The Sad, Century-Long History of Terrible Wizard of Oz Movies.
Would you like an exhaustive list? Sure you would...104 Years of Oz on Screen
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910 short film, silent)
This adaptation was made to settle L Frank Baum's bankruptcy, though without his direct involvement. Drawing on a previous 1908 multimedia presentation Baum had made (that included some no-longer extant film clips), this short takes some liberties, including the inclusion of Hank the Mule and Betsy. Most notable is that the Scarecrow comes to life on Dorothy's farm, then is swhisked away with her to Oz.
The Patchwork Girl of Oz
His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz
The Magic Cloak of Oz
L Frank Baum himself wrote and produced the next set of Oz adaptations, a trio of feature length silents he made for his own Oz Film Manufacturing Company. The first of which, The Patchwork Girl of Oz
featured the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Woodman, as well as iconic Baum creations like Ojo the Unlucky, the one-of-a-kind Woozy, Ozma, and the guilt-ridden carnivore The Hungry Tiger. Although based on the book of the same name, the intertitles featured little to no dialogue from the book, relying instead primarily on physical comedy. The film flopped so horribly that the second film, His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz
saw limited release. That film, which brought back Dorothy and the Wizard, along with perpetually lost but cheerful Button-Bright and the evil witch Mombi would, in a reversal, later be used as the basis for a new book by Baum, The Scarecrow of Oz
. The company's third and final Oz film, The Magic Cloak of Oz
was also made in 1914, but only saw release in 1917, carved up into two shorter films, which were later reassembled as well as possible. Although based on Baum's favorite story he had written, Queen Zixi of Ix
, the story actually takes place in "neighboring regions" to Oz and features none of the familiar Oz characters.
The Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum's eldest son Frank Joslyn Baum concocted his own story for this 1925 silent feature that had little to no connection with the book, focusing instead on the battle between Prince Kynd and Prime Minister Kruel, subtlety be damned. This film also received limited distribution as its production company went bankrupt. Trivia: the film co-starred a young Oliver Hardy.
The Wizard of Oz
The first animated take on the book came in 1933 and introduced to film the idea of showing Kansas in black & white and Oz in color. Though drawing on familiar aspects of the story, the cartoon eventually focuses on a magical egg that won't stop growing.
The Wizard of Oz
You've, uh, probably familiar with MGM's big budget musical Technicolor feature version with Judy Garland. You may not, however, have seen Ray Bolger's magnificent deleted dance sequence from "If I Only Had a Brain."
You also probably had no idea there was a deleted song, Jitterbug
. You probably did know that you can watch it synced up to Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon
in an experience beloved by stoned college freshmen everywhere known as The Dark Side of the Rainbow
Rainbow Road to Oz
Hot on the heels of the television debut of the 1939 film version, Walt Disney went out of his way to promote his own planned live-action television Oz adaptation, Rainbow Road to Oz
, but despite even going so far as to shoot and air preview segments
, the project was never completed.
The Shirley Temple Show
: The Marvelous Land of Oz
Shirley Temple's eponymous variety show devoted its debut episode to an adaptation of Baum's second Oz book, with an adult Shirley playing the role of Tip, the little orphan boy who, in a noteworthy twist, would later become Oz's beautiful and kindly ruler, Princess Ozma.
Tales of the Wizard of Oz
Videocrafts, the company that would later become a household name as Rankin-Bass (the fine people who gave us holiday traditions Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
, The Year Without a Santa Claus
, and the like), brought Oz to television with 200 short cartoons featuring Dorothy and friends. Sample the first episode
or go straight to this YouTube playlist of 64 different episodes.
Return to Oz
The same creative team behind TV's Tales of the Wizard of Oz
reunited for the animated tv special Return to Oz
, a sequel-cum-remake to the 1939 film done in the same style as the 1961 animated series. It's not currently available online, though some dude did record the opening sequence from his tv set with a camcorder.
Off to See the Wizard
Dorothy and her friends also made it to tv in the short intros and outros for a tv anthology that featured family films.
