Oh, we're off to see the wizard! The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!
The 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland. To many people, more familiar than the original book, and — largely thanks to becoming an annual broadcast television staple in The Fifties — one of the most famous movies ever made.The film changed the silver shoes to ruby slippers (depending on this source, this was either to show off the new color technology of the time, or because silver shoes didn't show up well), merged the two good witches, cut out several incidents, including all of Dorothy's (admittedly anticlimactic) journey from the Emerald City to Glinda's palace, and added the All Just a Dream ending—the studio heads thought the audience was too sophisticated to accept a "real" fantasyland.This movie has proven so popular that it has had several stage adaptations written and produced over the years. Professional productions have included a touring ice show in the 1990s, an All-Star Cast concert staging in New York City in 1995, another N.Y.C. production that ran seasonally at Madison Square Garden later in the decade, and a 2011 London production produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber that added several new songs by Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The 2011 Tom and JerryDirect-to-Video movie Tom and Jerry and The Wizard of Oz is a Twice Told Tale version.Disney has made two films that effectively serve as (unofficial) bookends to this one. 1985's Return to Oz is a semi-sequel that's substantially Darker and Edgier, but also more faithful to the original Oz novels. 2013's Oz: The Great and Powerful is a spiritual prequel to this film, an origin story following the Wizard (played by James Franco) as he first arrives in Oz, as well as the Start of Darkness of the Wicked Witch of the West (played by Mila Kunis).The Stock ParodyOff to See the Wizard is almost invariably derived from this version of the story.While this version is by far the most well known, it is not the first film adaptation. There were several silent adaptations, oldest surviving of which is from 1910. That, curiously enough, was based on a 1902 stage musical. Although most of the music for the show has been lost, the producers of the 1939 version were aware of it, and that may have had an influence on their work.
The Wizard of Oz provides examples of:
Ascended Extra: The Witch wasn't truly an "extra" in the original book, but she only appeared in one chapter; her role is expanded greatly in this version.
Adaptational Attractiveness: In the book, the Good Witch of the North was older and really plain looking. In the movie, she's glamorous and rather beautiful.
Albeit it should be pointed out that the movie's Glinda is an amalgam of two witches from the book: the unnamed Good Witch of the North (the older, plain one), and Glinda the Good Witch of the South, who is explicitly stated to be agelessly beautiful.
Oddly, the Wicked Witch of the West counts as well. While she's definitely not attractive in the movie, in the book she was a withered old woman with an eyepatch over one eye. An early idea was for her to be extremely glamorous, essentially a clone of Snow White's Evil Queen.
Adaptation Distillation: The movie cuts out Dorothy's trip into Quadling Country and Glinda just appears in the Emerald City.
Adaptation Induced Plothole: An infamous example. There were two Good Witches in the book, of which Glinda was the second. The first one, the unnamed Good Witch of the North, met Dorothy when she first arrived in Oz and gave her the slippers, but Glinda (the Good Witch of the South, who didn't meet Dorothy until the end) was the only one who knew that their magic could help Dorothy get back to Kansas. The movie combines them into one character, leading many viewers to wonder why Glinda didn't just tell her how to get back home at the start of the movie.
Adult Fear: When Aunt Em is looking for Dorothy during the tornado. Listen to her voice when she calls out for her one last time before having to retreat into the storm shelter. She sounds absolutely distraught.
Age Lift: Dorothy is around eight years old in the book but is aged up and played by the 17-year-old Judy Garland. Several sources have said that Dorothy is intended to be fourteen in the film.
All Just a Dream: Unlike in the original books. The reason why it was changed for the film was because MGM felt that 1930's audiences were too sophisticated to accept Oz as a straight ahead fantasy, so they made it as a lengthy, elaborate dream, instead. Though some could argue Dorothy's slippers made everybody else think it was a dream of Dorothy's.
All-Star Cast: This aspect of the film is obviously lost on modern-day audiences, but much of the cast—Judy Garland, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Jack Haley and Margaret Hamilton in particular—were some of the foremost actors of their day. This being the 30's, many of them were noted vaudeville performers.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: The scene where everyone panics on the farm and rushes to Dorothy's aid when she falls in the pig pen. Most these days see it as unintentional hilarity but those who've raised pigs on a farm would know the notorious risk of pigs killing and trying to eat small children.
An Aesop: After Glinda asks Dorothy what she's learned, Dorothy gives one.
If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, l won't look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn't there I never really lost it to begin with.
[and after Dorothy returns to Kansas] There's no place like home!
Witch: "... as long as you're alive. But that's not what concerns me. It's how to do it. These things must be done delicately or you hurt the spell."
Bootstrapped Theme: The music heard during the MGM logo opening this movie also played during the MGM/UA Home Video logo used from 1995-1999.
