The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) Poster

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Fun To Watch
Snow Leopard22 March 2005
Although it is a rather unrefined movie, it's still fun to watch this early film version of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", and it has plenty of energy and ingenuity that make up for its rough edges. It is certainly of interest historically, and for anyone who enjoys the films of the early 1900s, it also works well enough as entertainment.

The story differs considerably both from the book and from the well-known 1939 classic, in large part because it was adapted from a stage production of the story, rather than from the original novel. But most of the characters are easily recognizable, and it's also quite interesting to see a very young Bebe Daniels as Dorothy.

The scarecrow and the tin man probably get the best roles, and in a number of scenes they engage in some amusing antics, making it worth looking for them even when they are not the main focus. It's apparently uncertain who played the scarecrow, which is too bad, because he is pretty funny, and his performance is not unworthy of being compared with Ray Bolger's performance in the wonderful Judy Garland version.

The adaptation does have a very stage-like look, but given that approach, most of it works all right. Some of the camera effects are pretty good for 1910, and even the ones that seem more obvious are at least interesting to watch.

In watching this now, it probably benefits from the endearing qualities of the Oz characters, which are so familiar from other sources. But its original audiences probably enjoyed it as well for its own sake, since it has plenty to offer, and it tells the story with lots of liveliness.
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Interesting Early Version of a Classic Story.
nycritic11 April 2005
TCM showed this silent short one night while showcasing their Treasures of the American Film Archive, and at 13 minutes, this version of THE WIZARD OF OZ is quite engaging. I can only wonder, though, at the reactions of an audience, circa 1910, going to theatres and watching this version of a story that 20 years later would become one of the most enduring classics not only for children but adults alike, because seeing the events portrayed here just only shows how little we had back then, how much we have now... and why these little shorts are worth preserving. On that basis alone I'd recommend viewing this version devoid of preconceived notions of modern cinema, but as an intellectual ride.
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Historically interesting
RDenial7 November 2004
This film is included in the "More Treasures of the American Film Archive" DVD. The running time is listed at 13 minutes. It kind of looks like a junior high school production of "the Wizard of Oz" with people dressed up in costumes to portray Toto, the Cowardly Lion, Imogene the Cow and what appears to be a donkey. The latter two accompany Dorthy to the Emerald City with the all the rest. The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodsman are not too bad, and not that far removed from the 1939 Classic. The Wizard himself looks like the 19th century Medicine Show man that the Wizard was supposed to be. It is interesting that they basically told the whole story in such a short time frame. This film is actually interesting to watch in a historical sense. For that reason I gave it a 9.
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An interesting bit of film and "Oz" history!
chucwill1 June 2000
Though primitive by today's film-making standards (the animals are portrayed by humans crawling around on all fours in animal costumes, the storm-filled sky is little more than a revolving painted sheet), this early version of the L. Frank Baum classic is an interesting bit of film and Oz history. Though only ten minutes in length, it manages to capture the main points of the story in encapsulated form. Certain well-choreographed (albeit naive) dance numbers indicate that it may have been conceived as a musical long before the 1939 version, and 9-year-old Bebe Daniels (later the hard-boiled Broadway star in "42nd Street") is a competent actress.
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Truly Enchanting...
sublimer134 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is the earliest surviving filmed version of L. Frank Baum's books, and when I heard that this 13 minute film from 1910 would be on at 7:45 on TCM, I got really excited... when it started, I was deeply surprised at how beautiful it looked 95 years later... whoever restored it did a fine job, might I add. The little girl who played Dorothy did a good job, even though she never spoke, and the addition of the cow from the 1902 stage musical was a riot! The tornado sequence was very good, and I'm sure it was ahead of its time. The sets were also fantastic, and the witch... well, you'll see for yourself. The Wizard of Oz is timeless, and this short film made me understand this much more than I had before. Now, even though I already LOVED silent films, I appreciate them more and more!
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Fascinating re-enactment of early stage musical
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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A Very Short, Early 'Oz'
ccthemovieman-119 December 2007
This is a shock, at first, to view. It looks so primitive that you can hardly believe what you're seeing. It makes the 1939 version look like today's advanced technology, in comparison. The sky, for instance, looks like a cheaply painted paper mache that just moves right to left. That is supposed to indicate a windy day and looks so hokey you watch this in amazement. But, it's 1910, and the very early years of motion pictures, so I am not ridiculing it. In fact, it makes you marvel how much they advanced in just several decades of film-making after this was made.

It is interesting to note some of the differences in the story, too, such as Nebraska being mentioned instead of Kansas, but this was adapted from a stage play, not the novel (as the '39 film was). Differences aside, it was still fascinating to watch because it's almost like going to school and watching your kids in some Middle School production! Once again, I am not slamming it because I realize when it was made and appreciate the effort....and historical value of this film. Also, it's hard to get much of a story in when the film's running time is only 13 minutes.

