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Western Animation / Journey Back to Oz

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Journey Back to Oz is a 1972 (although completed in 1971, and not released in North America until 1974) Filmation feature film, meant to be the official sequel to the 1939 The Wizard of Oz. It's very, very loosely based off of L. Frank Baum's The Marvelous Land of Oz, though Baum is not given any writing credit.

After Dorothy is knocked unconscious immediately prior to a tornado, she awakens to find herself and Toto in Oz once again. After meeting Jack Pumpkinhead, she learns that the Wicked Witch, Mombi, plans to Take Over Oz by use elephants. She and Jack flee Mombi's home and try to warn The Scarecrow (now the king of Oz), meeting a talking wooden horse named Woodenhead Stallion. Unfortunately, the scarecrow is captured by Mombi, along with Toto, and the trio try to seek help from the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, both of whom are too afraid to help them. But Glinda tells Dorothy that she can save Oz herself, with her new friends, an in-case-of-emergency silver box, and a little of her own special magic.


Compare the subsequent Filmation productions Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night and Happily Ever After, unofficial sequels to Disney's Pinocchio and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs respectively.

Tropes included:

  • Adapted Out: It's an adaptation of The Marvellous Land of Oz that doesn't even mention Tip/Ozma, to say nothing of most of the other characters it introduced to Oz lore.
  • All Just a Dream: As in the 1939 film Dorothy's adventure in Oz is framed as an extended dream sequence, and is once again the result of her being knocked unconscious during a cyclone; she even comes to in the same place she collapses at the end. She still regards all the events as real, however.
  • And I Must Scream: This is part of Woodenhead's unhappy backstory, as explained in his "I Am" Song: After he was pulled loose from the carousel he'd been "employed" on, he rolled down a hill — still with a pole stuck in his back. When he landed, it was upside down, with the other end of the pole stuck in the ground. Unable to pull himself out and with no one else around to help, he was plenty miserable before Dorothy and Pumpkinhead arrived and freed him.
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  • Animal Stampede: The wicked witch Mombi meets their doom this way, when the evil pachyderms are spooked by the magical mice and flee en masse from the Emerald City. Mombi, disguised as a rose and rooted to the spot, gets trampled horribly by her own massive minions.
  • Animated Musical: Follwing on from the 1939 film being a musical, there's a dozen musical numbers here, including two Villain Songs and one song used three times over as an analogue to "If I Only Had a Brain" for Dorothy's original sidekicks.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: During their first encounter, Mombi gets Dorothy to sit upon her "strong-arm chair" — which promptly seizes the girl by the arms, trapping her. Pumpkinhead manages to rescue her.
  • Avenging the Villain: Mombi is the cousin of the Wicked Witches of the East and West, and her Evil Plan is partially motivated by this trope since the Scarecrow had a hand in the latter's defeat. When she realizes the little girl who's exploring her cottage is Dorothy, she's delighted by the opportunity to do her in too.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Mombi; as she explains in "If You're Gonna Be a Witch, Be a Witch", this trait runs in her family (the title is her mother's dying advice to her).
  • Casting Gag:
    • Dorothy is voiced by Liza Minnelli, whose mother was Judy Garland, the 1939 version's Dorothy.
    • Aunt Em is voiced by Margaret Hamilton, who played Miss Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film; for bonus points this Aunt Em is the polar opposite of those characters in terms of personality!
  • Cats Are Mean: Mombi's cat.
  • Composite Character:
    • Since the plot is (very loosely) based on Marvelous Land, Woodenhead Stallion is the Sawhorse, but his origin and appearance is based on the merry-go-round horse from Merry-Go-Round in Oz, the last of the "Famous Forty" Oz novels.