Boss Arena Idiocy: Why exactly does the wicked witch allow buckets of water within a mile of her castle, let alone right on a handy shelf? Granted, there's all those torches, but is she really the type to worry about fire safety?
Cameo Prop: L. Frank Baum died before the film was made, making a Creator Cameo impossible. But, in a remarkable coincidence, Frank Morgan as Professor Marvel wore a secondhand coat that turned out to have belonged to the author. (It's true; Snopesconfirms it.) Ironically, Margaret Hamilton initially refused to believe that the coat belonged to Baum when she first heard about it, claiming it was nothing more than a stunt by MGM to drum up publicity for the movie.
Cartoon Bug-Sprayer: The Cowardly Lion arms himself against the Wicked Witch with one of these.
The Chessmaster: To modern audiences, who are a tad more cynical, it's often suggested that Glinda was simply manipulating Dorothy, turning her into an accidental assassin that could kill the Witches and remove the Wizard; thus leaving Glinda poised to seize control of Oz in the aftermath.
While this is an unfair assessment of Glinda, it's actually an accurate way of describing the Wizard of Oz himself when he sent Dorothy and the others on a quest after the Witch's broom.
If you interpret the movie as a Coming of Age Story for Dorothy, then maybe Glinda does, indeed, qualify for the Trope, but with more benign motives.
Clingy MacGuffin: The ruby slippers won't come off Dorothy's feet, and shock the Witch when she tries to remove them. In the original book, however, Dorothy could and did frequently remove the silver shoes.
Gulch: I want to see you and your wife right about Dorothy.
Henry: Dorothy? Well, what has Dorothy done?
Gulch: What's she done? I'm all but lame from the bite on my leg!
Henry: You mean she bit you?
Gulch: No, her dog!
Henry: Oh, she bit her dog, eh?
(Henry lets go of the gate and it hits Ms. Gulch from behind.)
Of course, given the type of person she was, it's probable he was simply Obfuscating Stupidity in an attempt to protect Dorothy.
Crazy-Prepared: Oddly enough, the beauty salon at the Emerald City had facilities for both the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodsman.
Composite Character: In the original version, Dorothy was given her mission upon arriving by the Witch of the South, and didn't meet Glinda until the conclusion. In this version, Glinda combines the roles of both the benevolent witches.
Crosscast Role: Toto was played by a female Cairn terrier, named Terry.
Cute Clumsy Man: The Scarecrow is afflicted with the weakest legs you ever saw. Several times throughout the film he trips and has to pick himself back up again, and is practically half-dragged along whenever all four of them skip on the Yellow Brick Road. Justified in that he's made of straw.
Darker and Edgier: While it doesn't seem like this to the average viewer, some parts are considerably darker than the book. When writing the book, Baum explicitly said that he wanted to make a story with all the wonder of a classic fairy tale but none of the horror and tragedy. By contrast, the movie features Toto getting sentenced to death, as well as Dorothy and her friends nearly getting killed by the Witch and her minions several times. Instead of the book's comical Witch, the movie's Witch is a genuinely scary villain with obvious sadistic tendencies. And instead of being neutral creatures answering to the Witch's three wishes, the movie's flying monkeys are eerily silent monstrosities who serve the Witch as mindless slaves.
Then again, there are moments when the movie is Lighter and Softer than the book. The book explicitly had Dorothy's companions kill the creatures sent by the Wicked Witch and the origin of the Tin Woodsman is considerably horrific.
The biggest change in this regard is that, in the book, the Good Witch of the North put a charm on Dorothy that prevented anyone in Oz from hurting her, so throughout the entire story she's never actually in any physical danger.
Dark Reprise: A Cut Song (see above) of "Over The Rainbow". It had to be recorded live on set as Judy would have had to act in addition to singing it. Reportedly the performance reduced the entire cast and crew to tears.
Deus ex Machina: The heroes are cornered, surrounded by all the guards of the Wicked Witch of the West. The Witch herself, gloating in victory, lights the Scarecrow on fire and Dorothy tosses a bucket of water to put him out, some of it splashing the Witch. Lo and behold, water turns out to be the Witch's weakness and she suddenly begins melting for no explainable reason. And all those guards that were surrounding the heroes don't go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge but instead are all cheering that she's dead. Makes one wonder why they didn't splash some water on her themselves if they hated her so much, or why the Witch kept such a lethal substance lying around in the castle.
Disneyfication: The books contain a surprising amount of casual and sometimes decidedly un-PC violence: in the first one alone — besides the wholesale witchicide — the Scarecrow twists the necks of crows sent to attack them, the Tin Woodsman chops the heads off vicious wolves, and the Cowardly Lion swats the head off a giant spider with his paw. And, of course, the Tin Woodsman became tin by gradually having all his bits cut off and replaced — up to and including his head.
