Yesterday we watched The Wizard of Oz. It was Tracy’s first time. I knew that when I married her but never pressed the matter, until recently not having seen it has become a bigger issue in her life and I figured enough was enough. For me, it was probably the first time I saw it in the last 20 years without simultaneaously listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

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Henry R. Kujawa said:

I grew up watching THE WIZARD OF OZ on the network.  Gene Kelly used to host the film!  I remember the year when he had to explain to TV audiences that if they had color TVs now, the beginning and end of the film was in B&W-- but the middle was in color.  So, "do not adjust your set".  They'd been running it strictly in B&W before that, and as if happens, I'm pretty sure we had just bought our first color set that year. So it made quite an impression.

 

I, as well, watched The Wizard of Oz on television every year, starting in 1959.  (CBS had aired the film once before, in December, 1956, but did not run it again until '59, after which it became an annual event.)  I remember the intro that you described, Mr. Kujawa, but I remembered the host as being Danny Kaye.  (He also informed the children watching not to be afraid of the MGM lion---"He's not the Cowardly Lion, but don't be scared"---in the film's header.)

 

Thinking that there may have been more than one host over the years, I did some research and discovered this:

 

For the film's inaugural broadcast, in 1956, it was hosted by Burt Lahr and a very young Liza Manelli.

 

1959--Red Skelton and his daughter, Valentina

 

1960--Richard Boone and his son, Peter

 

1961-2---Dick Van Dyke and his children

 

1963-6---Danny Kaye

 

The host I remember best is Kaye.  I can still see him dancing down the yellow brick road in his intro and then remarking on the MGM lion and the business about the beginning and end of the film being in monochrome.  When CBS aired The Wizard of Oz next, in '67, it was without a host (and there never would be one, again).  Watching it never seemed quite right after that.

Sounds right.  I probably thought of Gene Kelly after seeing him & Judy Garland in sme movie on TCM.

Some of my memories of the 60's are positively uncanny... but I guess I can't remember everything like that!

Based on your info, I'd say the only one I saw (or at least, was old enough to remember) was Danny Kaye.  So I was right, they did go to color the SAME year we got the color set (Valentine's Day, 1966-- I'll never forget that).  Can't remember if I saw it when they dropped the host.

"The GUN is GOOD!  USE the gun to KILL the BRUTALS who MULTIPLY in the WASTELAND!"

---oh wait, wrong movie!   : )

There was an anime version of The Wizard of Oz that aired on one of the Memphis independent channels as part of some syndicated package. There was a host seated in a wingback chair with several children sitting on the floor around him, as if he were reading the story to them. The film was a pretty faithful adaptation of the first book, but the characters looked like the ones from the 1939 movie. It had nothing like the framing sequence of 1939. When the anime was over, however, the host spoke. "And Dorothy woke up, and it was all just a dream." My brother yelled at the TV. "Wrong movie, dumbass!"

Tracy refused to read Peter David’s column about The Wizard of Oz (for reasons I explained yesterday), but she did agree to watch Return to Oz (which PAD cites as a superior film) last night. She did not like it as much as the original, but I’m disappointed it didn’t catch on. There are certain scenes just as scary (if not more so) as some from the original. The movie is a good adaptation of the second and third books in L. Frank Baum’s Oz series. By that I mean that Walt Disney ignored fact that Dorothy wasn’t featured in the second book but remained faithful otherwise. It’s a worthwhile movie to watch if you’ve never seen it.

The Wiz was popular when I was younger, but despite the fact we played a medley of tunes from it in high school band, I refused to go see it. Any opinion on that one?

Tracy will be pleased to learn that Danny Kaye used to host the annual television broadcast. Does any footage of that exist on You-Tube?

I saw Return to Oz the first week it was in theaters. I loved it. The one time I met Harlan Ellison, we discussed our mutual love of that movie.

In the late 60's I used to go to my local library a lot.  Among the books I loaned out were a pair of hardbound illustrated OZ books. I guess this is a good place to ask-- were the original books illustrated? I have no idea who the artist was. I know one of the books I read was the first one, and it was quite a surprise to see the differences between it and the 1939 movie.  I think the other book I read was OZMA OF OZ.

I don't think I quite realized what a problem "It was all a dream!" was when I was a kid.  As an adult, ANY time I see that sort of thing, it annoys the hell out of me. To me, it's like this... you'll have some wonderful story involving fantasy elements, showing a world that so much more interesting than the regular world. And then someone comes along and feels they have to PISS all over that, by saying, "No, that's not real, it's ONLY a fantasy, it's better to get used to the idea of just living in the DREARY, DULL, BORING regular world."  And of course, you're supposed to put up with the real world AS IT IS, don't bother trying to change it or IMPROVE it or make it a nicer place to live. Without drerams, we might as well be living in cold, clammy caves.

The Walt Disney PETER PAN also did this (although it seems like they were hedging their bets, not making it absolutely certain one way or the other, but only after they'd already tried to destroy the "fantasy").  Even Frank Capra's LOST HORIZON has a sequence near the end where a group of people are sitting around discussing Ronald Colman's character, and suggesting that everything he described was only a result of delerium from being lost in the Himalayas.

W.W. Denslow illustrated the first Oz book. John R. Neill illustrated more than 40 Oz stories, starting with the second book.

Oh, yes... the original Oz books were most definitely illustrated: http://www.rareozbooks.com/wonderful-wizard-of-oz-color-illustratio...

I have six of them in hardcover: the first three in a single-edition format from BOMC, as well as replica editions of three of the others. (The Emerald City of Oz was originally illustrated with "metallic" green ink.)

Frank Baum himself also wrote a Sunday funnies Oz page which comprised a black of text profusely illustrated aroun the periphery. It's available full-size in hardcover, but it ain't cheap!

The Wizard of Oz, the book, is actually really violent as the Scarecrow breaks the necks of some crows, the Cowardly Lion knocks the head off a giant spider and as for the Tin Woodsman, let's just say he knows how to use that axe! Dorothy was well-protected on the Yellow Brick Road!

I don’t recall any overt violence in the book, but I admit that it’s been awhile since I read it. If there is I would consider that ironic, given that Baum’s raison d’etre was to tone down the violence of traditional fairly stories such as those by the Brothers Grimm.

Jeff I just double-checked the plot over at Wikipedia. It's a bloodbath! A BLOODBATH!!

Seriously, it would never be considered a children's book today!

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