The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910 film)

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
13-minute film clip
Directed byOtis Turner (unconfirmed)
Produced byWilliam Selig
Written byOtis Turner (unconfirmed)
Based onThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum
StarringBebe Daniels
Distributed bySelig Polyscope Company
Release date
  • March 24, 1910 (1910-03-24)
Running time
13 mins.
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a 1910 American silent fantasy film and the earliest surviving film version of L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, made by the Selig Polyscope Company without Baum's direct input. It was created to fulfill a contractual obligation associated with Baum's personal bankruptcy caused by The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays, from which it was once thought to have been derived. It was partly based on the 1902 stage musical The Wizard of Oz, though much of the film deals with the Wicked Witch of the West, who does not appear in the musical.


In Kansas, Dorothy and Imogene the cow are chased by Hank the mule, and the farmhands draw their muskets at the beast. Dorothy runs off to their field and discovers that the family scarecrow is alive. The Scarecrow begins to notice a storm building up and hurries the Mule, the Cow, Toto and Dorothy behind a haystack. A tornado appears overhead and carries the haystack away, thus letting it fall into the Land of Oz.[1]

In Oz, The Wizard in the Emerald City declares that he is retiring from being the ruler and he will be crowning a new leader. The wicked witch Momba appears and attacks the wizard and the paper disappears. Meanwhile, Dorothy is playing with Toto, while being stalked by the Cowardly Lion. The good witch Glinda decides to turn Toto into a real protector that can fight off large predators. While Toto befriends the lion, the Scarecrow finds the wizard's paper on a tree.[1]

The travelers continue onward and find the Tin Woodsman. They oil him and find Eureka the cat. When they enter a forest, Momba the Witch flies out the window as her soldiers come out of the cottage, they are all captured and led into the witch's jail-house. Dorothy splashes water on Momba and kills her. After defeating the witch, the travelers arrive at the Emerald City for the retirement party of the Wizard, who names the Scarecrow king and leaves in a balloon.[1]


The credits to this film are lost, and the identity of the director and actors are disputed.[by whom?]

There is no definitive proof who is in the cast, or who directed the film. Otis Turner may have directed the film, but Mark Evan Swartz points out that it's highly unlikely that both Turner and Bebe Daniels worked on the film, as they were in different parts of the country at the time (Turner in Chicago, Daniels in California), and neither had a strong impetus for travel. Dorothy does resemble contemporary photos of Daniels, which would make Turner's direction improbable. Michael Patrick Hearn disputes this, and has found ample evidence that both were in California at the time. At any rate, that Baum knew of Turner is confirmed by his spoofery of an "Otis Werner" in his Aunt Jane's Nieces Out West, a fictional account inspired by his optimism as an independent filmmaker.

Other reported cast members include Hobart Bosworth, Robert Z. Leonard, Eugenie Besserer, Winifred Greenwood, Lillian Leighton, Olive Cox, Marcia Moore, and Alvin Wycoff. Swartz suggests Bosworth was the Scarecrow and Leonard the Tin Woodman, but photographs of the actors make this appear unlikely and suggest that Bosworth was the Wizard and Leonard the Scarecrow. Based on photographs, and assuming the cast list is correct, it appears that Cox is Glinda and Leighton is the servant who pulls out a list of Union rules. Besserer is most likely Momba, and Greenwood likely to be Aunt Em. There is quite a large cast before the camera, and it is unlikely that they will all ever be identified. Michael Patrick Hearn emphasizes that this cast list is not contemporary with the film and may have no basis in fact.

Production history[edit]

The character Imogene the Cow did not appear in the novel. The cow was used as a replacement for Toto the dog in the stage musical. Many of the costumes and much of the make-up in this film, though notably, not of the Tin Woodman, resemble those used in the 1902 Broadway musical The Wizard of Oz. (None of the songs in the stage show, however, were used in the later MGM film which has become so famous.) As is clear from the plot descriptions below, the presence of Eureka the kitten is drawn from the commingling of material from The Marvelous Land of Oz and Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz; Eureka appears in the latter novel.

Long thought to be culled from footage from The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays (a feature length stage and film show created and presented by Baum in 1908), this was proven not to be the case when the film was recovered. Although the only known Fairylogue film footage has decomposed (and the interactive nature of the presentation makes the discovery of another print unlikely), the slides, script, and production stills are available (and many have been reprinted in books and magazines) and clearly from another production, which emphasized material from Ozma of Oz that the descriptions of the Selig films imply was ignored. This film, and its sequels, were created in the wake of Baum's loss of the rights to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and temporary licensing rights on The Marvelous Land of Oz and John Dough and the Cherub.

Other adaptations[edit]

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was later followed by the sequels Dorothy and the Scarecrow in Oz, The Land of Oz, and John Dough and the Cherub, all 1910 and are all considered to be lost films. Other Oz silent films include The Patchwork Girl of Oz, The Magic Cloak of Oz, and His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz (all released in 1914) and The Wizard of Oz (1925).[2]


The Selig Polyscope sequels are known only from their catalog descriptions, derived from press releases printed in The Moving Picture World:

Dorothy and the Scarecrow in Oz[edit]

Dorothy and the Scarecrow are now in the Emerald City. They have become friends with the Wizard, and together with the woodman, the cowardly lion, and several new creations equally delightful, they journey through Oz -- the earthquake -- and into the glass city. The Scarecrow is elated to think he is going to get his brains at last and be like other men are; the Tin-Woodman is bent upon getting a heart, and the cowardly lion pleads with the great Oz for courage. All these are granted by his Highness. Dorothy picks the princess. -- The Dangerous Mangaboos. -- Into the black pit, and out again. We then see Jim, the cab horse, and myriads of pleasant surprises that hold and fascinate.[3]

The Land of Oz[edit]

The Emerald City in all its splendor with all the familiar characters so dear to the hearts of children - Dorothy, the scarecrow, the woodman, the cowardly lion, and the wizard continuing on their triumphal entry to the mystic city, adding new characters, new situations, and scintillating comedy. Dorothy, who has so won her way into the good graces of lovers of fairy folk, finds new encounters in the rebellion army of General Jinger [sic] showing myriads of Leith soldiers in glittering apparel forming one surprise after the other, until the whole resolves itself into a spectacle worthy of the best artists in picturedom. Those who have followed the two preceding pictures of this great subject cannot but appreciate "The Land of Oz," the crowning effort of the Oz series.[4]

John Dough and the Cherub[edit]

No description of this film was given, but it does mention the name. It was unlikely to be considered a direct sequel, but is probably based on another L. Frank Baum novel, John Dough and the Cherub.

Home media[edit]

One of the films in the 3-disc boxed DVD set called More Treasures from American Film Archives (2004), compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 5 American film archives. This film is preserved by George Eastman House, has a running time of 13 minutes and an added piano score adapted from Paul Tietjens's music from the 1902 stage play and performed by Martin Marks. It is also included in the 3-disc edition of the 1939 film version. On this edition, John Thomas performs a compilation of Oz-related music by Louis F. Gottschalk.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "AFI catalog of Feature Films: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910)". American Film Institute. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  2. ^ Hogan, David J. (2014). The Wizard of Oz FAQ: All That's Left to Know About Life According to Oz. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781480397200.
  3. ^ "Selig Polyscope Co: Dorothy and Scarecrow in Oz". Moving Picture World. 6 (14): 571. April 9, 1910.
  4. ^ "Selig Polyscope Co: The Land of Oz". Moving Picture World. 6 (20): 848. May 21, 1910.

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