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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I wasn't disputing you (I do vaguely recall the scene with the crows)... just pointing out that Baum's purpose was to tone down the violence. Baum's Oz was a wonderfully inventive backdrop which I think cold support a series of big budget films (in the Harry Potter vein)... if they could overcome the sigma of being to "old fashioned" for today's hip young tots.

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?

I remember seeing it at a theater in my elementary school days. I know it was a with a group of kids, I think it was sumemer time, maybe a YMCA event. We saw it at the great Walnut Twin Theater. From what I remember, I did enjoy it, and I thought it had popping color. The only two I knew at that time were Diana Ross and Nipsey Russell. That was the only time I saw it, so I don't know what I would think about it now.

I think it says something about this forum that I don't expect ... well, really, anybody ... to say "Nipsey who?"

I notice Travis did not mention Michael Jackson.

One of the joys I received from watching The Wizard of Oz year after year for decades was that, virtually every year, I spotted something I had missed or never realised before in my previous viewings.  When I was younger, of course, that "something I had missed" was usually something simple, like a gesture or a joke.  ("He said 'oil can'."  "Oil can---what?")

 

As I got older and capable of discerning artistic touches and thematic details, I realised that the film The Wizard of Oz, though deviating in signicant plot details from Baum's book, maintained its own narrative subtext.  And one year, a realisation about the film hit me like a safe falling from a building.

 

You'll all recall the scene where the exposed "Wizard" grants Our Heroes' requests by handing out trinkets from his ditty bag. 

 

(In fact, this scene has two of the best lines in the film---when the Wizard addresses the Tin Man's desire for a heart:

 

"As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don't know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable."

 

and

 

"And remember, my sentimental friend, the size of a heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.")

 

If you recall that scene closely, the Wizard tells each, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, that they already have the credentials of the things each desires most, but ". . . there's just one thing you haven't got."  Essentially, the Wizard is telling them that they already possess the thing they want, that they never lacked it to begin with.

 

And if one looks back on the events of the film, he's right.

 

After Dorothy is captured, it is the Scarecrow who comes up with the plan to infiltrate the Witch's castle.  When they are trapped within the castle by her guardsmen, it is the Scarecrow who notices how close the Tin Man's axe is to the line holding the candle chandelier over the guardsmen's head; he then pushes the blade of the axe so it severs the line and the chandelier falls on the guardsmen.  It is the Scarecrow who figures out how to get apples from the living apple trees by taunting them into throwing apples at him and Dorothy.  He already has brains aplenty. 

 

The Tin Man was seen throughout the film as the one who felt the deepest emotional pain and sympathy.  He cries at the thought of Dorothy being in the clutches of the Wicked Witch.  He cries when Dorothy and the Lion succomb to the poisoned poppies in the field outside of Oz.  He constantly shows that he is the one most concerned for getting Dorothy back home to Kansas.  He already has a heart.

 

As for the Cowardly Lion---well, courage isn't the absence of fear; it's doing what must be done, despite being afraid.  The Lion was the most scared of all of them, yet he went with the Scarecrow and the Tin Man to rescue Dorothy from the witch.  That's courage in my book.

And Dorothy?  Oh, that was the cleverest of all.  Dorothy simply wanted to go back home to Kansas.  But as the ending shows, the conceit of the film was that her adventures in Oz were all a dream, and she was home safe in bed the whole time.  In other words, she was already home.

 

Think about this for a moment: Larry Fine as the Scarecrow, Moe Howard as the Tinman, and Curly Howard as the Lion.

Bob Hope as the Cowardly Lion, Bing Crosby as the Tin Man, Danny Kaye as the Scarecrow and Dorothy Lamour as Dorothy in "The Road to Oz."

Jeff Of Earth-J:

"Oh, yes... the original Oz books were most definitely illustrated"

Cool images.

It's been about 43 years since I read those 2 books.  I couldn't for the life of me tell you who the publisher was, what edition, what year they were put out, who the artists were.  The only thing I can say with any certainty is, they didn't look anything like what you just posted.  They were more the size of "graphic novels", large, and thin (yet hardbound).

So, were they all text on some pages and illustrations on the every other page? I can't be sure, but I have a feeling the OZ books I read may have been simplified versions-- art on every page and very limited in the text.  (They do various versions of some books for different age groups, don't they?)