Note: a young Bebe Daniels plays "Dorothy." You can see this movie on DVD as part of the "More Treasures From the American Film Archives, which was released in 2004.
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For 1910, it's magical
MartinHafer12 September 2006
Okay, it's important to point out that you can't compare this movie at all to the 1939 classic--and for so many reasons. Film was just in its infancy in 1910 and full-length movies meant about 10-20 minutes. Sets and costumes were simple and often looked like they were taken right off the stage of a high school play. And, writing and acting as we know of them today, just wasn't invented yet. So I cut the early films a lot of slack and praise movies that actually had decent production values and provided some entertainment into the 21st century--most early films fail on both these counts.

The movie isn't really based on the books but on a stage musical and this at times is pretty obvious--especially when the characters start dancing for no apparent reason at all! But, aside from this odd way of telling the story, it's an adorable and interesting film--particularly as it has people in animal costumes throughout (not just the lion). It just seems very cute and makes watching this historical picture a lot easier! By the way, despite the good production values, this film is not as good as some of the full-length films by the Frenchman, Georges Méliès. His 1902 LE VOYAGE DAN LE LUNE has even better sets and tells a more coherent and watchable story--hence that is why it is rated as a 10 by me and this one only an 8.
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A Stage Musical without Sound
romanorum130 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The oldest surviving movie version of L. Frank Baum's famous story is 13 minutes long, and was filmed only ten years after the original story was published. Although the film looks almost like a college stage play, it is meant to follow the basic story-line of the stage musical. Movie technology was still primitive; there are no multiple cameras and close-ups. Humans wear animal costumes and use crutches (for the forelegs), and bounce and dance about the stage without any reason. In all, there are about twelve scenes.

In the beginning we see a barnyard stage scene with nine-year old Dorothy Gale (Bebe Daniels), Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, two farmhands, and a kick-happy mule. No one is identified, but audiences would have known the characters. Dorothy discovers a live scarecrow, and quickly, in the second minute, a cyclone blows away Dorothy, Toto, the scarecrow, the mule, and a cow into the Land of Oz. Here a title card tells us that Momba the witch has assumed most of the Wizard of Oz's power. The Wizard wants to retire to Omaha (in Nebraska, not Kansas!) anyway, and thus offers his crown to anyone who can defeat the witch. In the fourth minute Glinda the Good Witch alters Toto's size and shape so that he becomes a powerful force of good. Out of nowhere a lion joins Dorothy's group. In the fifth minute the stiff Tin Woodsman is encountered and oiled; he is now so loose that he can play a flute. In the seventh minute Dorothy's entire band, including different animals, is surprised by Momba and her soldiers, and taken captive. In the eighth minute Dorothy, learning of the witch's weakness, throws a pail of water into Momba's face, dissolving her. Momba's surprised and leaderless soldiers are then routed by the Tin Woodsman, who wields a heavy ax. In the ninth minute Dorothy's forces reach the Emerald City. One minute later the Wizard crowns the scarecrow as the King of Oz. A minute after that, happy girls dance on stage as the work day at Oz has been considerably shortened. In the twelfth minute, the Wizard flies away in a hot-air balloon. In the thirteenth and final minute, we see a parade of people, live animals, and fake animals on stage. Since it is 1910, production values are archaic, but the movie is all in fun. See it more than once and admire our modern technology by comparison. By the way, Bebe Daniels grew up an attractive woman; she became the first female lead for the famous comic, Harold Lloyd, in his earlier silent movies.
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Kirpianuscus8 April 2018
...because as each film from the early age of cinema, it is a trip in past. the mixture of admiration and fun remains the same. in same measure, the delicate line between theater and the new art of film, the solutions for adaptation, the interesting performances, the lovely "special effects", the rhytm of story. short, a splendid short film, an admirable work.
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so old it's almost surreal
paulwl4 July 2006
Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Toto bring a donkey and cow (played by Men In Suits) along with them in the cyclone (which is simulated by having them hug a big hay bale that turns around and around).


Toto is a real dog who turns into Man In A Suit #3 to fight the lion (Man In A Suit #4), who is not cowardly at all.

There is a line of chorus girls and another of palace guards. At the end, the guards ride in on REAL HORSES, which makes the Men In Suits (by now including #5, bug, and #6, frog, from the Wicked Witch's lair, and #7, kitty cat, who otherwise has no apparent role in the action) look really, really lame.

The cast of thousands and elaborate sets make you wonder why no one had yet thought of MULTIPLE CAMERAS, and EDITING. But that was a concept they obviously couldn't wrap their minds around, back in 1910. Who knows - maybe a second camera would have cost more than all the actors, dancers, horses, and animal costumes put together.
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Better then The Wizard of Oz (1939)
jacobjohntaylor125 January 2016
This is a great movie. 1939 is a remake. It not a bad movie. It a good movie. But this is the original Wizard of Oz. And it is better. This movie has a great story line. It also has great acting. The first remake from 1914 is a little better. But still this is a great movie. A very good fantasy film. See it if you can. 5.7 is underrating this great film. It is no 5.7 it mush better. This is a true classic. Bebe Daniels who played Dorothy Gale was a great actress. Winifred Greenwood who played the Wicked Witch is also a great actress. This movie is a must see. Robert Z Leonard who played The Scarecrow is was a great actor. See this movie. It is a great.
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Cineanalyst5 September 2009
I suppose the best thing that could be said about this primitive kiddy one-reeler from 1910 is that it's cute or somewhat interesting. As noted elsewhere, this adaptation is based more so on Baum and Julian Mitchell's 1902 play rather than on the original book by Baum. Everyone's familiar with the 1939 Judy Garland musical (if you're not, why are you here?), so this 1910 film can be interesting as comparison. Baum himself supervised three adaptations of his stories in 1914, beginning with "The Patchwork Girl of Oz"; all three have been available on video, as has a 1925 "The Wizard of Oz".

