"First off, one needs to know that this DVD does NOT contain the famous 1939 "Wizard of Oz" film with Judy Garland. Instead, these are earlier films, all silent, based on the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. The author himself started a film company in 1914 to make these, so 3 of the 4 films here, "The Patchwork Girl of Oz," "The Scarecrow of Oz," and "The Magic Cloak," were made in 1914 by his company. The fourth one, "The Wizard of Oz," is from 1925 and is a comedy version that strays a great deal from the original story. It features an early performance of Oliver Hardy, one half of the Laurel & Hardy duo that formed several years later. These silent films are moderately interesting and clever, and often funny. The picture quality varies a good bit, but overall is good considering their age. The special effects are amazingly good for that era too. All the films are tinted in various colors, sometimes overdone for my taste. As is typical with silent films, these are accompanied by on-sceen text for dialogue and explanations, and all have a musical score throughout. Also, this DVD is a great value as it's over 4 hours long. In sum, these 4 Oz films cannot be expected to replace the 1939 "Wizard of Oz" with its sumptuous production values including the unforgettable Judy Garland, but these should be seen as additions to that and are worth seeing in their own right."
Oz before MGM
Noah Grenwood | Falmouth, MA USA | 01/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These movies are a must have for any Oz fan. Fans who are familiar with the other Oz books will be glad to know that at least one of Baums' sequels was made into a film-"The Patchwork Girl Of Oz". The film "His Majesty,The Scarecrow Of Oz"(1914)actually inspired Baum to write the book "The Scarecrow Of Oz" a year later in 1915. "The Magic Cloak" was based on a story written by Baum that was not directly related to Oz but due to the success of his Oz creation, the movie was to be set in the land of Oz. The 1925 "Wizard Of Oz" is a movie very distant from the book and MGM version, eliminating some main characters in favor of new ones as well as a different storyline; no pairs of ruby slippers, no munchkins, a yellow brick road or even a witch. The new music dubbed into the movie is good, however it is never matched with any of the action or scenes. It's about 2 different songs for each movie that keep repeating themselves when the other is done. Each movie is also tinted. "The Patchwork Girl" is tinted a dark yellow-almost orange. "His Majestey, the Scarecrow" is tinted green, "The Magic Cloak" is yellow and "Wizard Of Oz" (1925) is tinted blue. A fun collection of movies for a generous price."
The author as filmmaker
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 08/26/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In 1914, L. Frank Baum, author of 15 "Wizard of Oz" books, started his own film company. Baum scripted and oversaw production on all the Oz movies. Life-size puppets were used for some characters, while actors often portrayed various roles from film to film. The first three titles in this set are of particular interest, for these are how the author himself wanted his classic children's books to appear on theater screens. They are certainly a LOT different than the 1939 MGM movie and yet, still seem familiar.
"The Magic Cloak of Oz" - Woven by fairies, the magic cloak will grant a single wish to the unhappiest child in Oz. Violet MacMillan portrays King Timothy-- later she would be Dorothy.
"His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz" - Princess Gloria is the hypotenuse of a love triangle. She's in love with a gardener's son, while evil King Crewl has his sights set on her.
"The Patchwork Girl of Oz" - The first-ever Oz movie. The patchwork girl, created out of rags, is the perfect servant until she develops a free will. Future 'Our Gang' dirctor Hal Roach appears as the Cowardly Lion.
"The Wizard of Oz" - After his father's death, L. Frank Baum Jr. tried reviving the series. This second cinematic telling of the original Oz story had Oliver Hardy in the cast and featured a lot of slapstick comedy. The original 1910 movie was based more on the stage musical than the book.
THE WIZARD OF OZ (Two Disc Special Edition) is the ultimate version of the beloved technicolor Oz film and is highly recommended!
. Parenthetical numbers preceding titles are 1 to 10 viewer poll ratings found at a film resource website.
(6.2) The Magic Cloak of Oz (silent-1914) - Mildred Harris/Violet MacMillan/Fred Woodward/Vivian Reed
(6.1) His Majesty, The Scarecrow Of Oz (silent-1914) - Violet MacMillan/Frank Moore/Pierre Couderc/Fred Woodward/Raymond Russell
(5.9) The Patchwork Girl Of Oz (silent-1914) - Violet MacMillan/Frank Moore/Raymond Russell/Hal Roach
(5.4) The Wizard of Oz (silent-1925) - Larry Semon/Dorothy Dwan/Oliver Hardy/Virginia Pearson"
I loved it , except for the music
Erik Langdon | 06/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed this set,as I do all silent films,but the music was horrible.It's like they hired some guy with a keyboard and no imagination.The music in the Patchwork Girl was so boring and redundant that I had to turn the volume down after a few minutes,because it was driving me nuts.I realize these are ancient movies and you can't beat the price of the dvd,but a little more effort by the new composer would be nice.With that said,it's still a good buy for anyone who enjoys silent films."
Three charming movies, plus one atrocity
John Lazar | 09/01/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The enduring popularity of Frank L. Baum's WIZARD OF OZ books owes a great deal to the classic 1939 film adaptation starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Margaret Hamilton, and Frank Morgan. But there have been numerous adaptations of the Oz books made before and after this movie milestone. This collection consists of four of the earlier adaptations.
In 1914 Frank L. Baum formed The Oz Film Manufacturing Company with the express purpose of producing live-action versions of his stories. THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ, HER MAJESTY THE SCARECROW OF OZ, and THE MAGIC CLOAK OF OZ -- all from 1914 -- are surprisingly ambitious for independent productions of this nature. What they lack in big-studio polish they make up for in high spirits and ingenuity, and though these pictures probably won't peak the interest of average contemporary viewers (who don't appreciate silent movies anyway), film buffs will find plenty of antique charm on display.
Completely lacking in charm, antique or otherwise, is the feature-length WIZARD OF OZ (1925), starring rowdy silent-screen comedian Larry Semon, who also directs the picture in his typically heavy-handed, unsubtle style. With his penchant for overblown, violent slapstick and offensive racial "humor," Semon was the worst possible choice to adapt the whimsical Baum tales, and the results here prove it. This is the kind of movie that gives Silent Cinema a bad reputation. While its inclusion here is understandable, from a historical perspective, it limits this collection's appeal to silent-screen buffs and Frank L. Baum scholars. Fans of comedy legend Oliver Hardy (whose partnership with Stan Laurel was only a year or two away) may be interested in checking out his supporting role as one of Semon's foils, but even Ollie's most dedicated admirers will find this film hard to endure."