They were, I'm pretty sure, on the same shelf as a pair of TINTIN books (also in hardbound).  one annoying absurdity I recall all too clearly about the Camden Public Library was, the main branch on Broadway (the building still stands, but it's a rotting granite hulk, its roof shot thru and desperately in need of replacement) had one TINTIN book-- EXPLORERS ON THE MOON.  The tiny Whitman Park Branch (on Kaighn Ave. near Louis Street. about 10 blocks from here, now a vascant lot!) had 2 books-- DESTINATION MOON and EXPLORERS ON THE MOON.  I know libraries are often stocked with donations and such, but it seemed really absurd for the branch to have 2 books while the main one only had one.  (I suppose someone could have taken one of them out and never returned it...)

It was a joy, some years later (sometime in the 70's) when softcover editions of the TINTIN books started turning up in the mall book stores.  Somehow, they never got a lot of them, we were always too slow getting ahold of them, and it took me almost 20 years and a variety of sources before I finally got every one of them.  (I recall I finally got the last 2 by mail order from Bud Plant, in early 1998.)

I was just reading about The Wiz online. I knew who was featured in the starring roles, but I honestly never thought of it as the “black” version of the Wizard of Oz. I thought of it as the updated version of the Wizard of Oz. I “refused” to see on the same basis I refused to see the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band band movie starring the Bee Gees: because I considered myself a purist. I think I’m finally in the mood to watch both of them now.

Tim: When the “Lollipop Guild” came on screen, tracy said, “That’s Moe Larry and Curly right there.”

One of the things Peter David pointed out in his article had never occurred to him until his daughter pointed it out. Why, she wanted to know, didn’t Dorothy simply turn the hour glass on its side to buy herself more time? That same thought occurred to me when I was young, but I came up with my own explanation. The Wicked Witch of the West could take the Ruby slippers off Dorothy while she was alive, and the slipers themselves kept the witch from killing her. But I’m guessing Dorothy could have killed herself. I say the hourglass was booby-trapped, and the witch was trying to goad Dorothy into breaking it as an act of desperation. My proof? In the very next scene, the witch hurls the hour glass from the top of the stairs and it explodes.

Speaking of gaining appreciation from noticing details through repeated watchings, one of my favorite scenes is the one between Uncle Henry and Elvira Gulch at the gate. It is a masterpiece of comedic timing!

“Mr. Gale, I want to speak to you about Dororthy. I’ve been bit!”

“Y’mean she bit ya?”

“No. Her dog.”

“Oh, she bit her dog, eh?”

“No…”

It’s not just the way the gate smacks her in the rear end at Henry’s joke, it’s the way Margaret Hamilton delivers that final “no,” as if Elvira Gulch has absolutely no sense of humor at all (which, of course, she doesn’t).

Also, the way Frank Morgan stumbles over the word “philanthropist” is classic!

You know...  "Over The Rainbow" almost always gets me teary-eyed...  (some songs do that to me)

Henry R. Kujawa said:

You know...  "Over The Rainbow" almost always gets me teary-eyed...  (some songs do that to me)

 

Look for Mandy Patinkin singing it on Letterman's show. I'm sure it's on YouTube.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Speaking of gaining appreciation from noticing details through repeated watchings, one of my favorite scenes is the one between Uncle Henry and Elvira Gulch at the gate. It is a masterpiece of comedic timing!

“Mr. Gale, I want to speak to you about Dororthy. I’ve been bit!”

“Y’mean she bit ya?”

“No. Her dog.”

“Oh, she bit her dog, eh?”

“No…”

It’s not just the way the gate smacks her in the rear end at Henry’s joke, it’s the way Margaret Hamilton delivers that final “no,” as if Elvira Gulch has absolutely no sense of humor at all (which, of course, she doesn’t).

 

Yes (chuckle!), that was, indeed, a clever bit of humour.  The monochrome portion of the film tends to get the short shrift in commentary, but there were some truly bright pieces of dialogue in them.

 

One of my favourite exchanges occurred right after the winged monkeys attack Our Heroes in the haunted forest and swoop away with Dorothy.  In the aftermath, the Tin Man and the Lion find that the Scarecrow has been more or less "destuffed", reduced to his head and arms.

 

SCARECROW:  "First they took my legs off and threw them over there!  Then they took my chest out and threw it over there!"

 

TIN MAN:  "Well, that's you all over!"

 

LION:  "They kind'a knocked the stuffings out of you, huh?"

 

 

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