The Wizard of Oz 1925 version – RetroIndieGamer’s Oz Movie Reviews

Welcome to the next Oz review. Today, I will be looking at the 1925 version of The Wizard of Oz.

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As you can probably guess from the title, year, and even looking at the film, this is a silent adaptation of the Wizard of Oz, much like the 1910 version I reviewed previously. And by adaptation, I mean a film that has Wizard of Oz as its title and happens to have a few of the characters thrown in.

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The movie begins as an old man is reading The Wizard of Oz to his young granddaughter, Dorothy. Yes. This adaptation actually has the original book in it! Too bad they don’t even try to follow it, though. Seriously! The 1939 version is more stuck closer to the book than this thing, and that wasn’t a faithful adaptation either!! The old man’s story begins in the land of Oz, which is under the control of an evil prime minister named Kruel. Let’s repeat that. An evil prime minister named Kruel? Is that seriously the best they came up with? The people can’t stand him and demand a search for the missing princess of Oz.

Fast forward many years and in comes an older version of Dorothy. She lives on a farm with her aunt and uncle and when her eighteenth birthday comes, her aunt tells her about how she was brought to them as an infant along with a letter. Kruel’s goons show up and try to make sure she never reads the letter. Then the movie turns into a giant slapstick comedy, and no wonder. The movie was directed by Larry Semon who was a comedian, and he is also one of the farmhands.

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Once you get to this point in the movie, you figure out quickly that this is just a giant comedy, especially when you look at the farmhands. If you look at one of them in particular, you might notice that he looks familiar. That’s because he is none other than Oliver Hardy of Laurel and Hardy fame. It seems that Larry Semon was one of the few people who worked with both of them separately before they became a comedy team. Hardy’s character is in love with Dorothy and the farm’s evil visitors try to use this to their advantage, saying that if she finds the letter they’ll never be together. Now if it seems like I’m jumping all over the place, don’t worry. It’s just whatever the movie calls a plot between comedy sketches!

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Dorothy eventually finds the letter and learns than she is Dorthea, the long-lost princess of Oz. I find this part interesting because in the original book series, Dorothy did become a princess of Oz. However, I’m convinced at this point that any slight resemblance to the books is purely coincidental, and only there to justify the title. Several more hijinks ensue and Dorothy, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, as well as the farmhands end up in Oz. Kruel tells his wizard to turn them into something to get rid of them. However, as you might expect, the wizard has no magical powers. So he ends up putting all of the farmhands in disguise as very familiar characters. Semon and Hardy are disguised as the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman respectively, and another farmhand named Snowball is disguised as the lion.

It is here that the prime minister attempts to marry Dorothy so he doesn’t lose his power. The Scarecrow finds out about this and tries to warn Dorothy, but is thrown into the dungeon along with the Tin Woodsman. Now we bear witness to one of the stupidest things I’ve seen in a while! Scarecrow ends up in a cage with a real lion, thinking that he’s Snowball in his lion costume. Then he sees the farmhand and runs. I mean, seriously? While this is happening, Prince Kynd, who rules over the people steps in and tries to stop Kruel. Wait. Kruel and Kynd? There were characters in the books with those names, but come on! Kynd is disarmed and Scarecrow shows up. He, along with Dorothy and Kynd, defeat Prime Minister Kruel.

 

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The confrontation between Kruel and Kynd

 

He then tries to plea with Dorothy, claiming to be the one who left her on the farm as an infant to save her from other court factions. Dorothy doesn’t fall for the obvious ploy as has him taken away, finally assuming the throne and falling for Prince Kynd. After what I hope was supposed to be a comedy sketch involving a biplane and a ladder breaking, the scene cuts to the sleeping younger Dorothy, revealing that she had fallen asleep while listening to her grandfather’s story and that the whole thing was a dream.

 

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Comedy sketches: Making movies worth watching for about 10 minutes

 

As you can probably tell from my tone throughout the review, I really don’t like this movie! It is a dull movie and isn’t very good. Now the idea of the movie was good in theory, but only if it was a ten or twenty minute movie. The only things I’d watch in this movie is about 10 minutes of Semon’s and Hardy’s comedy sketches. Then I’d turn it off. My final verdict for this film is a 4/10. The character names and situations are laughable, and the whole thing is a big comedy that didn’t know where to end! One last thing of interest is how much of an influence this movie appears to have had on the 1939 version. Both have farmhands who end up as the characters Dorothy meets in Oz, and in both the whole thing is revealed to be a dream at the end. The main difference is that the 1939 version is good! This one…isn’t. I wish I could say I was done with bad adaptations of The Wizard of Oz, but I have three more I’ll be reviewing in the coming months. Two from the 70s and one from the mid-2000s. If you are familiar with adaptations of the Wizard of Oz from those years, you probably know what films I’m talking about, and I hope I don’t find more! If you want to see this movie for whatever reason, maybe out of morbid curiosity or to see a few minutes of the comedy sketches, It’s available on Internet Archive and YouTube since it’s public domain. If you want to watch a GOOD public domain movie that also came out in 1925, try The Phantom of the Opera. I hope I never have to watch this again. The 1925 Wizard of Oz, that is. I fully intend to watch Phantom again.

One last thing of interest is how much of an influence this movie appears to have had on the 1939 version. Both have farmhands who end up as the characters Dorothy meets in Oz, and in both the whole thing is revealed to be a dream at the end. The main difference is that the 1939 version is good! This one…isn’t. I wish I could say I was done with bad adaptations of The Wizard of Oz, but I have three more I’ll be reviewing in the coming months. Two from the 70s and one from the mid-2000s. If you are familiar with adaptations of the Wizard of Oz from those years, you probably know what films I’m talking about, and I hope I don’t find more! If you want to see this movie for whatever reason, maybe out of morbid curiosity or to see a few minutes of the comedy sketches, It’s available on Internet Archive and YouTube since it’s public domain. If you want to watch a GOOD public domain movie that also came out in 1925, try The Phantom of the Opera. I hope I never have to watch this again. The 1925 Wizard of Oz, that is. I fully intend to watch Phantom again.

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