My Favorite Movies #18 – The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

1939

Directed by Victor Fleming

Quick synopsis… There’s no place like home for young Dorothy (Judy Garland), who’s been swept away from her farm in Kansas to a wonderland of munchkins, flying monkeys and different-colored horses. She must follow the Yellow Brick Road to the all-knowing Wizard of Oz to find her way home. Along the way, she meets the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), the Tin Man (Jack Haley) and the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), who help her fend off the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton).

  • I was introduced to The Wizard of Oz at a very young age and, as far as I know, I’ve always loved it.
  • I know a lot of people who hated this movie as kids because it scared them.
  • I mean… I guess the flying monkeys and the Wicked Witch of the West can be scary.
  • Never bothered me.
  • As a kid, I had the soundtrack on cassette tape and I would listen to it every night as I fell asleep.
  • I’d get through it one and a half times before I fell asleep, according to stories my parents told.
  • I would yell for one of them to come and turn the tape over when it reached the end of side 1 and side 2…
  • I was asleep by the time it got back to the end of side 1.
  • It was a neat soundtrack, too.
  • It wasn’t just the songs, it had snippets of dialogue from key scenes in the movie.
  • Anyway, the movie begins in sepia tones with Dorothy on her farm in Kansas.
  • She’s fretting over Ms. Gulch threatening to have her dog, Toto, put to sleep because she claims she was bitten.
  • Whether it’s true or not, she probably did something to deserve getting bitten.
  • Gulch is a horrible woman.
  • But she’s wealthy and has enough pull with the locals that she gets her way whenever she wants.
  • Dorothy tries to get her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em to help her, but they’re busy with minor catastrophes happening on the farm.
  • Gulch has an order from the sheriff saying that she’s allowed to take Toto, so it really can’t be fought.
  • But Toto escapes and runs back home.
  • Dorothy realizes that Gulch will just come back again, so she decides the best option is to run away.
  • Not far from home, Dorothy comes across Professor Marvel, a fortune teller who uses his trickery and false “powers” to convince Dorothy she needs to return home.
  • Just as she gets back home, a storm kicks up, but she’s not in time to get into the storm cellar.
  • She’s inside the house when a window bursts open from the wind, knocking her out.
  • Dorothy wakes up to find the house has been picked up by the tornado.
  • She sees people she knows floating around outside the house, including Ms. Gulch… who transforms into the Wicked Witch we all know she is.
  • The house lands with a thud and Dorothy steps out her front door to find she’s not in Kansas anymore.
  • She walks around a beautiful sound stage in all its Technicolor glory.
  • Dorothy and Toto are spied on by small people hiding among the flowers and bushes.
  • Then a huge, colorful soap bubble approaches.
  • Glinda, the good witch asks Dorothy if she’s a good witch or a bad witch.
  • She informs Dorothy that her house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East and the Munchkins want to know if she’s a good witch or a bad witch.
  • Dorothy is kind of insulted, saying she’s not a witch at all… that witches are old and ugly.
  • Glinda explains her status as a good witch and claims that only bad witches are ugly.
  • So what is she implying about Dorothy when she asked if she was a good witch or bad witch?
  • Dorothy should be insulted.
  • These Munchkins are super excited that this poor farm girl just accidentally murdered someone she’d never met before.
  • It’s a little disturbing.
  • But, I guess if the Munchkins were all enslaved by the witch, it makes sense that they would be excited enough to come up with spontaneous songs in tribute to Dorothy.
  • After several rousing choruses of “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead,” Dorothy is confused when another wicked witch appears in their midst.
  • Glinda is there with exposition…
  • This is the Wicked Witch of the West, the dead witch’s sister.
  • Apparently, she’s worse than the Wicked Witch of the East was.
  • You can always count on Glinda for some good news.
  • The witch accuses Dorothy of killing her sister, but she explains it was just an accident.
  • The witch is about to threaten Dorothy with an accident of her own, but Glinda reminds her of the ruby slippers on her dead sister’s feet.
  • She goes back for the slippers, but they vanish, magically appearing on Dorothy’s feet.
  • Once again, let’s thank Glinda for painting a target on Dorothy’s back by magicking those ruby slippers onto her feet.
  • I really think Glinda hates Dorothy.
  • Glinda warns the Wicked Witch of the West to leave before someone drops a house on her, too.
  • Before she leaves, she warns Dorothy to “just try to stay out of my way…” leading to one of those famous classic lines…
  • “I’ll get you, my pretty! And your little dog, too!”
  • And then the Wicked Witch disappears in a ball of fire.
