothy in the phase production; Pierre Couderc, an acrobat previously of the Folies Bergère; and also Fred Woodward, that donned a sequence of costumes to play a variety of fanciful animal characters. Lovely Vivian Reed was the “Oz Girl,” a kind of living logo for the studio, who presented each movie in a laugh closeup and then double in a featured role in the taking place story. In His Majesty, the Scarecrow that Oz she is seen as Princess Gloria, that scorns the suitor her father selects for her, and falls in love v the gardener’s young instead. She father, King Krewl, lives up come his name by directing a witch come “freeze” the Princess’s love to all mortal loves—after which she wanders listlessly through the film, about everyone and also everything v cold disinterest. Dorothy and her friends, the Scarecrow and also the tin Woodman, set out to enlist the aid of the wizard of Oz to break the witch’s spell. (The Cowardly Lion does appear in this film, but only briefly; right here Dorothy’s party is rounded out by button Bright—played by Mildred Harris, who is best remembered this particular day for having actually married Chaplin a couple of years later.)

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it is the an easy plot situation. Ns won’t offer away the resolution—but, in any kind of case, what’s amazing in the Oz attributes is not the plot resolution, but how the film gets there. His Majesty, the Scarecrow that Oz take away a meandering path, come say the least, with its 5 reels. Together the Oz company’s 3rd release, it is maybe a bit an ext cinematic 보다 its predecessors—but the still has really loose, spontaneous quality around it, together if Baum and agency are making up the story as they go along. In 1914, that course, the feature-length film itself to be still in a developmental state, however even compared to other modern-day fantasy films—for example Paramount’s Cinderella, starring mar Pickford, released in the very same month—His Majesty has actually a really impromptu look. Lest this sound favor a criticism, permit me add that this spontaneity is, for me, part of the charm that the Oz films. As we clock His Majesty, we have the sense that Baum is improvising a new fairy tale and has invited united state to join in the fun. The unstable edges only add to our enjoyment. The special effects are rudimentary, and generally no enhance for the illusions that Méliès was producing ten years earlier. Wonder transformations, as once the witch spitefully turns the gardener’s boy into a kangaroo, are basic cross-dissolves.


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In one scene Dorothy and her companions, traversing a currently on their method to the Wizard, sail your raft up a “Wall that Water” and back down the various other side—an result which the cameraman accomplishes just by tilting the camera on its side! But, again, this update simplicity is part of the film’s appeal. Together we celebrate the lasting cinematic tradition of The sorcerer’s of Oz, i think it’s crucial to remember all the facets of the legacy—including this endearing small side road, bearing the distinct stamp that the stories’ initial author.