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The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays

Updated on March 17, 2013

The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays

Director: Francis Boggs, Otis Turner

Writers: Otis Turner, L. Frank Baum

Cast: L. Frank Baum, Frank Burns, George E. Wilson, Wallace Illington, Bronson Ward Jr., Paul de Dupont, Will Morrison, Clarence Nearing, Sam 'Smiling' Jones, Joseph Schrode, Burns Wantling, D.W. Clapperton, Charles W. Smith, Daniel Heath, Joe Finley, Samuel Woods, Dudley Burton, Romola Remus, Maud Harrington, Evelyn Judson, Josephine Brewster, Grace Elder, Geo. Weatherbee, Tommy Dean, Lillian Swartz, Minnie Brown, Tom Persons, Annabel Jephson, Mrs. Bostwick, William Gillespie, Delilah Leitzell, Gladys Walton

Synopsis: L. Frank Baum would appear in a white suit and present his live actors, slide shows and films as a live travelogue presentation of his popular fantasies. Highlights include Dorothy being swept to Oz in various ways, such as with back-projection tornadoes and storms in a chicken coop. Lack of financial backing forced the show to fold after appearing in only two cities, despite being a critical and commercial success.

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Note: In honor of the new prequel, "Oz: The Great and Powerful", and the upcoming remake that's currently in development, I've taken it upon myself to review every cinematic Oz adaptation ever released; with the notable exception of all the TV series and mini series because there's too much of it.

The lost Oz film that'll never be seen again...

For those who read my review of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910)"that was the earliest surviving film ever made based on L. Frank Baum's literary work of Oz. However, that wasn't his first attempt, as "The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays" was the first one that was released, as it made it's debut in 1908. Sadly, there has been no surviving copy of this movie, so I won't be able to review it for my readers. However, that doesn't mean that we can't go over it's history a bit, as it does deserve some recognition for being the first cinematic Oz film ever made.

According to most sources, L. Frank Baum would appear in a white suit presenting audiences with a show of live stage actors, slide shows, and films, to present as a live travelogue for his epic fantasy worlds. Highlights of the show included Dorothy being whisked away into Oz in various ways; via a back projection of a tornado sequence, and a storm in the chicken coop.

According to most sources, the show was quite popular among audiences and critics. Unfortunately, L. Frank Baum wasn't able to secure enough financial backing for the show to continue on after only appearing in two cities. To this date, nobody really knows what happened to the lost copy of this movie.

It's been said that the film portion of this show contained about sixty minutes worth of material based on the Wizard, land and Ozma of Oz. It also featured a twenty minute preview with Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, while books were being sold in the lobby; which weren't even published yet at that time. Plus, there was even a 40 minute portion featuring John Dough and the Cherub.

In addition to the show, there was an hour long stage play where the actors, from the film portion, appeared and interacted with L. Frank Baum, and a series of magic lantern displays. The show was also said to contain to a series of hand tinted magic lantern slides, to impress audiences. L. Frank Baum would appear to be giving the audience something of a two hour lecture during each show, as he interacted with his own creations. Needless to say, the show was hailed by many critics and audiences for it's creativity, but as I mentioned before, this show never made it past it's second run.

It originally opened in the Grand Rapids in Michigan, on September 24, 1908. And, it made it's last showing on December 16, 1908, in New York City. It was advertised to run until December 31, 1908, but sadly it never made it that far.

The film portion of the show was produced by the Selig Polyscope Company in Chicago, and then were hand-colored in Paris by Duval Freres, in a process known as "Radio-Play"; which mainly refers to how Baum claimed that he had purchased the American rights to a film-coloring process developed by French artist Michel Radio. Meaning that the "Radio" part in the title was not referring to the broadcast medium that would become widely popular later on, but mainly to the man, who developed the coloring process.

Although most historians have had trouble tracing back the origins of the man, whom Baum referred to that developed the coloring process. However, there's been no other plausible explanation found at this time. The silent film portion of the show was said to be based on the first three Oz books, and Baum's eldest son, Frank Joslyn Baum, served as a projectionist for the show.

To this date, "The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays" is earliest known Oz film ever attempted, but sadly no surviving copy of the film portion is known to have survived. However, the script, and the slides for the show, have been surprisingly preserved over the years.

According to some sources, the very first map of Oz was revealed in a slideshow from "Fairylogue and Radio-Plays" as well.


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    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 5 years ago

      thanks geekdom. I'm glad you liked the hub. :)

    • Geekdom profile image

      Geekdom 5 years ago

      Interesting +1

      I love reading these kind of histories. So fascinating learn about how the classics are translated over the different mediums.