  • Not so fun fact: Margaret Hamilton suffered 3rd degree burns when, during one take, the trapdoor failed to open while the pyrotechnics still went off.
  • Once the Wicked Witch is gone, Glinda has the nerve to say, “I’m afraid you’ve made a very bad enemy of the Wicked Witch of the West.”
  • Uh… I think she means “I’m afraid I’ve made you into a very bad enemy of the Wicked Witch of the West.”
  • I think the truth is that Glinda has designs on ruling Oz.
  • She makes Dorothy into her powerful puppet with those ruby slippers she has no idea how to use, then sends her off to the Wizard, knowing full well that old coot won’t help her unless she takes out the other Wicked Witch.
  • And then when the Wizard up and leaves with Dorothy, who’s left to fill that power void in Oz?
  • Glinda the “Good,” that’s who.
  • Is this a fan theory that anyone’s ever floated out there before?
  • If not, I want full credit.
  • Anyway, you all know the story from here… right?
  • Dorothy makes her way toward the Emerald City and meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion.
  • They all have something they need to ask from the Wizard.
  • Scarecrow wants a brain, Tin Woodman wants a heart, and the Lion wants courage.
  • The Wizard, true to form, refuses to help them until they retrieve the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • I figure he’s sending them on this impossible quest, assuming they’ll die in the process or fail miserably.
  • Either way, he won’t have to comply with their requests.
  • Because he can’t…
  • Spoiler alert… the Wizard is really no wizard at all.
  • I bet he’s never even heard of Hogwarts.
  • He’s an old man who’s just a phony.
  • Too bad for him, Dorothy and her fellas succeed in their quest when they accidentally melt the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Turns out she’s allergic to water.
  • Must make bath time pretty rough, huh.
  • So… in the span of about an hour, Dorothy has “accidentally” killed two women.
  • I wonder if she’s ever “accidentally” killed anyone else over the years.
  • The good guys return to Emerald City with the witch’s broomstick and demand to have their demands met.
  • Toto discovers the man behind the curtain, who basically bulls#!ts his way through the rest of the movie.
  • He hands out placebos to the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion.
  • But he actually has to deliver with Dorothy, and claims he can take her home the same way he arrived in Oz: a hot air balloon.
  • He doesn’t actually know how to do that, either, and winds up leaving without her.
  • Then, wouldn’t you know it, Glinda shows up.
  • Thanks to those ruby slippers, Dorothy’s had the power to get back home this whole time.
  • But if Glinda had told Dorothy that back in the Munchkin village, she couldn’t have manipulated Dorothy into killing the Wicked Witch for her.
  • Wait… is that the plot of Wicked? I’ve never seen it…
  • Though, I do question the power of the slippers.
  • Glinda tells Dorothy to click her heels together and repeat, “There’s no place like home.”
  • But while Dorothy is doing that, Glinda is waving her wand behind Dorothy’s head.
  • If it weren’t all a dream, I’d say Glinda’s the one who actually sent Dorothy back home.
  • Probably sent the tornado to bring her to Oz in the first place, too.
  • The movie does end with the implication that it was all a dream.
  • But that’s now how things turn out in the books.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is my favorite book of all time and it is so different from this movie.
  • Dorothy’s in Oz for days and days… maybe even weeks.
  • Her trip to the Emerald City is filled with so many more mini adventures that are never explored in the movie.
  • I once came across an image of a synopsis of the movie from a newspaper clipping that someone had uploaded to the internet that I think is hilariously accurate…
  • “Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.”

Next week’s movie gets into the superhero genre with a sequel that had two different directors and, eventually, two different versions. Any guesses?

3 thoughts on “My Favorite Movies #18 – The Wizard of Oz

  1. I expelled air rapidly out of my nose after reading that last bullet. 🙂

    Here’s a one-off tidbit: in northern Virginia there is a city called Crystal City that’s built underground; it’s pretty cool. Well my granddad was one of the foremen that helped build Crystal City and when my mom was little, he told her that he was helping build the Emerald City. She then told my brother and me that same fib when we were young, so now anytime I hear/read about the Emerald City I think about my grandpa whom I’ve never met. 🙂

    Like

  2. Wicked is about how the Wicked Witches and Glinda came to be. It’s an interesting story but the ending does not correspond to The Wizard Of Oz, like it should.
    I had a nurse years ago who knew the lady that played The Wicked Witch Of The West. She said she was a really nice lady. Interesting tidbit about her getting burned. Thank You

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: My Top 100 Movies | The Confusing Middle

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