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Oz on Film, Part Twelve: The Oz Film Company's Manufacturings, Part Six

An advertisement in "Moving Picture World" about the Oz Film Manufacturing Company and its features.
An advertisement in "Moving Picture World" about the Oz Film Manufacturing Company and its features.Moving Picture World

The Oz Film manufacturing Company’s two Oz book-based movies, while having no stated continuity between them, can nonetheless be comfortably considered as happening in the same version of Oz, despite key characters (the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Wizard) being played by different actors in each picture. It can be easily deduced that His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz happens first, considering that the eponymous hero is brought to life and then rises to power in that movie, while in The Patchwork Girl of Oz he has become a citizen of the Emerald City, which is now ruled by Princess Ozma.

Trying to connect the two exclusively Oz-based films with The Magic Cloak of Oz is somewhat trickier, although one mystery is cleared up. The unknown and rather monkeylike critter which the Cowardly Lion fights with and scares off in Scarecrow is identified in Magic Cloak as a Zoop.

Indeed, including the Lion fighting the Zoop, more footage from Scarecrow was used in Magic Cloak when we see three familiar-looking witches besetting and then flying from Nickodemus; the same had happened to the Mule (possibly Hank himself) who helped Dorothy and Pon escape from Mombi.

An echo of the literary Oz is found in Magic Cloak in the brainless but dangerous Rolly Rogues, whose fanaticism for soup recalls the Scoodlers of The Road to Oz—though it must be pointed out that the Rolly (rhymes with “holy”) Rogues want people to make soup for them rather than to be soup for them.

The “Lazy Lion” of Magic Cloak has been misidentified as the Cowardly Lion by some sources, though of course the costume is the same, and indeed a tiger (Dave Anderson) turns up in the suit used for the Hungry Tiger as he appeared in the trial scene in Patchwork Girl.

Speaking of costumes, it is worth mentioning that they are uniformly brilliant. From the elaborate uniforms of soldiers who appear in all three films to the diaphanous gowns of princesses and other royal ladies to the furs and braids of kings and lords to the myriad animal costumes—some of those astonishingly lifelike—we can see where much of the budget for these films went.

The costumes for the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, it should come as no surprise, strongly resembled those worn by Fred Stone and David Montgomery, whose respective portrayals of those characters were still fond memories in many people’s minds (including Baum’s).

The sets were fancifully designed and always impressive, though some seemed a little too small to accommodate the large crowds which filled them. No sets were used to simulate outdoors; every exterior shot was done on location.

Allan Eyles, in his book The World of Oz, written to coincide with the 1985 release of Disney’s movie Return to Oz, said of Baum’s Oz films that for him the outdoor scenes did not work; he felt fantastical characters needed fantastical surroundings, but this Examiner disagrees; to me, the atmosphere of fantasy pervades each frame.