11 November 2006 | JohnHowardReid
Patchwork Girl, Patchwork Movie!
A feast of quaint but super-hectic activity, presented before a solidly stationary camera (except for the effective concluding shot), this is a dated and none too interesting attempt by author L. Frank Baum himself to transfer his Oz from the printed page to the cinema. He is let down by the totally unimaginative direction (from well-known character actor J. Farrell MacDonald), the almost entirely stationary camera-work (though there are a couple of clever touches here and there) with its long, boring takes, and the inappropriately over-the-top enthusiasm of almost all the players.
As a curiosity, the movie would make a tolerable two-reeler, but 65 minutes of repetitious jumping, sliding, running, kicking, dancing, climbing, gallivanting, funning and frolicking, is, despite the picturebook tints and novel costumes of its picturebook illustrations brought to life, just far too much of a mediocre thing.
Now, if the highly imaginative original drawings by W.W. Denslow that accompanied Baum's first and most famous venture into the land of Oz, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), had been brought to life rather than the conventional Victoriana here displayed, the film would doubtless have captured an audience's interest far more than this ultimately wearisome parade. Unfortunately, there was no chance of that happy eventuality. Baum and Denslow had a falling out in 1901 when both men claimed that the instant success of Oz was primarily due to their own input. Therefore it's no surprise that producer Baum made it his business to ensure the movie's visuals were as far removed from Denslow's creations as possible.