In The Merry Old Land of Oz
What would you do with a brain if you had one?
One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “What would you do with a brain if you had one”? Of course that quote is from one of the greatest movies made of all time. The Wizard of Oz, and the quote is from Dorothy asking the scarecrow what he would do if the wizard granted his wish of getting a brain. I have always loved that quote and still do.
The Wizard of Oz was actually called The Emerald City, but was published as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900 by L.Frank Baum. It has been translated to several different languages and has been a child classic and has been shown on television every year for over forty years. The American Film Institute has named The Wizard of Oz as the 6th best film of all time.
L. Frank Baum actually had a series of children’s books about oz that he wrote starting with The Emerald City. In The Wizard of Oz the story starts out when Dorothy is swept away by a cyclone. She is transported to Munchkin Land where she discovers that the house she was in landed on the wicked witch of the east. It must have been quite a spectacle in 1939 seeing this on the big screen, where Dorothy opens up the black and white door of the house and is lured into a land of pure beauty and color. In 1939 color was used in movies but not to the extent of The Wizard of Oz, there were special effects in this movie that were never before seen in movies. Continuing on with the storyline, Dorothy tells the Good Witch of the North (Glinda) that she just wants to go home and this is where the adventure begins. Glinda the good witch, gives Dorothy the ruby slippers in order to protect her from the remaining witch, the most evil of all, The Wicked Witch of the West. From there Glinda tells Dorothy that the only one that can help her is the great and powerful Wizard of Oz. So Dorothy goes on her way following the yellow brick road to get to the wizard and that is where she encounters the scarecrow, who wants a brain (even though throughout the movie he manages to come up with all the plans), the Tin man who also wants a heart ( although it is obvious that he is the most sensitive) and of course the Lion who doesn’t think that he is brave enough to be the king of the forest. Throughout the movie, the Wicked Witch of the West, tries to get in their way and even sends out flying monkeys, which by the way used to scare the pee out of me when I was little.
Of course Dorothy returned home and she lived happily ever after, not realizing that she could have gone home anytime she wanted to just by tapping her ruby slippers together. It was a brilliant movie that is timeless and I expect millions of children will always be able to enjoy this movie, thanks to the careful protection to the quality of the movie.
More books by L. Frank Baum
What people may not know is that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was only the first in a series of books by L.Frank Baum, the others that followed were:
- The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904)
- Ozma of Oz (1907)
- Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz (1908)
- The Road to Oz (1909)
- The Emerald City of Oz (1909)
In The Emerald City of Oz Dorothy, her uncle Henry and aunt Em go to the land of oz and live there permanently, where her adventures in Oz continue in the books:
- The Patchwork Girl of Oz
- Tik-Tok of Oz
- The Scarecrow of Oz
- Rinkitink in Oz
- The Lost Princess of Oz
- The Tins woodsmen of Oz
- The Magic of Oz
- Glinda of Oz
So even before the 1920’s when the movie was in the works, there were plenty of readers of these wonderful books from L. Frank Baum.
"I have deliberately eliminated all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents of the standard fairy tale; mine aspires to be a modern one, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out." - L. Frank Baum
MGM finally released the movie in 1939 and the cost was an unheard of 4 million to produce, this was staggering for the time. The movie was moderately received and did gross 3 million dollars which would have been over the top if it had not been for the amount that it took to make the movie, considering it not a great success story. The movie was nominated for 6 Oscars however, including best picture but was overshadowed that year by another mega hit Gone With the Wind, which took the best picture Oscar for the year 1939. However, The Wizard of Oz received best original score and best song Over the Rainbow, Judy Garland also received an honorary miniature Oscar for her role as Dorothy.
Still Popular after all these years
After WWII the Wizard of Oz was re-released in 1948 and was better received, although it wasn’t until the release to television that the movie has profited a great amount of money. After 1976 the movie has purported to have profited $34,000,000 in T.V. royalties and not to mention all the royalties over the 40 years of being released to television and all the books, collectibles that are still being bought and sold today associated with the movie.
1995 Gregory Maguire published his book Wicked about the life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West before all the happenings of Oz and Dorothy. Basically it is the story of the witch whose name in the book is Elphaba and it really is the author’s view on the life of the witch and why she is so misunderstood. The book has gone on to become a successful Broadway musical. Gregory Maguire has also written follow ups to Wicked such as The Son of a Witch and The Cowardly War.
Myths and truths concerning the Wizard of Oz
Apparently during the filming of the movie the munchkins were known to get out of hand and were supposedly always late to work and hung over from partying too much. There was a rumor that one of the munchkins committed suicide and it was caught on film during one of the scenes where the tin man joins Dorothy and the Scarecrow down the yellow brick road and off to the side there is a shadow that supposedly was said to be a munchkin hanging himself, but on closer inspection it was actually only a bird stretching its wings. This rumor was false.
There was also a rumor that during the making of the Wizard of Oz, L.Frank Baum had already past away and in one of the scenes for professor Marvel, the scene called for him to wear an old raggedy suite and during one of the rehearsals the actor that played the professor, looked inside the coat and saw that inside the coat it had the monogram of L. Frank Baum, which was pretty ordinary during that time that people had their clothes monogrammed with their name and size. It was ironic to say the least that the coat they chose actually belonged to the original writer of the story. The coat was later gifted to the widow of L.Frank Baum This rumor is true.
There is a rumor that Pink Floyd‘s Dark side of the Moon synchronizes with the Wizard of Oz if played correctly. On the album cover there is a prism as well as a rainbow but Pink Floyd has never actually admitted to this rumor. Apparently you load the Dark Side of the Moon cd into the cd player and set it to continuous play so it replays over and over, when played with the DVD you wait until the black and white lion roars for the third time and then if you turn down the sound of the TV the line "balanced on the biggest wave" should be Dorothy balancing on the fence, "On the Run" starts as Dorothy falls. I have never tried this and I am not sure if it is true.
There are still people who are avid collectors of items from the Wizard of Oz such as books, figurines, puzzles, board games, movie posters. The most popular and most expensive collectible is the ruby slippers, of which there are only 7 pairs to date.
This movie still remains near and dear to my heart and always will.
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