THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ (1914)
Article 4235 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by J. Farrell MacDonald
Featuring Violet MacMillan, Frank Moore, Raymond Russell
What it is: Fantasy adventure
When a magician uses a powder to bring a patchwork girl to life, his new creation ends up using a petrification powder on several people. In order to restore their friends to life, a quest is undertaken to find the items that will make a magic potion to restore the petrified ones.
It looks like L. Frank Baum, the author of “The Wizard of Oz” as well as several sequels, became a movie producer at one point and produced a few Oz movies based on his books. I’ve seen a few of them, and though I wouldn’t exactly call them great, I do think it’s interesting to see how the world of Oz was envisioned before the famous 1939 movie version of the first novel became a nearly insurmountable cultural artifact; any Oz movie made afterwards is under that one’s shadow, while these earlier ones were made outside of it. I do like the sense I get that Oz is a much larger place than envisioned in the 1939 movie, and even though several of the characters from “The Wizard of Oz” reappear here, they are minor characters and aren’t part of the main story. I like some of the strange creatures, especially the part cat-part box creature called the Woozy, and we get to meet a few of the other races of Oz, such as the one-legged hoppers. The story meanders at times, especially in scenes involving a mule-like creature and one of those flying monkeys. Still, the costumes are fun and the acting is energetic, and though it’s a bit of a mess, there is some fun to be had here. The movie isn’t complete; there’s a reel missing near the beginning, but you’ll figure out what happened.