Additionally in the book Dorothy intentionally throws the bucket of water on the Wicked Witch after she's mean to the Cowardly Lion (she doesn't know it'll make her melt of course). The film changes this to Dorothy trying to put out a fire on the Scarecrow's arms and the water accidentally splashing on the Witch.
Dream Land: Dorothy's adventure may have only been a dream. Arguably foreshadowed by the cyclone scene, in which Dorothy hallucinates Miss Gulch, carried aloft on her bicycle, transforming into the Wicked Witch (both portrayed by the same actress), and in which Dorothy suffers a blow to the head and passes out on the bed as everything spins around her.
Dungeon Master: Glinda made Dorothy trek through Oz on her quest to get home, only to tell Dorothy that she already knew the ruby shoes could get her home. Of course she never abandoned her, she simply knew the only way Dorothy could learn to work the shoes was through first-hand experience.
Exact Words: In this version, the Wizard doesn't actually demand that Dorothy and her companions act as assassins (as he does in the novel) he merely demands they bring her broomstick. Of course, they quickly realize that his intent is for them to kill her, as they'd never get it any other way.
Forced to Watch: What the Wicked Witch attempts at the climax. "The last one to go will see the first three go before her, and her mangy little dog too."
The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: When Dorothy is trapped in the Witch's castle, she sees an image of Aunt Em looking around for her in the Witch's crystal ball. Dorothy futily tries to call out to her, but Aunt Em's image is replaced by the Wicked Witch who mocks Dorothy and then turns to cackle directly at the audience as if to say "I'm coming for you next!"
Happy Place: The entire Land of Oz is this for Dorothy, a place where there isn't any trouble (for the first two acts, at least) and bathed in color.
Hostage for MacGuffin: Subverted in that the Wicked Witch demands the ruby slippers in return for Toto, but the slippers are stuck to Dorothy's feet and won't come off. Although Dorothy agrees to hand over the slippers, the Witch gets a nasty shock when she tries to remove them.
Lighter and Softer: In some regards, though a few elements are also noticeably darker than in the book. In particular, Dorothy and her companions come off as a bit more innocent here, whereas the book featured them occasionally having to use violence to overcome the odds against them (the book has them outright killing the animals that the Witch sends against them, and it includes a scene where the Cowardly Lion proves his courage by killing a monster in its sleep). The Tin Man's grisly origin, where he got his metal body after a magic spell cursed him to hack off his limbs, is also never brought up in the movie.
Mean Character, Nice Actor: Margaret Hamilton, aka, The Wicked Witch, used to be a Kindergarten teacher. (And not coincidentally, one reason she took the role was because she was a fan of the book series, which she had read to her students.)
The 1940 trailer includes footage from costume tests.
The trailers from 1949, 1955, and 1970 briefly show a Cut Song celebrating Dorothy's defeat of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Mood Whiplash: The movie cuts right from "Over the Rainbow" to Miss Gulch riding in on her bicycle, complete with that music.
After first blowing the audience's mind by going from sepia to technicolor and giving one cheerful Ear Worm after another, everything comes crashing down when the Wicked Witch of the West appears in a flash of fire.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Uncle Henry. Just looking at him you can tell he's just playing dumb to avoid trouble from Miss Gulch, like the way he asks if Dorothy was the one who bit her right before slamming the gate on her ass.
Also, the Scarecrow is a possibility, in that he professes himself as brainless while coming up with solutions to predicaments and always coming up with good ideas. (One early example: How he tricked the nasty trees into throwing their apples at him and Dorothy because she was hungry and they wouldn't give them up any other way.) It may be more of a case of self-deception. The Scarecrow's even more like that in the original book.
Pan and Scan: Inverted. The movie was filmed in 4:3, but the theatrical re-releases from 1955 and 1999 presented the movie with the top and bottom missing for widescreen projection. The IMAX 3D re-release restores the movie to its original 4:3 aspect ratio.
Paper Tiger: When the Cowardly Lion first appears he acts in an aggressive manner, charging the group and challenging them to a fight. When he tries to attack Toto, Dorothy smacks him on the nose and he starts crying. Granted, the Cowardly Lion also turns out to be a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass later on.
Playing Gertrude: Inverted. Billie Burke, who played the beautiful (and seemingly young) Glinda the good witch was in her mid-50's. She was only four years younger than Clara (Auntie Em) Blandick.
Plucky Girl: Dorothy is a bit more subdued, but the pluck is still there.
Pragmatic Adaptation: The movie. It can, at times, be difficult to find someone who knows that there are two good witches, let alone the rest of the stuff cut from the book.
Punch Clock Villain: The Wicked Witch's guards, judging by how they react to the heroes killing her.
Rays from Heaven: These are used very blatantly during "Over the Rainbow" — a shot of them through the thick clouds temporarily breaks the footage of Dorothy singing. They emphasise the sky theme and show the height of her hopes.
