My last column was the first in a series about the Wizard of Oz. This column continues where the last left off, examining the 1925 silent film version of the Wizard of Oz, starring Larry Semon, Oliver Hardy, and 'G. Howe Black,' But don't worry, I finally get to Judy Garland before the column is over.
Illegal Oz Aliens
When Dorothy, Uncle Henry, and the farmhands played by Mr. Semon, Mr. Hardy, and the black actor given the phony, racist name arrive in Oz via a tornado-borne shack, aren't they technically undocumented aliens?
Not At All Dreamy
Unlike the Judy Garland version of the story, where the three farmhands are metamorphosed into the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, in the 1925 film when Hardy and Semon run from Prime Minister Kruel's guards, they switch into a Tin Man suit and a Scarecrow suit, respectively, while—and no real surprise here—the black actor given the phony, racist name later ends up in a lion suit as the Cowardly Lion.
She's Such A Drama Queen
In the silent version the rightful queen of Oz is stolen away from the Land of Oz, and—no huge surprise here—she turns out to be Dorothy.
Must Have Been One Of Those Jim Scarecrow Laws
Prime Minister Kruel demands that those responsible for keeping Dorothy from the people of Oz be thrown in the dungeon. Hardy's character blames the black character, Snowball, even though Hardy knows he had nothing to do with it.
The character played by Larry Semon speaks up ( well, not that you can hear, since it's a silent movie and all ) and protests the fact that Snowball was thrown into the dungeon, and he ends up in the dungeon as well.
Her Name Must Be Dorothy Doolittle
Even though Dorothy knows that Larry Semon's character and Snowball had nothing to do with her being kidnapped as an Oz infant, she does nothing to free them.
Unless You Are Someone Who Worked On Her Uncle's Farm, That Is
One of the intertitles in the movie says 'Dorothy and happiness reign in the Kingdom of Oz...'
Trapped in a lion's cage, Larry's Scarecrow character thinks a real lion is Snowball in his lion suit, and says to him: 'I have heard that these alley cats like dark meat - personally, I'm not afraid.
Dorothy Has To Be Kruel To Be Kynd
Dorothy, who early on in the film was flirting with Hardy's character to later flirt with Larry's character, ends up, at the end of the film, giving Mr. Semon a kiss but then going off with Prince Kynd.
They Had Scotch Guard In Kansas Back In The 1930s?
Switching now to the Judy Garland version of the film, in one early scene Dorothy is talking to the farmhand Zeke when she falls into the pigsty. He pulls her out, but there's not the slightest speck of dirt, mud, or pig shit on her dress.
I Said Dorothy Was A Drama Queen!
In trying to quiet down Dorothy when she was upset by Miss Gulch's threats against Toto, Auntie Em says 'Now Dorothy dear, stop imagining things. You always get yourself into a fret over nothing.'
She's Little Orphan Ozzie
By the way, what the hell happened to Dorothy's parents, anyway?
While inside the cabin as it is flying through the air, Dorothy does not refer to the storm as a tornado, but instead says to Toto: 'We must be up inside the cyclone.'
Everyone Knows Its Windy
Dorothy's last name is Gale.
It Adds Up To A Musical Mutt
Speaking of Toto, the band Toto did in fact get its name from Dorothy's dog, although they also considered the Latin meaning of the word toto ( 'total' or 'all-encompassing' ) as well.
Getting A High From Low-Tech Effects
The switch from sepia-tone to color when Dorothy leaves her Kansas house and enters the Land of Oz is one of the coolest special effects ever!
To Halsted Street, Apparently
The Yellow Brick Road starts off as a spiral and leads to the Emerald City, while the other half of that spiral is a Pink Brick Road, and nobody ever says where it leads.
If you know what happened to Dorothy's parents, you can e-mail me at PretzelLogicDave@aol.com .