The Wizard of Oz (1933)
The Wizard of Oz (1933)- Animated Feature Short Film
Director: Ted Eshbaugh
Writers: L. Frank Baum, Frank Joslyn Baum
Synopsis: A storybook opens to depict little Dorothy on the grey Kansas prairies, when suddenly a cyclone comes up, turns her world to color, and she lands on a Scarecrow, who promptly gets up and walks with her. Her dog Toto finds a woodcutter made of tin, so the Scarecrow oils him up and he accompanies them. They watch some animals reproduce before being ushered into the Emerald City by singing suits of armor and a lavish parade of overweight cops before meeting the Wizard, a devious little man who transforms eggs into uncontrollable forms, much to Billina's dismay.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Note: In honor of the recently released "Oz: The Great and Powerful", the upcoming animated feature "Dorothy of Oz", and the remake that's currently in development, I have taken it upon myself to review every film adaptation that's ever been produced about L. Frank Baum's book series about Oz; with the notable exception of TV shows, and cartoon series because there's simply too much of it.
The Wizard of Oz (1933)- Full Cartoon
Before Judy Garland's version, we had this animated short film
Although many audiences like to believe that the 1939 film was the first adaptation of Baum's classic story to ever portray Kansas in black and white; while portraying Oz in a lush technicolor setting. However, it was actually the 1933 short animated film that was the first to ever show a dramatized contrast between the two worlds, in an adaptation of Baum's work. Does it hold up?
Well, the short film is less than eight minutes long, so you can't really expect much more than highlights at best. Another thing worth pointing out is there's no cowardly lion in this short feature at all. The reason being is that in the 1902 stage play, the cowardly lion's role was drastically reduced to a comic animal. Since then, the lion's role was either removed in future adaptations, or played down in most cases. It wasn't until the 1939 film that audiences finally saw the lion play a key role in a feature film.
Although many fans of Baum's book series, or the classic 1939 film, have gone on record of hating this animated short, for the obvious liberties it takes throughout the cartoon. However, this cartoon was meant to be the first of many to be sort of pseudo-silly cartoon series of shorts based on the land of Oz, but due to legal issues at the time, this short cartoon wasn't even distributed during the time it was supposed to premiere.
The cartoon itself bears little resemblance to what most readers might be used to, when they think about "The Wizard of Oz", as there's not even a wicked witch or magic slippers, but there's some giant eggs? Anyways, before I go any further, I'll briefly go over the story first.
The film starts off in a typical black and white setting, when it shows Dorothy looking bored on her farm, as she plays fetch with Toto. However, an unexpected tornado comes, and whisks her away to a beautiful technicolor version of Oz. There's no time to introduce Glinda the good witch, or even the munchkins here, as she immediately lands on the scarecrow of Oz. They immediately become friends, and march down the yellow brick road together side by side.
They come across the tin man, so the scarecrow oils and cleans him up. Afterwards, our trio of heroes march down to the Emerald City, where they are greeted with a parade. As they enter into the Emerald City castle, they meet the wizard of Oz.
Unlike most versions of the wizard that audiences are used to, this wizard's motives are rather unclear per say, and he seems to be an actual wizard to boot. Plus there's a bit of a comedic scene, when one of Bellina's eggs tends to grow...
Granted, as I said before, many people that are familiar with the classic story may not care too much for this adaptation of Baum's first book. However, for what the film happens to be, it's really not that bad.
Sure, there's a lot of liberties taken, but you can say that about almost any film adaptation out there. Heck, even the classic 1939 film adaptation had it's share of liberties as well; such as the ruby slippers replacing the original silver ones because red would show up better in technicolor, at the time. Therefore, why should we expect anything different from this short lived cartoon?
Judging this animated short on it's own merit, it's surprisingly charming and funny in it's own unique way. In a sense, the film reminds me a lot of those old 1930's Disney cartoon shorts that often had story lines that didn't really seem to make a whole lot of sense, but were mainly created for comical effect it seems. On that note, this short cartoon serves it's purpose quite well.
Sure, it would've been nice to see this cartoon follow the story a bit more closely, but it's funny. Not only is the animation fairly unique, but it's also rather charming in it's own way. The animation seems fairly well done; even though it's obviously dated by today's standards. However, considering the time this film was made, it's not a bad animated short to say the least.
In the end, I'd have to give this cartoon a two and a half out of four. It's not the best adaptation of Oz that I've seen, nor is it one of the best animated shorts out there. However, it's entertaining nonetheless, as long as you don't expect too much out of it.