The Wizard of Oz
Directed by Victor Fleming and apparently 4 uncredited dudes
Screenplay written by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allen Woolf based on the book by L Frank Baum… apparently there are also a large committee’s worth of contributing writers as well
This is one of those movies I can probably recite, if someone needed me to. I guess we had it on video when I was a kid and me and my sister watched it quite a lot. The beautiful thing about watching it again on blu ray (special anniversary edition) is that you can see so much detail. In the Munchkinland sequences you can see which munchkins aren’t singing or dancing.
Judy Garland shines in this film, and it’s hard to know if it’s because she was high or drunk or just because she’s a fantastic actor. The songs are beautiful, especially Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
Random trivia about this movie is everywhere, because it’s been popular so long. How about this one? According to lead Munchkin Jerry Maren, the “little people” on the set were paid $50 per week for a 6-day work week, while Toto received $125 per week. That and the fact that most of the Wicked Witch’s scenes were edited down or cut entirely because she was too scary. I can believe it, she terrified me as a kid, her and the flying monkeys.
Of course none of this was as scary as the amazing Return To Oz where there was the Deadly Desert, The Wheelers and head removing Princess Mombie, following on from an evil psychiatric asylum and electric shock treatment. Don’t get me wrong, I freaking love that movie, but it terrified me. This movie seems very easy to deal with in comparison!
Overpaid or not, Toto is a very good dog though, you can see him offering his paw to Dorothy to shake in the Somewhere Over the Rainbow sequence even after she shakes his wee paw. He does stunts and runs where he’s told, it’s adorable.
I actually noticed something I never have before: in the sequence where they’re in the haunted forest they’ve all armed up. I had noticed the Lion had a net before, but not that the Tin Man has a gigantic spanner or that the Scarecrow is pointing a hand gun around the place. I wonder where they got a gun in Oz?
There are so many moments that have been spoofed in such excellent ways – the Winkies ‘oh wee oh’ sequence as Burns’s guards in the Simpsons and of course as Oreos in Wreck it Ralph. This film has entered our lexicon when it comes to moving images. Then of course is the advent of Wicked, which tells the story from the Wicked Witch’s point of view and makes the whole thing a lot more political.
Does it make me love the people? Oh yes. From the very start, Dorothy is a sweet, dreaming and getting in the way. I noticed on today’s watch how protective Glinda is at the start of the movie, when they’re talking to the Wicked Witch she keeps her arms around Dorothy and gives her advice. It’s quite lovely.
Bechdel test: Yes, in virtually the second line, Dorothy talks to Aunt Em about the things Miss Gulch said she’d do to Toto. In fact it passes over and over again with Glinda and The Wicked Witch of the West but that shouldn’t be a surprise given the source material is unapologetically feminist.
Best line: based on what I mostly quote it’s “To the Emerald City, as fast as lightning!”
But I also love what the witch says as she dies “what a world, what a world…” I’m sure we all feel like that when we die, huh?
Wizard: “Remember, a heart is not judged by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.”
State of mind: It really is a pity that the Wonderful Wizard of Oz that came out a couple of years ago was so misogynistic and bad. It would be really nice to have a new tale from Oz…
My favourite Banksy piece seems relevant: