As a rule, silent film is mysterious and elegant. But there are exceptions to every rule and my review of the Wizard of Oz, a 1925 silent film, didn’t go as planned.
This movie is awful.
I could not watch it. I managed to get through two scenes, with the music muted, so here’s my hot take on that:
We’re introduced to Dorothy early in the movie. This woman gives “problematic” vibes right away. It’s summertime and her elderly Aunt Em is outside doing manual labor at their farm while Dorothy wanders around in the bushes, wearing an indescribable hat, gazing at her bouquet of flowers, and giving a credible impression of someone who is experimenting with peyote. Noticing her aunt is very busy and has no one to help her, Dorothy walks over to distract her.
Cut to character assassination of Uncle Henry. Who knows why Dorothy is targeting him, but I can tell you Uncle Henry is the only normal person in this film.
He shouts some miscellaneous abuse at his employees, then sees his wife chatting with his freeloader niece, as if no yard work needs to be done. He storms over to confront them, and in one epic move, shoves Dorothy, seizes her bouquet, and tears it up.
At this point, a new character is introduced with the title card:
“With all the cinderelatives there must be a Prince Charming.”
Indeed there is! He’s the guy in overalls and a straw hat, listlessly picking up after the cows. Prince Charming, played by Oliver Hardy, hears Uncle Henry’s shouting and correctly surmises that Dorothy probably caused it. As her hapless boyfriend runs over to save her, Dorothy climbs a tree and watches as her irate uncle attempts to hit Prince Charming with a pitchfork.
Scene 2 begins with one of the creepiest characters ever to appear on film as he wakes up in Uncle Henry’s barn—a trespasser. After prolonged stretching, an egg falls on the Creep’s face. It must be filled with chocolate sauce or some other foreign material that normal eggs don’t have.
The Creep peers up at a hen laying eggs in a little corner above him. I don’t know how many eggs a hen lays at once, or how often they just roll the eggs out of the nest to fall on the floor, but this guy grabbed at least a dozen eggs and put them in his pockets.
Uncle Henry is toiling diligently out in the yard, because somebody has to work. He sees this lunatic and runs into the barn to order him off. The Creep starts prancing around and the eggs fell out of his pockets, but instead of breaking when they hit the floor, little chicks hatch. No one even considers the psychological trauma done to the chicks.
The Creep pirouettes around the property, getting into all manner of shenanigans, and occasionally gazing at Uncle Henry in an unsettling way. Then he reaches into his overalls and brings out a giant lollypop and begins lapping at it.
At that point, I was ready to abandon The Wizard of Oz. No tornado, no ruby slippers, not even a flying monkey to relieve us of Dorothy? But I persevered for three more minutes.
The Creep notices Dorothy and thinks he can woo her with the lollypop, and really… it’s as good a plan as any. Dorothy is talking to Prince Charming, possibly explaining why she left him facing her uncle’s wrath alone to go climb a tree. The Creep approaches her several times but the self-absorbed Dorothy doesn’t notice, even when he puts the lollypop (that was just in his mouth) in her pocket.
The Creep immediately regrets parting with the lollypop and unsuccessfully tries to snatch it back. When Dorothy sees the lollypop in her pocket, she and the Prince stare at the sky wonderingly, as if the disgusting lollypop was a gift from God. The prince encourages Dorothy to eat the lollypop. Dorothy tries it and makes a face. The prince also tries it. Then he chucks it over a fence, where a duck picks it up. As the Creep watches, the duck disappears through a crack in the fence, with the lollypop in its bill.
The Creep refuses to cut his losses. He wants his gross lollypop back, even though it’s been in his mouth, Dorothy’s mouth, the prince’s mouth, and the duck’s mouth. He fumbles around, finds a stick, and positions himself just behind the fence, and it’s clear he’s going to bludgeon the poor duck to death.
As it turns out, the duck easily outsmarted him and in a twist I didn’t see coming, projectile vomited on the Creep. Even though it was the best part of the movie so far, I stopped watching. I have my health to think of.
Does Dorothy go to Oz? Was the Creep apprehended and subjected to a psychological evaluation? I don’t know. Uncle Henry is the only person whose fate concerns me.
I can’t recommend enough that you steer clear of the Wizard of Oz, but here’s the movie link if you care to watch it.