After the success of the Oz books, L. Frank Baum moved to California. He became part owner of a film company, the Oz Film Manufacturing Company, that was interested in making movies directed at children (they were ahead of their time). The studio didn't do very well and after a couple years folded. The studio only made four feature films and a handful of shorts. For almost half a century, all of these films were thought to be lost. However, the features were discovered and made available to the public. This DVD, L. FRANK BAUM'S WIZARD OF OZ, includes three of those movies as well as the 1925 silent movie adaptation of Baum's THE WIZARD OF OZ. All four movies on the DVD are silent. They are:
PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ – with the help of Ojo, Unc Nunkie, and Dr. Pipt, the Patchwork Girl comes to life. Life goes well until the Patchwork Girl spills a secret potion on her friends and she has to search throughout Oz for them. This movie is notably because it has Hal Roach (the famed actor, director, and producer) in it as the Cowardly Lion. The movie also features Harold Lloyd in a small role.
HIS MAJESTY, THE SCARECROW – King Krewl is the cruel dictator of Emerald City. He wants his daughter, Princess Gloria, to marry the aged courtier Googly-goo. However, Gloria is in love with the gardner's son, Pon. Krewl hires the witch Mombi to freeze Gloria's heart. Mombi has captured Dorothy and Dorothy escapes with Gloria and Pon. They are joined by the Scarecrow. The later meet the Tin Woodman and the Wizard.
MAGIC CLOAK OF OZ – the magic cloak will grant a single wish to the unhappiest child in Oz. The cloak is given to Fluff and her brother, Bud, are given the cloak. Their wish places Bud on the throne as King. With the help of their animal friends, Bud and Fluff have to fight off the wicked Rolly Rogues.
THE WIZARD OF OZ – Dorothy learns from her Aunt Em that she is actually Princess Dorothea of Oz and is betrothed to Prince Kynd. Dorothy is thrilled. One of the farm hands has fallen in love with Dorothy, but she doesn't return his affection. On Dorothy's birthday, the evil Prime Minister Kruel sends his associate, Ambassador Wikked to Dorothy's farm to steal her birth papers. A chase ensues, a tornado comes, and everyone is swept away to Oz. To protect Dorothy, the farm hands disguise themselves as a scarecrow and a tin woodsman. Later on, another farm hand is given a lion costume to escape from a dungeon.
Out of the four movies featured on this DVD, I enjoyed THE WIZARD OF OZ the most. The story is the easiest to understand and follow. However, there are some elements in the film that are very un-PC which would be considered racially insensitive in today's culture.
This is a DVD that fans of L. Frank Baum might enjoy. It's also a DVD that film historians and buffs will probably enjoy. The movies featured here might not have contributed anything drastic to film history, but their association to Baum makes them significant.
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