    • This film's Mombi is a composite of her namesake from Marvelous Land (Wicked Witch who brought Pumpkinhead to life) and General Jinjur (the head of the army that conquers the Emerald City and ousts the Scarecrow), though substantially more evil than the latter as part of making her a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Cowardly Lion: The perpetually-anxious Jack Pumpkinhead. Ironically, the Cowardly Lion himself has become even more cowardly than he was originally, abandoning his friends for his own well-being!
  • Creepy Crows: Mombi owns one that she's taught to speak and which serves as her primary Non-Human Sidekick. He's especially excited to see the Scarecrow captured and tormented since he has a bad history with his kind. Mombi even tears out some of the Scarecrow's stuffing and tosses it to the crow so he can use it to build a new nest!
  • Crystal Ball: Mombi has one, not surprsing as her cousin the Wicked Witch of the West did. Glinda has a good counterpart in the form of her pet bird's "Tattle Tail".
  • Darker and Edgier: Well, at least more depressing. The Lion and Tin Man refuse to confront Mombi and her elephants, becoming more cowardly than their original selvesespecially the Tin Man.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Woodenhead Stallion has shades of this, owing to his hard life giving him a cynical perspective on the world.
  • Dirty Coward: The Tin Man and Cowardly Lion, inexplicably. The film tries to justify this by framing the magical green elephants as a uniquely terrible threat that both really have no way of challenging — the Lion is ready to help until he finds out about the "magical" part (i.e. regular elephants wouldn't put him off) — but it still comes off as out-of-character considering the threats they faced with Dorothy the first time around, even more so because they don't have magical abilities (they just trample stuff like regular ones do) but rather were magically created.
  • Disney Death: Jack Pumpkinhead undergoes this in the denouement since Mombi died and her magic brought him to life. Luckily, Dorothy's love-infused tears bring him back.
  • Elephants Are Scared of Mice: This serves as a major plot point. The box Glinda gives Dorothy to use when the situation is most dire contains an apparently infinite supply of white mice. They are sufficiently frightening to the elephants to send them fleeing, ruining Mombi's plan. In fact they trample Mombi to death, after which they vanish altogether.
  • Elephants Never Forget: As she leads her green elephants to the Emerald City and they trample over everything in their path, Mombi sings that "An Elephant Never Forgets".
  • Evil Is Hammy: As voiced by Ethel Merman, Mombi cackles, snarls, and shrieks her way through the movie, and gets two Villain Songs, presaging the similar antics of Puppetino, the Emperor of the Night, and Lord Maliss a decade-plus later.
  • Hakuna Matata: Dorothy's second song, "Keep a Happy Thought", is her way of cheering up the anxious Pumpkinhead as they set off to the Emerald City to warn the Scarecrow of Mombi's plot.
  • Hammerspace: The tiny box Glinda gives Dorothy contains a plethora of white mice.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: In the climax, Mombi is trampled to death by her own elephants. For bonus points, she might have escaped this fate had she not turned herself into a rose beforehand as part of a Last Villain Stand.
  • Home Sweet Home: Dorothy misses Oz and wants to visit it again at the start of the movie, and once there her overriding concern becomes stopping Mombi and saving her friends. But once she's accomplished that, she wants to go home. When the Scarecrow asks her to stay in Oz for good this time, she explains in the song "That Feeling for Home" that when all is said and done, Kansas is where her heart will always be. She does promise to visit again someday as she is transported home (this time by Glinda's magically conjured tornado).
  • "I Am" Song: "The Horse on the Carousel" for Woodenhead describes his unhappy backstory.
  • Karmic Death: Mombi transforms herself into a flower with poisonous thorns to avoid being caught by Dorothy and co. This allows her to be trampled to death by her own elephants.
  • Last Villain Stand: As her Evil Plan falls apart, Mombi turns herself into a rose with poisonous thorns to not only go unnoticed by the heroes but possibly harm them as well. Instead it leaves her helpless against the elephant stampede.
  • No Ontological Inertia: After Mombi's defeat, Oz returns to normal and all her magic spells reverse. Including the one that was keeping Pumpkinhead alive.
  • Non-Human Sidekick:
    • Dorothy has Pumpkinhead and Woodenhead (and Toto for a little while, before he becomes Mombi's prisoner).
