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The Magic Cloak of Oz

USA 1914
produced by
L. Frank Baum, Louis F. Gottschalk, Harry Marston Haldeman (executive), Clarence R.Rundel (executive) for the Oz Film Manufacturing Company
directed by J.Farrell MacDonald
starring Mildred Harris, Violet MacMillan, Fred Woodward, Vivian Reed, Juanita Hansen, Pierre Couderc, Frank Moore, Bernadine Zuber, Mai Wells, Raymond Russell, Leontine Dranet, Richard Rosson, Andy Anderson, Hal Roach, Jessie May Walsh
screenplay by L.Frank Baum, based on his novel Queen Zixi of Ix; or the Story of the Magic Cloak

silent
Wizard of Oz, L.Frank Baum's Oz-adaptations

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The fairys of Oz have woven a magic cloak that grants one wish to everyone who is given the cloak, but then they don't know what to do with it, so they decide to give it to the unhappiest being of all of Oz - who just happens to be Fluff (Mildred Harris), whose father has just died and who's presently travelling to Noland with her ill-tempered Aunt Rivette (Mai Wells), her brother Bud (Violet Macmillan) and her best friend, the donkey Nickodemus (Fred Woodward) - and all Fluff is wishing for is for her to be happy again

And wouldn't you know it, once Fluff and company arrive in Noland, Bud it made the realm's king and he and his sister decide to buy toys from the kingdom's treasury ...

Meanwhile Nickodemus seems to have been forgotten by everyone, and it isn't long before he is kidnapped (donkeynapped ?) by robbers. Nickodemus can escape the robbers soon enough, but they also hold a young girl, Mary, whom Nickodemus has taken an instant liking to, so he gathers all of the animals in the forest, and together they manage to free the girl and return her to her parents (Leontine Dranet, Richard Rosson).

Meanwhile, Zixi the Queen of Ix (Juanita Hansen) has learned about the magic cloak, and realizes that's exactly what she needs, because you know, even though Zixi is over 600 years old, she still looks mighty youthful, but alas, when she looks into a mirror, all she sees is the old hag she should be (judging from her age). So Zixi goes undercover as Fluff's maid, and once she has gained Fluff's trust, she bluntly steals the cloak and hightails it - but when she makes her wish, nothing happens - because the cloak simply won't work when it's stolen ...

At the same time, the Rolley Rogues have decided to take over Noland, simplybecause they want soup - the Rolley Rogues think about little else than soup and they would even go to war for it ... Now Fluff and Bud would be in desperate need of the cloak, but they find it gone, and Zixi too. Only eventually can they track her down, but she has already thrown the cloak away, and it takes the kids quite a while to regather it - and then they realize it's torn to shreds ...

The Rolley Rogues have meanwhile taken over Noland, but then Nickodemus arrives to reunite with his friends - but when he sees the city in the hands of the Rolley Rogues, he calls all the forest animals, and together they defeat the Rolley Rogues just like they defeated the robbersand free the city. - and when Fluff and Bud arrive back in town the battle is already over ...

In the end, the fairies arrive in Noland to recollect the cloak since the humans seem to not be able to handle it, but Bud insists to have one last wish - to be the best king of Noland ever ...

 

Possibly the best of the Oz-adaptations L.Frank Baum produced in the 1910's, the story - despite many subplots - is rather stringent and moves at a swift pace, it's short enough (less than 40 minutes) not to outstay its welcome, and its cast of characters is easy to oversee. No masterwork perhaps, but quite entertaining.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Out now from
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