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'Wizard of Oz,' the First Movie I Saw in a Theater
Wizard of OZ - Off to See the Wizard
Wizard of OZ
As I sat down with my 6 year old granddaughter to watch The Wizard of Oz , I could not help considering a few things.
- The Wizard of Oz was the first movie I had been to see in a theater. (TV had not been invented)
- I was approximately the same age as my grand daughter when I watched the movie.
- How impressed I must have been to still be able to sit down and watch the movie.
- Do kids these days miss out on how good The Wizard of Oz really is by watching it on TV.
I can still remember walking across the road, It was Bourke Street in Melbourne and staring in amazement at all things wondrous.
There were Trams, probably still cable at that time (circa 194x), modern cars, (hey I didn't get out much).
I made this trip with an older sister and her two daughters, who were more like sisters to me, there was very little age difference between us!
Then we saw this magnificent cinema in all its glory. The photo shows the facade in the late 30's after the war. It was refurbished and renamed "St.James Theatre" when we made our exciting trip.
Then we got to see the movie. I just sat there gob-smacked, and when it changed from the sepia toning to full Technicolor I would be hooked on Movies for the rest of my life.
St. James Theatre
The cast of "The Wizard of Oz" included:-
- Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale
- Ray Bolger as Huck /The Scarecrow
- Jack Haley as Hickory /Tin Woodman
- Bert Lahr as Zeke /Cowardly Lion
- Billie Burke as Glinda the Good Witch of the North
- Margaret Hamilton as Miss Almira Gulch /The Wicked Witch of the West
- Frank Morgan as Professor Marvel/Doorman/The Cabby/The Guard/The Wizard
- Charles Grapewin as Uncle Henry
- Clara Blandick as Auntie Em
- Terry the Dog as Toto
- The Singer Midgets as the Munchkins.
It was reported that Ray Bolger's contract with the studio stipulated that he must play any part the studio chose. He was not a happy camper however, when he was cast as the Tin Man.
The Scarecrow part had already been assigned to another up and coming lean and limber dancing studio contract player, Buddy Ebsen. (who later shot to fame as Jed Clampett in the 1960 TV hit series "The Beverly Hillbillies")
In time, the roles were switched.
While Bolger was pleased with his role as the Scarecrow, Ebsen was struck ill by the powdered aluminum make-up used to complete the Tin Man costume. The powdered aluminum badly coated Ebsen's lungs, leaving him near death. Ironically, Ebsen would outlive all the principal players of Oz.
Ebsen's illness paved the way for the Tin Man role to be filled by Jack Haley.
Trailer for The Wizard of Oz
Memories of The Wizard of OZ
My quest here is not so much tell you about The Wizard of Oz, as I am sure that you have all seen the movie, but to find out just how well anyone remembers the first time they went to a Movie Theatre, I suppose I should use the correct name, Cinema!. I would sure be interested to hear from anyone on what was their first movie experience and how well you enjoyed the outing?
Over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
'Over the Rainbow' - Timeless Song
"Over the Rainbow", is in my opinion one of the best songs ever written.
"Over the Rainbow" (often referred to as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow") is a classic ballad song with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg.
It was written for the movie The Wizard of Oz. The song's plaintive melody and simple lyrics depict a young girl's desire to escape from the "hopeless jumble" of this world, from the sadness of raindrops to the bright new world "over the rainbow." It expresses the childlike faith that a door will magically open to a place where "troubles melt like lemon-drops".
When you look around today it is still very relevant!
The song is so popular that it tops the "Songs of the Century" list compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. It also topped the American Film Institute's "100 Years, 100 Songs" list.
"Over the Rainbow" received the "best song" academy award in 1939
The song was adopted by the American troops in Europe in World War II as a symbol of the United States, the faraway land that, after long years of war, seemed like a dream beyond the rainbow.
I love this song so much that I have included three versions. There are many to choose from, I particularly like Izy's version and the late Eva Cassidy does a great cover version. The last cover is by the late Australian singer/rocker , Billy Thorpe. His version is more rock
I hope you like each of them .
Over the Rainbow - Eva Cassidy
Over the Rainbow - Billy Thorpe
Fact or Fiction
Here are some interesting things about The Wizard of Oz that I discovered doing my research, If any are not true or you have some information you would like to add just let me know and I will append it here.
- The movie is base on a children's novel" The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W.W. Denslow.
- It is reported that the author got the name "Oz" from a file drawer labeled "O–Z"
- The slippers in the book were "silver" but were changed to "Ruby" in the movie for better effect.
- Feminist author Margery Hourihan has described the book as a "banal and mechanistic story which is written in flat, impoverished prose" and dismissed the central character from the movie adaptation of the book as "the girl-woman of Hollywood". And I thought it was a feel good movie, Wow!
- In 1967, The Seekers recorded "Emerald City" in which the vocalist sings of a visit to the Emerald City.
- Many critics have tried to put political spin on the book and movie but the author insisted that it was written purely for no other reason than kids to enjoy.
- For the technically minded among us, the film was photographed using the Technicolor process, and this processes entails splitting the image in the camera, thus reducing the amount of light reaching the film. All this meant that a greater amount of lighting was required. More lighting means more heat on the set and it was reportedly well over 100 degrees F on the set. There was also reports of damaged eyesight due to the heavy lighting.