This 1910 Oz is very theatrical, and most of its tricks are theatrical, too: moving backdrops and strings for flying. A couple stop-substitutions are about the only thing cinematic here. A static camera, tableau style and staginess are to be expected in a film this early that was adapted from the stage. This film, however, features annoying spastic performances—even more so than in the 1914 trilogy. The filmmakers didn't have to do any cramming for a 13-minute adaptation, nor use lengthy title cards to explain the basic plot; in fact, much of the picture is spent by characters jumping around as though they're hopped up on sugar, including some dance interludes probably held over from the stage version. Furthermore, this edition was followed by two subsequent Dorothy Oz installments, which are now lost. I wouldn't recommend this kiddy flick, but, apparently, some like it.

Among the cast is a young Bebe Daniels as Dorothy. Daniels later worked in a few silent films by Cecil B. DeMille and is now mostly famous for her role in "42nd Street" (1933). Reportedly, Alvin Wycoff, who would be DeMille's longtime cinematographer during his early career, which included the innovatively photographed "The Cheat" (1915), also has an on screen role in this production somewhere.
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They Did OK for the Time
Hitchcoc27 May 2015
The costumes and plot are from a stage performance of this classic. It is disjointed and sparse in its portrayal of the story of Dorothy Gale. All the regulars are there, even though we don't get to know them very well. I've not read the book, so are the brain, courage, and heart a part of the story. Also, what about the duplicity of the Wizard. All that aside, it is a memorable thirteen minutes. There are even song and dance numbers (though there is no sound). It was interesting to see Toto transformed into a huge dog so he could protect Dorothy. The scarecrow is the star of this adaptation. He has all the loose and frantic movies of his successors. The plot is a bit dense. It could have used a bit more of an acceptable story line.
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Interesting early take
artpf12 January 2014
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.

Very strange short. Donkeys humping straw and then there's the tornado which for some reason they call a cyclone. The entire movie is done on stage. There's a witch called Momba. The story is not like the musical but it's an interesting film and the special effects are pretty cool for 1910
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The story exceeds the medium
Horst_In_Translation11 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" is a 13-minute film from over 100 years ago and taking this into account they did fine. You have to keep in mind that there was still no sound, even if Youtube versions may include some spectacular soundtrack that was added later. And another important aspect is the lack of color, which really hurts the material if you think of the bright feature film that is so elevated by the wonderful use of color. So yeah, the fact that this one here did not became a great film is not caused by any of the cast or crew. Film as a medium simply was not yet ready for the wonderful story of Dorothy Gale. 1910 was actually an important year for the character as there were no less than 3 versions of "The Wizard of Oz", this one here being the most famous. The main character is played by Bebe Daniels very early in her career. Silent film lovers will know she turned into a huge star afterward. An okay watch all in all, nothing less, nothing more.
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A real treat to see this film
Paularoc26 April 2012
What a treat it was to see this early film of the Wizard of Oz story. I did not know that there was a 1903 musical play and that this film was based in part on that and not entirely on the book. It does explain the cow – something that had me scratching my head, figuratively. I am most appreciative to those reviewers that provided this background information. While I wish the print I saw had been a little sharper (I could not read some of the documents), I nonetheless enjoyed it, particularly the cyclone scene and the dancing. While of course technically primitive, I still found it enchanting and how it must have even more enchanted the audiences of 1910. As some reviewers have pointed out, comparisons with the 1939 film are pointless but it is interesting what an endlessly fascinating subject the story of Oz is. Fortunately this bit of film history has not been lost.
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Early Versions
Michael_Elliott13 March 2008
Wizard of Oz, The (1910)

*** (out of 4)

Nice if strange version of the classic tale. The production values here are actually pretty nice and it's a rather strange trip seeing humans in outfits playing the various animals including the lion.

Magic Cloak of Oz, The (1914)

*** (out of 4)

The fairies of Oz create a magic cloak, which will give one wish to the person who wears it. Once again the production design is very good here with wonderful and magical sets. The story is quite touching and I'm sure kids would love this version just as much as adults. The highlight of the film is the scene where a horse (played by a human in an outfit) is scratching his butt up against a tree and tries to teach a monkey how to do it.

Wizard of Oz, The (1933)

*** (out of 4)

Pretty good Technicolor cartoon based on the book. The animation is rather nice and the scarecrow and tin man are pretty funny here as well. This was the first version to show Kansas in B&W and then Oz in color.
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