The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910)

13 mins | Adventure, Fantasy | 24 March 1910

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HISTORY

“Folk lore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations. Yet the old-time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as ‘historical’ in the children’s library, for the time has come for a series of newer ‘wonder tales’ in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident.”—26 Mar 1910 Moving Picture World
       The 9 Apr 1910 Moving Picture World ran the following review: “The reproduction of a story of this character in motion pictures is an achievement of sufficient importance to attract more than the usual degree of interest. That it has been successfully accomplished needs scarcely to be said. The reputation of this house for producing striking and unusual films is too well established to require further description. It is an excellent film, well acted and clearly photographed.”
       According to the 26 Mar 1910 Film Index, “The opening of the story is in Kansas, the child is Dorothy, and in a cyclone. What a happy conceit to think of Kansas and a cyclone. She is whirled away to the country of the Munchkin and the Land of Oz. Arriving here, [L. Frank] Baum never lessens the interest ...

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“Folk lore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations. Yet the old-time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as ‘historical’ in the children’s library, for the time has come for a series of newer ‘wonder tales’ in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident.”—26 Mar 1910 Moving Picture World
       The 9 Apr 1910 Moving Picture World ran the following review: “The reproduction of a story of this character in motion pictures is an achievement of sufficient importance to attract more than the usual degree of interest. That it has been successfully accomplished needs scarcely to be said. The reputation of this house for producing striking and unusual films is too well established to require further description. It is an excellent film, well acted and clearly photographed.”
       According to the 26 Mar 1910 Film Index, “The opening of the story is in Kansas, the child is Dorothy, and in a cyclone. What a happy conceit to think of Kansas and a cyclone. She is whirled away to the country of the Munchkin and the Land of Oz. Arriving here, [L. Frank] Baum never lessens the interest of his tale. The scarecrow is splendidly comic and novel, so is the Tin Man, and cowardly lion is a fitting climax to a fine group of humorous ideas. Their journey with Dorothy to the Land of Oz has a meaning and a reason back of it that doubly enhances the interest. I maintain that the opening chapters of Oz, judged from the standpoint of ingenious and reasonable construction, equals anything that Grimm or Andersen ever wrote. Who is there to declare that this story is not the most satisfying of its kind that was ever produced in photographic pantomime? The scenes of the tale and the makeup and costuming of the characters have been faithfully copied from the drawings of that peculiar Genius [W.W.] Denslow, who may be dismissed with the statement that in the sketching of grotesque and fanciful characters America has yet to produce his equal.”
       This is the first film version of The Wizard of Oz, and appears to have been inspired by the 1902 Broadway musical based on L. Frank Baum’s novel, because the character of Imogene, the cow, which was not in the original book, had replaced Toto in the play in order that the production would not have to rely on a trained dog.
       A column in the 8 Jan 1910 Moving Picture World announced that the Selig Polyscope Company had placed Frank Baum, “the ‘Wizard of Oz’ man,” under contract as a producer.
       The 22 Jan 1910 Moving Picture World announced that Selig was issuing “beautiful four-colored lithographed posters by the Russel-Morgan Company in order that the exhibitor may make a special feature” of the film.
       See also Selig Polyscope’s sequels, Dorothy and the Scarecrow in Oz and The Land of Oz (both 1910).
       The George Eastman House restored thirteen minutes of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, not including the closing credits.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Film-Index 1908-1915
p. 692.
Film Index
26 Mar 1910
p. 10.
Moving Picture News
26 Mar 1910
p. 15tl.
Moving Picture News
21 Oct 1916
Section 2, p. 81.
Moving Picture World
8 Jan 1910
p. 18.
Moving Picture World
22 Jan 1910
p. 94.
Moving Picture World
12 Mar 1910
p. 377ar.
Moving Picture World
26 Mar 1910
p. 480ta, 485ts, 486tl.
Moving Picture World
9 Apr 1910
p. 553tr.
Moving Picture World
20 Apr 1918
p. 377ar.
NYDM
2 Apr 1910
p. 17r.
NYDM
5 Aug 1916
p. 36.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
WRITER
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum (New York & Chicago, 1900)
Based on the musical, The Wizard of Oz, music by A. Baldwin Sloane and Paul Tietjens, book by L. Frank Baum, lyrics by L. Frank Baum, and originally produced on the stage by Julian Mitchell (New York, 20 Jan 1903
21 Mar 1904).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Wizard of Oz
Release Date:
24 March 1910
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
13
Length(in feet):
1,000
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Farm girl Dorothy Gale, along with her dog Toto, a mule named Hank, a cow named Imogene, and a scarecrow, are swept out of a Kansas cornfield by a tornado and deposited into the land of Oz. Glinda the Good Witch appears and turns the terrier Toto into a bulldog in order that he can better defend his young mistress. After encountering a tin man and a cowardly lion, Dorothy is captured by Momba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and her army of soldiers and flying lizards. However, Dorothy dissolves Momba by throwing a pail of water in her face, and hurries to the Emerald City in time to attend the Wizard of Oz’s retirement party with her friends. Before the old wizard flies away in a hot-air balloon, he crowns the scarecrow to be his replacement as the King of ...

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Farm girl Dorothy Gale, along with her dog Toto, a mule named Hank, a cow named Imogene, and a scarecrow, are swept out of a Kansas cornfield by a tornado and deposited into the land of Oz. Glinda the Good Witch appears and turns the terrier Toto into a bulldog in order that he can better defend his young mistress. After encountering a tin man and a cowardly lion, Dorothy is captured by Momba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and her army of soldiers and flying lizards. However, Dorothy dissolves Momba by throwing a pail of water in her face, and hurries to the Emerald City in time to attend the Wizard of Oz’s retirement party with her friends. Before the old wizard flies away in a hot-air balloon, he crowns the scarecrow to be his replacement as the King of Oz.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.