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THURSDAY

Back in that innocent age before militant cross-marketing, a popular novel might be adapted into a successful film, but that would surely be the end of it. No theatrical adaptations, no endless parade of sequels, no action figures at McDonald’s, right? Well, L. Frank Baum died in 1919, two decades before The Wizard of Oz was made into an enduring movie musical (pictured), but that doesn’t mean he didn’t try to build a multimedia empire on the success of his novel. Although he lived too early in the history of American merchandising to make a deal with any burger chains, Baum did mount a stage production of The Wizard of Oz and pen a string of sequels. And in 1914, he founded the Oz Film Manufacturing Company to bring his alternate universe to the big screen. The company lasted barely a year, but in that time it produced three movies. This program offers all of these rarely seen films: a full print of the 65-minute The Patchwork Girl of Oz, the first cinematic adaptation of the original Oz novel, and incomplete versions of The Magic Cloak of Oz (directed by Baum himself and based on his 1905 novel, Queen Zixi of Ix) and His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz, whose plot later served as the basis for another Baum book, The Scarecrow of Oz. George Lucas may not be jealous, but Baum was clearly ahead of his time. His films screen at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 18, at the Library of Congress’ Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free. For reservations call (202) 707-5677. (Mark Jenkins)