tek's rating: ¼

The Dreamer of Oz, on NBC
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This aired in 1990, but I didn't see it until 2021, as a bonus feature on a Blu-ray set of The Wizard of Oz. There's a framing device of a young reporter who meets Maud Baum at the film premiere of that movie, in 1939, and she tells him her husband's story. The framing device is in black & white, while the rest of the movie is in color, which I think is kind of a neat nod to "The Wizard of Oz".

The story begins with L. Frank Baum (John Ritter) being introduced by his sister to Maud Gage (Annette O'Toole) at a party. The two of them begin courting, and after awhile they get married, in 1882. (That's against the wishes of Maud's mother, played by Rue McClanahan.) At the time, Frank was an actor, but over the course of the story he has a number of different jobs in different areas of the country. They also have a few sons. For awhile, they're living in the Dakota Territory, near Maud's sister and her husband and their young daughter, Dorothy. Also throughout the movie, Frank tells bits and pieces of a story he makes up to Dorothy, as well as his own sons and their friends, who all love Frank's stories. (We also see bits of the story enacted in Frank's imagination.) Eventually, Maud encourages Frank to write down the stories as a book, which at first he calls "Emerald City". He eventually has critical but not commercial success writing a book of Mother Goose stories in prose, and later has financial success with a book about Father Goose. Unfortunately, he can't find anyone who wants to publish "Emerald City", so he finally decides to publish it himself, and renames it "The wonderful Wizard of Oz". (Well, he pays a publisher to print 2000 copies, along with illustrations by W.W. Denslow.) And of course, as we all know, it turns out to be a smashing success, which leads to 13 other Oz books. Throughout the movie, we occasionally see that Frank has a heart condition, which causes nosebleeds. And Maud's story to the reporter concludes with Frank on his deathbed, in 1919.

Well, it took me awhile to really get into the movie, but it grew on me over time. I definitely came to care about the main characters (or I should say historical figures), and about the long process of the creation of the book, and all that the Baum family went through before finally finding success.

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