THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ (1910)
aka The Wizard of Oz
Article 4855 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Otis Turner
Featuring Bebe Daniels, Hobart Bosworth, Eugenie Besserer
What it is: Fantasy
A young girl from Kansas is whisked away by a cyclone to the land of Oz, where she takes on a wicked witch named Momba.
I’ve never read the original L. Frank Baum novel, but I’ve always assumed that the story of the 1939 movie more or less followed the story of the novel. So I found this 1910 13-minute version of the story rather jarring, as it features some rather intrusive extra characters (a comic-relief mule and a cow, for example) and has a different order for certain events (she meets the Scarecrow before the cyclone sends her to Oz, for one). Then I discovered that this version of the story was not based directly on the book itself, but on a musical that was based on the book. That probably goes a long ways toward explaining the scrambled order, as well as the preponderance of dancing sequences, the latter of which are not very effective in the print I saw due to the fact that the music doesn’t match. There’s a couple of memorable moments, but more often than not it feels busy, confused and padded. It will be interesting to see how it compares with the 1925 movie version of the story, which I have yet to see. However, I can safely say that this version doesn’t hold a candle to the classic 1939 version.