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Oz on Film, Part Sixteen: Trivia Time!

The Silent Era of Oz
The Silent Era of Oz
Montage by Peter Heimsoth

In this series of articles chronicling the movie adaptations of Oz, I have been mentioning in passing the titles of the Oz books which were published during the years in which the films came out, and it occurred to me that it might be informative, or at least interesting to the trivial mind (such as I have), to keep that going.

So, we know that when L. Frank Baum created The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays in 1908, it was partially to publicize Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, which was already out, and The Road to Oz, which was forthcoming.

1910 saw the publication of The Emerald City of Oz, the palace of which was seen in the Selig Company's The Wizard of Oz, the first big-screen depiction of the story.

In 1914 the Oz Film Manufacturing Company turned out The Patchwork Girl of Oz, based on the book published the previous year, and His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz, which inspired The Scarecrow of Oz, published the next year. 1914's Oz book was Tik-Tok of Oz.

Which brings us so far to when Larry Semon's The Wizard of Oz premiered in 1925. Ruth Plumly Thompson's The Lost King of Oz was the Oz book that year, and there was a small number of curious parallels with Semon's film. The book of course dealt with the return of Princess Ozma's father King Pastoria, who had been afflicted with amnesia and become a tailor, but by the end of the book he regained his identity. Approving of the work his daughter was doing, the King left her in charge and opened a new tailor shop in the Emerald City. Semon's film involves Dorothy-- who is sort of an amalgam of Dorothy and Ozma-- learning of her royal heritage from a letter signed with the name Pastoria.

To somewhat stretch the analogy, that book also features Dorothy traveling briefly back to America-- Hollywood, to be precise-- where she finds herself growing into the age she would have been if she had stayed home in Kansas. It is possible that this was Thompson's nod to the production Semon was putting together, and the fact that Dorothy as played by Dorothy Dwan was much older than the literary Dorothy.

In the movie screen's next Oz-related offering-- the first in the era of "Talkies"-- not only Dorothy, but the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and in fact the entire cast of characters would be played by children...

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