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Template:Infobox Film Wizard of Oz (1925), directed by Larry Semon, who also appears in a comic role (and featuring a young Oliver Hardy as the Tin Man), was the first major film adaptation of L. Frank Baum's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. (The film does not have the article "The" in the title; however, many sources erroneously add this.)

PlotEdit

A toymaker (Semon) tells an intriguing story about how the Land of Oz was ruled by Prince Kynd (Bryant Washburn), but he was overthrown by Prime Minister Kruel (Josef Swickard). Dorothy learns from Aunt Em (Mary Carr) that fat, cruel Uncle Henry (Frank Alexander) is not her uncle, and gives her a note due on her eighteenth birthday, which reveals she is actually Princess Dorothea of Oz, and is supposed to marry Prince Kynd. She, Uncle Henry, and two farmhands (Semon and Oliver Hardy) are swept to Oz by a tornado. Snowball (Spencer Bell, credited as G. Howe Black), a farmhand, soon joins them after a lightning bolt chases him into the sky. They land in Oz, where the farmhands try to avoid capture. Semon becomes a scarecrow, Hardy briefly disguises himself as a Tin Woodman, and Snowball is given a Lion suit by the Wizard (Charles Murray), which he uses to scare the Pumperdink guards.

Production historyEdit

The film departs radically from the novel upon which it is allegedly based, introducing new characters and exploits. Along with a completely different plot, the film is all set in a world that is only barely recognizable as the Land of Oz from the books. The film focuses mainly upon Semon's character, who is analogous to Ray Bolger's Scarecrow character in the 1939 version.

The major departure from the book and film is that the Scarecrow and Tin Man (played by Hardy) are not actually characters, but are in fact disguises donned by two farm hands who find themselves swept into Oz by a tornado. Dorothy is here played by Dorothy Dwan — Semon's wife. Her version of the character is a young, seductive woman who has just turned 18 and who finds herself in the middle of a love triangle between Semon and Hardy. In a drastic departure from the original book, the "Tin Man" is a villain in this version, as Hardy's jealousy over Dorothy leads him to become the henchman for the evil Prime Minister Kruel.

Some elements of the narrative have their roots in earlier adaptations of The Wizard of Oz. For example, Prime Minister Kruel has a predecessor in King Krewl, the antagonist of His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. The note explaining Princess Dorothea's true heritage is signed "Pastoria", a name used for the exiled King of Oz in the 1902 stage version of The Wizard of Oz and for the father of Ozma in The Marvelous Land of Oz and later Oz books.

ReceptionEdit

Many theatres that had originally booked this film never received it because its production caused Chadwick Pictures to go bankrupt, and distribution ceased long before it was intended to.

VersionsEdit

The film is in the public domain, and many DVD releases are available. A majority of the unofficial DVD releases contain a version of the film narrated by Jacqueline Lovell, who also provided narration for several other DVD releases of public domain Oz films.

A color-tinted print of the movie with an orchestral score is included in the 2005 3-disc Collector's Edition DVD of the more famous 1939 version (though not the more common 2-disc edition), along with earlier silent movies based on the Oz stories.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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