Movie Review

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Movie Poster

US Release Date: 03-24-1910

Directed by: Otis Turner (unconfirmed)


  • Bebe Daniels
  • Dorothy Gale
  • Hobart Bosworth
  • Wizard of Oz and King
  • Eugenie Besserer
  • Aunt Em
  • Robert Z. Leonard
  • Scarecrow
  • Winifred Greenwood
  • Momba
  • Lillian Leighton
  • Union Enforcer
  • Olive Cox
  • Glinda the Good
Average Stars:
Reviewed on: October 20th, 2010
The Scarecrow and Dorothy in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The Scarecrow and Dorothy in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a sort of CliffsNotes, abridged version of the L. Frank Baum classic.  Released in 1910, it is the earliest surviving film adaptation of the popular children's novel.  Reportedly, the costumes and makeup here resemble that of the 1902 stage musical version of the book.

Although the plot is similar to the 1939 Judy Garland classic, at just 13 minutes it is obviously a very rushed version and there are some major differences as a result.

In this version, Dorothy meets a talking, moving scarecrow on her own farm in Kansas and they are both, along with a cow, blown to Oz.  The Wizard there wants to return to Oklahoma so he posts a notice that whomever can rid the kingdom of Momba the witch, will receive his crown.  Once in Oz, Glinda the Good Witch turns Toto into a lion (by which I mean a really obvious guy in a lion costume) and they meet the Tin Woodman who proceeds to play music as the cast does a dance after they oil him.  Dorothy sees the notice about killing the witch, she's then captured by the witch.  Dorothy kills her by throwing water on her, and the Scarecrow becomes king and the Wizard flies away to Oklahoma in his balloon.

They talk about today's youth having short attention spans, but you need one to follow this movie.  It's so rushed that really it feels more like an extended trailer for a movie than a movie itself.  They certainly don't waste any time on exposition.  Glinda for instance, rises up out of a bush on ropes that they make no attempt to hide, taps her wand to transform Toto, and then keeps rising out of shot, with no explanation.  I can only imagine how baffled you would be if you watched this movie with no prior knowledge of the story.

Like a lot of movies of this period, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is more interesting than it is entertaining. It's a curiousity and occassionally amusing, but more because of the filming technique than because of anything that happens within the story itself.

If you're interested in seeing this version of the story, it's availabe on YouTube.

Reviewed on: October 20th, 2010
The Scarecrow and Dorothy.

The Scarecrow and Dorothy.

With all the prancing and dancing going on, this film felt like it was trying very hard to be a musical.  It was a no brainer turning the 1939 version into one.  The tinman looks practically the same.  The film is dificult to watch as it is so old, and not very clear.  My favorite bit is when they hide in the hay from the cyclone.  It looks like the cow is humping the haystack and then the Scarecrow. 

Reviewed on: October 20th, 2010
Good sets.

Good sets.

Scott, you need to watch this again. Glinda does not turn Toto into the lion she turns him into a bigger dog (actually a man in a dog suit). Like in the 1939 version Toto initially protects Dorothy from the lion. I did laugh when Glinda popped up behind Dorothy. There is even a painted fighting tree in the background in this scene. In fact the art design and costumes are the best things about this version.

It certainly follows the original story closer than the surreal Larry Semon/Oliver Hardy version from 1925. One interesting note is that the Wicked Witch of the West is called Momba. The Oz books were very popular at this time. Between 1900 and 1919 L. Frank Baum wrote 14 of them. In the second book The Land of Oz there is a witch called Mombi, I assume that she was the inspiration for the name used here.

The Scarecrow’s and the Tim Man’s costumes certainly influenced the 1939 masterpiece. And the scene with the hot air balloon also foreshadows the 1939 scene. At the end when the Scarecrow and the Tin Man dance it looks a lot like the jitterbug number that was filmed and deleted from the Judy Garland version.

Finally, neither of my brothers mentioned the fact that future star Bebe Daniels played Dorothy, at the tender age of 9. She went on to make many silent movies and kept working into the talkie era. Her credits include Male and Female, Why Change Your Wife, The Affairs of Anatol, and 42nd Street.

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