The Marvelous Land of Oz
Baum's Wizard of Oz
sequel got a low budget feature adaptation for the kiddie matinees. This fairly faithful musical version was directed by Barry Mahon (who also made Errol Flynn's last film, the b-movie Cuban Rebel Girls
Aysecik ve Sihirli Cüceler Rüyalar Ülkesinde
In 1971, the "Turkish __________" phenomenon, in which American films were cheaply and cheerfully remade/ripped off in Turkish came to Oz. (see also Turkish Star Wars
, Turkish Star Trek
, Turkish Superman
, etc.) The resulting film Aysecik ve Sihirli Cüceler Rüyalar Ülkesinde
is complete but w/o subs here
, or you can just watch this clip of the Lollipop Guild being slaughtered by dancing cavemen
for a representative taste of WTFery.
Journey Back to Oz (Pt 1) (Pt 2) (Pt 3) (Pt 4) (Pt 5) (Pt 6) (Pt 7) (Pt 8) (Pt 9) (Pt 10) (Pt 11) (Pt 12)
The "spiritual sequel" to the 1939 Judy Garland version, this animated musical, also based on Marvelous Land of Oz
, began its trouble production in 1962. Casting a young Liza Minnelli in her mother's iconic role as Dorothy, the production had ongoing financing issues that made production drag on for a decade. It featured an entire album's worth of' songs from Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen (authors of standards such as "High Hopes"
and "Call Me Irresponsible."
) A failure on its initial release, the film found success in syndication in the 1970s, with Filmation adding bizarre live action sequences with Bill Cosby as the Wizard
to pad the running time.
(aka 20th Century Oz
Australia brought us a theatrical "reimagining" of Baum's original talein the form of this "rock n' roll road movie." (trailer
; short clip featuring a, um, different take on the idea of "the Good Fairy")
A film version of The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical
, the hit Broadway show that reimagined Baum's Oz in the context of 1970's African-American culture, The Wiz
featured Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow and was directed by Joel "Bat Nipples" Schumacher. Watch the trailer
or this clip of its signature song, "Ease on Down the Road."
Thanksgiving in the Land of Oz
(Pt 1) (Pt 2)
Dorothy and her friends somehow end up in an animated Thanksgiving special with Sid Caesar. In addition to the popular characters from the 1939 film, this special also featured favorites from the books such as Tick Tock and the Hungry Tiger.
The Marvelous Land of Oz (Pt 1) (Pt 2) (Pt 3) (Pt 4)
This stage musical by Thomas W. Olson, Gary Briggle, and Richard Dworskywas taped and shown on television. Briggle also plays the Scarecrow.
The Wizard of Oz (Pt 1) (Pt 2) (Pt 3) (Pt 4) (Pt 5) (Pt 6)
This time, Japan's Toho studios had its turn with Baum's classic tale. This feature-length anime version was dubbed into English for home video and syndication in the US. Aileen Queen (the star of the then-recent Annie
film) played Dorothy and sang the songs, by Sammy Cahn and Allen Byrnes.
Return to Oz (YT preview with link to rental)
1985 saw the most ambitious yet to film a theatrical sequel to The Wizard of Oz
, in the form of Disney's Return to Oz
, starring Fairuza Balk. The lone directorial effort from Oscar-winning film editor and sound designer Walter Murch
, the film ingeniously sidesteps popular complaints about Baum's novels The Wonderful Land of Oz
(no Dorothy) and Ozma of Oz
(not actually in Oz) by combining the two into a rollicking adventure starring Dorothy and her trusty cohorts the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, as well as Billina the Talking Chicken, Jack Pumpkinhead, and others. While wonderful in its way, it's also um... sort of terrifying. Starting off with Aunt Em depositing Dorothy at an insane asylum for shock therapy
, the film also features the hideous, cackling Wheelers
, Princess Mombi's interchangeable heads
, and various other traumatizing moments
. See also the doc Return to Oz: The Joy That Got Away
, English title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
A 52 episode Japanese anime adaptation of Baum's first four books, this series was dubbed and brought to HBO by actor/producer Tim Reid (aka "Venus Flytrap" from WKRP in Cincinnati
) with Margot Kidder (Superman
's Lois Lane) as narrator. Outside of redubbing, the pernicious earworm of a theme song
, and accompanying abysmally dated CGI intro, the show was left mostly intact. Though some substantial changes do occur (the addition of Dorothy to The Marvelous Land of Oz
storyline, for example), the series is considered by and large to be one of the most far-reaching and faithful of Baum/Oz adaptations. The first episode
is online, as are scattered others. The complete set is not currently legitimately
available in English, but there are condensed "film" versions on DVD
The Wizard of Oz
Just a few years later, ABC aired a new animated series based on the 1939 film. It featured the songs and vocal characterizations of the classic film while putting Dorothy and friends on an adventure to save the Wizard from the Wicked Witch.
