Friday, August 27, 2010

Dorothy Goes Hollywood!

A few days ago in Jared Davis's Royal Blog of Oz, Jared was discussing Ruth Plumly Thompson's 1925 Oz book, The Lost King of Oz, and he made a historical connection that I have never heard anyone make before. Here is Jared's Lost King blog.

In The Lost King of Oz Thompson's story primarily focuses on old Mombi (the witch from The Land of Oz) and the long-lost King Pastoria (Ozma's father).  Halfway thru the book Dorothy is walking down the road, encounters a Wish Way, and accidentally send herself back to the United States for a brief visit. She "lands" in Hollywood where she stumbles on a film crew making a silent film. Having returned to the United States after so many years in Oz, Dorothy begins to age rapidly and is suddenly an adult young woman. Luckily she wishes herself back to Oz, the aging process is reversed, and all is fine."

The connection Jared made was pointing out that 1925 was also the year the silent film version of The Wizard of Oz was produced and how Thompson referenced the film in Lost King. This ghastly film starred Larry Semon as the Scarecrow, and Semon's real-life wife, Dorothy Dwan, as an all grown up Dorothy Gale. The film is truly quite loathsome.

But it seems pretty obvious (after Jared pointed it out!) that Thompson was indeed working a subtle reference to the 1925 film (and offered an excuse for Dorothy to be an adult in the film) into her 1925 Oz book. The additional character of Humpy, the live stunt-man dummy, is clearly another bow to 1925 Hollywood and the film.

In 1939 Thompson was told by the Oz book publishers to tie her 1939 Oz book, Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, into the release of the 1939 MGM film. (I'll save all that for another blog.) So Jared's theory seems right on target.

So, ever wonder what Dorothy Gale would look like all grown up? Well, here she is! Perhaps she's wondering what on earth possessed Larry Semon to make such a bad film.


Ozmahime said...

hmm very informative and yes that movie is truly awful, especially the watermelon scene.

Though the idea of time catching up with you if you leave Oz is an intriguing one, I'd like to see in more stories; in my own take Dorothy is of "legal age" by Emerald City (by spacing the visits a bit further apart)...

Anyway props to you, and Jared for making this connection.

David Maxine said...


I'm not sure if you know this, but in the 1925 film the "Phantom of the Basket" (the sort of Ziegfeldesque girl in the headdress) is actually a semi-well-know female impersonator named Frederick Ko Vert!

It makes the wretched film slightly more interesting ;)

Jay said...

I was actually really surprised no one had thought of that connection before...

Actually, the movie is a funny movie for 1925. Unfortunately, it's a terrible Oz movie. Sadly, Oz fans are the only ones who watch it.

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