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Oz Before the Rainbow: L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz on Stage and Screen to 1939

Swartz, Mark Evan
Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD
Dramas, Musicals & Plays
Film Studies

Swartz artfully achieves his purpose of showing "that the infiltration of the Wizard of Oz story into our cultural bloodstream was not an overnight process" by tracking the influences and popularity of the many stage and screen productions of the story that preceded the 1939 Judy Garland film. And a big body of work those productions are. There were many Oz musicals staged between 1902 and 1918, and a raft of silent Oz films produced between 1908 and 1925. Swartz briefly profiles Oz creator L. Frank Baum but focuses his spirited account on the variety of those stage and film adaptations. He vividly describes specific performances, compares and contrasts them with others, and shows how each influenced the ones that followed, up to the 1939 movie and beyond to contemporary stage adaptations. Swartz's scholarship is evident in his many citations of primary source material, which, together with the book's profuse illustration in both black-and-white and color, makes the book irresistible to dedicated Oz buffs.

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