Reality Is Unrealistic: The Cowardly Lion's costume looks like something whipped up from old plush and yak fur. It was actually made from a real lion, complete with paws and tail.
Real Is Brown: For the first part of the film the colouring is a sepiatoned brown, right up until Dorothy steps out into Munchkin Land. Even after all these years, the effect can be quite shocking upon a first viewing.
The Remake: Of a version made in 1925, which also wasn't the first Oz film. There were two silent-era versions of Oz. The earliest one can be viewed here.
Remaster: In 1989, the Kansas portions of the movie had the sepia color scheme restored. Audiences for the theatrical re-releases and TV broadcasts from the previous 40 years had only seen them in plain black and white.
After this movie entered Warner Bros.' possession, along with the rest of the pre-1986 MGM library, WB developed a tendency to comission new restorations every few years, as Technology Marches On and fans become able to watch the movie at home in progressively higher resolutions.
Royal Decree: The Wizard gives one at the end, telling the people to follow Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man in his stead.
Sanity Slippage: The Wicked Witch of the West undergoes one in the second half. Granted, she was always insane as far as the picture was concerned, but up until she figured out that the ruby slippers had been charmed to Dorothy's feet by magic and won't come off as long as she lives, her main goal was to get them back and to get revenge on Dorothy for killing the Witch of the East. Afterwards, she becomes more and more obsessed with destroying Dorothy and her friends with extreme prejudice; the last few times she antagonized the others, it was for helping Dorothy and, later, for trespassing in her territory.
Self Guarding Phlebotinum: When the Wicked Witch of the West tries to take the Ruby Slippers from Dorothy's feet, they generate an electric shock field that prevents their removal.
Snake Oil Salesman: Professor Marvel was one, and sort of a Loveable Rogue type, using his "skills" to trick Dorothy into going home by making her think her aunt was ill when he found out she ran away.
Standard Snippet: During the escape sequence at the Witch's castle, between the breaking of the door and the Witch's arrival with the hourglass, the soundtrack uses some of Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain.
For a long time, people thought that a crowned crane in the scene where Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man resume their journey was a guy hanging himself. You can blame the bad image quality.
And of course the Pink FloydThe Dark Side of the Moon soundtrack synching legend. Vigorously denied by the band, who have pointed out that the audio technology, necessary to make the film soundtrack and rock album synch this precisely with each other, didn't exist in 1973.
The 1981 comedy flop Under The Rainbow was based on Urban Legends of hijinks which went on behind-the-scenes among the many little people hired to play Munchkins in the film.
Vile Villain, Saccharine Show:In this version of the story the Land of Oz is portrayed as a Sugar Bowl, but the Wicked Witch remains being just as mean (if not meaner) than her literary counterpart.
We Do the Impossible: The Wizard's reputation, entirely undeserved. Arguably, Dorothy gains this reputation through her adventures.
Welcoming Song: After the Munchkins have finished singing about how happy they are that Dorothy has killed the Witch, they sing "We Welcome You to Munchkin Land".
What Could Have Been: Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as The Scarecrow, and Ray Bolger was to play the Tin Woodsman. However, Bolger convinced the studio that his style of dancing was completely wrong for that character (just try to picture the Woodsman dancing like the Scarecrow), so Ebsen agreed to switch roles with him. In an unforeseen complication, however, Ebsen had an extreme allergic reaction to the aluminum dust used in the Tin Man's makeup, and was forced to quit the film.
Early on in the film's development, MGM discovered that Walt Disney was working on his own version of the Oz story at the same time. Rather than going head-to-head, both studios actually held discussions of possibly combining the two projects into a live action/animation hybrid movie, with MGM doing the live action and Disney doing the animation. Scheduling issues ultimately ended the collaboration, and Disney shortly after cancelled his own version of the film in favor of other projects so as not to compete with MGM's version.
Shirley Temple was wanted for the role of Dorothy and there were negotiations to loan her out from Fox. Deanna Durbin was also considered before Judy Garland was cast.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite kicking off the events of the plot, Miss Gulch's plan to have Toto put down is never even mentioned again when Dorothy gets back to Kansas. It's possible that the tornado simply gave Miss Gulch more important things to worry about, but this is never stated; another theory is that when we saw Miss Gulch swept up in the tornado (before she became the Wicked Witch,) that actually happened and she died in the aftermath.
In the Haunted Forest, when asked if he's afraid of spooks, the Tin Woodman claims he doesn't believe in them; the Lion is more honest — after the Tin Woodman is lifted aloft and dropped by something invisible.
You Look Familiar: Frank Morgan plays four different roles in Oz—the doorman at the gate, the coachman who drives the Horse of a Different Color, the guard outside the Wizard's chamber, and the Wizard himself.