    • Mombi has her cat and crow, though more the latter than the former since the crow can speak.
    • Glinda has a "Glinda Bird" which resembles a peacock.
  • Limited Animation: What else do you expect from Filmation?
  • Lovable Coward: Jack Pumpkinhead. Ironically the Cowardly Lion himself is not, becoming far more cowardly than he already was.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: While the Cowardly Lion being cowardly is in character, the Tin Man trying to take care of his own hide rather than save his friend the Scarecrow is very unexpected from someone as compassionate as him.
  • Pep-Talk Song: Glinda the Good Witch cannot get rid of Mombi and her elephants directly, but she can provide some magical tools to Dorothy and her friends — plus this trope in the form of the song "You Have Only You", which is aimed at Dorothy and assures her that her kindness and courage can win the day. (In the end, this applies more to saving Pumpkinhead with The Power of Love than actually stopping Mombi.)
  • Re-Cut: The two commercial TV edits are unusual cases of this. Since the movie was too short for a two-hours-with-commercials timeslot, the 1976 network television version added a Christmas-themed live-action subplot involving the Wizard of Oz himself, played by Bill Cosby, using his hot-air balloon to ferry two children to Kansas to meet up with Dorothy. A later syndicated version featured live-action interstitials featuring Milton Berle (the Cowardly Lion's voice). Most of the Cosby segments appear as bonus features on the DVD release.
  • Related in the Adaptation: This Mombi is the cousin of the Wicked Witches of the East and West, and her plot to conquer Oz is at least partially motivated by a desire to get Revenge on the Scarecrow for his part in the latter's demise.
  • Shrink Ray: Mombi creates a shrinking potion that she intends to use on Toto so she can feed him to her pet cat. It ends up splashed on both the cat and her other pet, the crow, instead. They end up smaller than the magical mice and are forced to flee for their lives.
  • Spelling Song: One tune of this kind gets three variants for the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion in turn (as a direct analogue to the 1939 film's "If I Only Had a Brain") to explain why they're not able to confront Mombi. Respectively, there's "B-R-A-N-E" (note the misspelling), "H-E-A-R-T", and "N-E-R-V-E".
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: While a Composite Character of Mombi and General Jinjur from The Marvelous Land of Oz in terms of her plot function, this movie's Mombi is really a Captain Ersatz to the Wicked Witch of the West from the 1939 film. She even has green skin, with the justification that they're Related in the Adaptation. Her magical green elephants serve as this trope to the Flying Monkeys, though they pose an exponentially greater threat.
  • Swiss-Army Tears: In the denouement, Pumpkinhead comes back to life after Dorothy cries on him.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: When the Scarecrow gets kidnapped, you'd expect that the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion would try and help their friend right? Wrong, both have taken a level in cowardice, especially the Tin Man who is more concerned about his well-being than his friends' safety. Way to make the story dreary movie!
  • Trojan Horse: An unusual variation: It's a sentient wooden horse! The silver box Glinda gives Dorothy needs to be hidden from the villains' sight until they're back in the Emerald City, and Woodenhead — who is hollow — advises Dorothy to hide it inside him. He even refers to himself as a Trojan horse, and as it turns out the box contains an apparently infinite army of white mice.
  • Villain Song: "An Elephant Never Forgets" and "If You're Gonna Be a Witch, Be a Witch" for Mombi.
  • When Trees Attack: Mombi brings the trees in a forest to life to capture Dorothy, Pumpkinhead and Woodenhead as they ride towards the Emerald City with the mysterious silver box — and these are much larger than the living apple trees that Dorothy and the Scarecrow encountered in 1939! Luckily Glinda, like Mombi, is observing things from afar so, in an analogue to that film's poppy field sequence, she magically conjures up a golden axe for them to use on the trees. Rather than destroying them, the axe makes them friendly and harmless.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Dorothy and Glinda — but mostly Glinda, who doesn't even wear pink — when compared to their 1939 counterparts.