It has been rumored that an actress named Mildred Harris (one day to become Mrs. Charlie Chaplin) appeared briefly in The Patchwork Girl of Oz (The Oz Film Manufacturing Company, 1914) as Dorothy Gale. This is not so, but she did have a featured role in the company’s other Oz-based feature, His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz. However, though Dorothy was in that film, she was personified by Violet MacMillan, who played Ojo in Patchwork Girl.
Much from Baum’s book The Scarecrow of Oz was included in the plot, but Baum (who was credited as director even though J. Farrell McDonald was) also spooned in more than a few elements of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Indeed, the film was at one time known as The New Wizard of Oz.
Dorothy arrives several minutes into the picture, finding herself in Oz by means unspecified and is at once unceremoniously seized by the witch Mombi (Mai Wells), who carts her off to be her servant.
Much had already happened before this. As in the book, the beautiful Princess Gloria (Vivian Reed) is in love with Pon (Todd Wright), who, being a lowly son of a gardener, has not the approval of Gloria’s wicked uncle King Krewl (Raymond Russell). The king seeks Mombi’s magical aid so that Gloria will stop loving Pon and then be married off to Lord Googly-Goo (Arthur Smollett).
Meanwhile, our eponymous strawman (Frank Moore) has been assembled by the usual farmers and, in Baum’s only hint at how the Scarecrow could have been alive in the first place, given animation by a mysterious troupe of fairy beings led by a woman who resemble s an American Indian.
With a trio of witches, who show up as hags then transform into lovely girls, Mombi enacts a spell which freezes Gloria’s heart. The ceremony is watched from outside her house by Pon, who has pursued Gloria, and Dorothy, who has been ushered out of the witch’s house. Pon accidentally knocks a window in, and Mombi and her once-again ugly coterie give chase, but a belligerent mule (Fred Woodward) chases them off.
Dorothy, Pon, and the ensorcelled Gloria soon meet the Scarecrow and free him. Smitten with Gloria, he joins them in their quest to undo the spell, and the team shortly comes upon Button-Bright (Mildred Harris) playing with stones on a dirt road. Their ranks swell further when they enlist the Tin Woodman (Pierre Couderc) after oiling the rusty ruler outside his tin castle. He too falls in love with Gloria and determines to conquer Krewl.
Mombi, ever dogging their steps, tries to interfere, but gets her head chopped off by the Woodman for her trouble. Nothing daunted, once she replaces her noggin, she changes Pon into a kangaroo (Woodward) and storms off.