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Oz on Film, Part Four: The First Feature Film

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While being similar to the Baum - Tietjens stage extravaganza The Wizard of Oz, the feature film The Wonderful Wizard of Oz also bore some marked dissimilarities to it.

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One immediate difference from the stage show (and the book which inspired them both) is that the Scarecrow is Aunt Em and Uncle Henry’s own. He inexplicably comes to life just in time to help Dorothy and the animals cling to a haystack for dear life when the cyclone carries them to Oz.

After having been excluded from the musical, the Wicked Witch of the West, now called Momba, is back with a vengeance. The Wizard, revealed from the start as a humbug in the thrall of the Witch, plans to make the fact known to everyone and to return to Omaha. Momba appears and refuses to let him, planning to continue ruling through him.

Meanwhile, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the animals, including Toto (the only real animal in the menagerie, which includes Hank the Mule) have landed in Oz, where Glinda transforms Toto into a much larger dog (played by an actor in a bulldog suit) in order to battle the Cowardly Lion. The two make peace and the Lion joins the group, which shortly encounters the Tin Woodman.

No wishes on the part of the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, or Lion are expressed, but nevertheless, Our Friends travel to the Emerald City to see the Wizard. On the way, they fall foul of Momba, who locks them away in her dungeon and sets Dorothy to scrubbing the floor.

Well, we all know how that turns out.

The bushy-eyebrowed Wizard is more than happy to receive his visitors, and, proclaiming the Scarecrow the new king, prepares to depart with Dorothy aboard his balloon.

Well, we all know how that turns out.

The film ends with a dance number, which has prompted many people who have seen the film to wonder what became of Dorothy in this version of the story.

In fact, she was in for more adventures in Oz, but the movies in which those adventures take place are, like the footage from The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays, sadly lost to the ages. Their scripts remain, however, and so we know what happened next.

The following film was called Dorothy and the Scarecrow in Oz, which contained much borrowed from the book Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion were reunited with the Wizard, and accompanied by "several new creations equally delightful," including Jim the Horse, encountered the Mangaboos. Also, somewhere in the proceedings, Dorothy's three friends finally got what the wished for from the Wizard.

The third film in the series was The Land of Oz, which, though no mention is made of Tip or Ozma, seemed to follow the basic outline of the story, including the revolt of General "Jinger," as a press release spelled her name. Dorothy and her usual friends were also on hand for the action.

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