Here's that series in its entirety:
"Rescue of the Emerald City": (Pt 1) (Pt 2) (Pt 3) (Pt 4)
"Fearless" (Pt 1) (Pt 2)
"Crystal Clear" (Pt 1) (Pt 2)
"We're Not in Kansas Anymore" (Pt 1) (Pt 2)
"The Lion That Squeaked" (Pt 1) (Pt 2)
"Dream a Little Dream" (Pt 1) (Pt 2)
"A Star is Gone!" (Pt 1) (Pt 2)
"Time Town" (Pt 1) (Pt 2)
"The Marvelous Milkmaid of Mechanica" (Pt 1) (Pt 2)
"Upside-Down Town" (Pt 1) (Pt 2)
"The Day the Music Died" (Pt 1) (Pt 2)
"Hot Air" (Pt 1) (Pt 2)
The Wonderful Galaxy of Oz
This is pretty much what you'd guess it is: an anime sci-fi remake of The Wizard of Oz
. Although a 76 minute feature version was made for US audiences, it's a tough one to find in English. Here's the intro to the English-language version
Adventures in Emerald City (Pt 1) (pt 2) (Pt 3) (Pt 4)
Are you a Russian person, afraid you're being left out? You're not. Alexander Melentyevich Volkov's "loose translation" of Baum's book ("cheeky rewrite" might be more accurate) had been adapted as an animated series in 1976, but there isn't much of that to find online. You can, however, watch this movie in its entirety. For those who don't speak Russian, watch this musical sequence
which should work for all of us, because awesome doesn't need translating.
The Oz Kids
In the "tradition" of such execrable 90s phenomena as "James Bond Jr." The Oz Kids
gave us the animated adventures of Dot and Neddie (Dorothy's children), along with the children of various other Oz characters. Here are some clips from that show
Lost in Oz
Around 2000, Tim Burton tried and failed to get a film project called Lost in Oz
off the ground. David Hayter (X-Men
screenwriter) and Mick Garris (the guy who directs most of the Stephen King tv movies) managed to get a project with the same name to pilot stage. It starred Melissa George and Mia Sara and would have followed an adult woman who gets thrown into Oz. Here's the pilot
. Some pilots get picked and become television programs. Some don't, become nothing. This is one of the ones that became nothing.
The Lion of Oz (Pt 1) (Pt 2) (pt 3) (pt 4) (Pt 5) (Pt 6) (Pt 7) (Pt 8)
You know how the families of some deceased writers are fiercely protective of their relative's legacy? Roger Baum isn't like that. His series of books all but disregards his great-grandfather's books after the first one. This low-budget direct to DVD feature of his prequel story for the Cowardly Lion was the first adaptation of one of his books. The second, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
just finished stinking up your local multiplex.
The Muppets Wizard fo Oz
The post-Disney acquisition of The Muppets saw Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the gang take on The Wizard of Oz
, along with Ashanti, Queen Latifah, and, for some reason, Quentin Tarantino
. Remember how excited we all were when Jason Segel and the guys from Flight of the Conchords
helped the Muppets make a comeback? This is what they were coming back from.
This little oddity uses only dialogue from Apocalypse Now
and the 1939 MGM version of The Wizard of Oz
. (Pt 1) (Pt 2)
Tin Man (trailer)
This "dark reimagining" of Dorothy's story, aired as a miniseries by the Sci-Fi Channel. Variety called it a "semi-surreal adaptation of The Wizard of Oz stitched together from bits of The Matrix, Blade Runner, and Snow White to create a brooding fantasy that—understandably given the variety of influences—proves a bit of a mess" and whose "look and action sequences don't fully deliver the goods" to the "target audience of fanboys and their imaginary girlfriends." It starred Zooey Deschanel and Alan Cumming.
After the Wizard
Here's a trailer
for this low-budget independent film setting the familiar characters in the present day.
Oz, the Great and Powerful (trailer)
A big budget "prequel" to Dorothy's adventures in Oz, this blockbuster from last year stars James Franco, Michele Williams, and Mila Kunis. While not based on Baum's work, this film drew inspirations for a variety of characters and settings from Baum's beloved series. With the film a worldwide hit, a sequel is in the works.
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
We've covered this turd on the blue before
. Here's the trailer
, should you wish to subject yourself.