- "Oh we're off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, we hear he is a wiz of a wiz if ever a wiz there was, if rather or whether a wiz there was the Wizard of Oz is one because; because, because, because, because, because...because of the Wonderful things he does. We're off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz!"
- ―(1939 Song Lyrics Sung By Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley & Bert Lahr)
- "There's no place like Home..."
- ―Dorothy Gale
- "Lions and Tigers and Bears...Oh My!"
- ―Dorothy Gale
- "Poppies... Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep. Sleeeeep. Now they'll sleeeeep..."
- ― Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West
- "For nearly fourty years this story has given faithful service to Young in Heart; and time has been powerless to put its kindly philosophy out of fashion. To those of you who have been faithful to it in return, and to the Young in heart, we dedicate this picture."
- ― MGM Studios.
The Most Beloved Film of All Time...
The Wizard of Oz is a famously iconic Hollywood musical produced by MGM in 1939, consisting almost of an all star cast. It was statistically determined to be the most watched movie in the history of cinema.
It was one of the very first full length pictures along with few others, such as Gone With The Wind (1939) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), to be shot in Three Strip Technicolor instead of in all black and white or Two Strip Technicolor, The film was directed by Victor Fleming.The songs were written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, and one of them, "Over the Rainbow," won the Oscar for "Best Song of the Year." It was also the film that gave actress Judy Garland one of her most iconic roles. She won a Juvenile Academy Award for her performance as the little Kansas farm girl named Dorothy Gale.
The movie itself is loosely based upon the original book which is considered to be the first American Fairy tale known as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. The book was originally published in the year 1900 and though the film version departs a great deal from the actual source material, leaving many characters out and dropping several elements in order for the story to translate on to the big screen for it's time, The Wizard of Oz never loses the moral and tender message that the book gave and is known to be one of the most timeless, ceremonially watched family movies ever. The film is also famous for being traditionally played every year annually on various television stations during Thanksgiving and Christmas, allowing each generation to share the magic and fall under its irresistible spell.
- "Are you a Good Witch, or a Bad Witch...?"
- ―Billie Burke as Glinda the Good (1939)
- "Now close yor eyes, and tap your heels together three times, and repeat to yourself; There's no place like home... "
- ―Glinda (1939)
THE WIZARD OF OZ Detailed Summary
The film starts out with credits, which open up with a very cloudy background in a black and white sepia tone.
After the film dedicates the picture to the ones young at heart, we open with the movie taking place in rural Kansas, also filmed in gloomy sepia tone. Although this movie was released in 1939, cars, phones, and household electricity, things that were a part of everyday life in the 30s, are never seen in any of the Kansas scenes, hinting that the movie is probably set in an even earlier time period. the first character we are introduced to is the protagonist and heroine of the tale named Dorothy Gale (played by late actress and singer Judy Garland). Dorothy is a girl in her early teens, and slightly troubled orphan seen running down the prairie dirt road with her little pet dog, Toto. They have just come from the unseen schoolhouse, as they return to Dorothy's Aunt Em (Clara Blandick) and Uncle Henry (Charley Grapewin) who both live at an old farm up the road. After a disastrous encounter with the snooty and mean spirited neighbor, Miss Almira Gulch, (Margaret Hamilton), Dorothy is in a deep dilemma. To her dismay, it seems as if no one at the farm cares or is interested in this as Dorothy tries to tell the adults about her problems. The adults around her are simply far too busy to be bothered by Dorothy and her childish nonsense as they are accessing the chicken coops and the baby chicks.
The other three wise cracking Kansas farmhands, Hunk (Ray Bolger), Hickory (Jack Haley), and Zeke (Bert Lahr), are also too busy at work on the wagon and pigpens and do not want to hear Dorothy rambling and ranting on about her misfortune that took place earlier that day. Everyone tells Dorothy to just try and stay out of the way and find some place where there isn't any trouble. However, Dorothy day dreams of a care-free and more colorful world, a land where there isn't any trouble. Dorothy then sings a pretty melancholy song about such a place somewhere over the rainbow.
Later that same day, the neighbor Miss Gulch finally arrives on her bicycle to the Gale farm and announces to Uncle Henry that she will have Toto destroyed because Toto got into her garden, chased her old cat and even bit her when she hit him on the back with a rack in defense. Miss Gulch has gotten the Kansas Sheriff to give her a legitimate order for Toto to be taken.
Despite Aunt Em defending her niece's dog, Miss Gulch insist that Toto is now hers. She takes Toto away from a crying Dorothy and in a basket on her bike to be put down. Dorothy is devastated and runs to her bedroom heartbroken. Luckily, while Miss Gulch is riding her bicycle down the dirt road, Toto is clever enough to jump out of the basket to escape and he loyally runs back to his owner, Dorothy.
Dorothy is delighted when Toto returns. But then she also realizes that Miss Gulch will return for him sooner or later. So Dorothy decides to pack her basket and a traveling suitcase to run far away to escape all her troubles.
After a few miles of walking aimlessly, Dorothy crosses over a small bridge where she encounters a friendly fortune teller named Professor Marvel, (Frank Morgan) who stays by himself with his horse in a wagon beside the road by a calm creek. Dorothy asks if she can come along with him and see all of the crowned heads of Europe. He guesses correctly that she is running away and pretends to consult a crystal ball within his wagon (in reality taking Dorothy's basket and looking at a photo of Aunt Em as Dorothy has her eyes closed). Professor Marvel tricks Dorothy, for her own good, and makes up a phony story about Aunt Em being suddenly ill and grief stricken over Dorothy leaving and might die from a broken heart. Dorothy then realizes how selfish she has been by not thinking about her Aunt's feelings and not taking her guardians into consideration. In a panic for her Aunt's health, Dorothy grabs Toto and after thanking Professor Marvel she turns around and heads back to her family right away.
It's A Twister!
However, by this time an unexpected storm has approached, bringing a deadly cyclone that has hit the Kansas prairies and is headed for the Gale farm. Aunt Em looks for Dorothy as she screams out her name. But Uncle Henry takes a frightened Aunt Em as there is no time to wait for Dorothy, and with the three farm hands everyone safely hides in the storm cellar.
The wind howls and blows terribly, but Dorothy finally reaches the backyard cellar, yet is unable to get in because it is locked. Despite her cries to let her in, the sound of the storm is too fierce for Dorothy's voice to be heard. Dorothy runs back onto the farmhouse and finds shelter safe inside her bedroom. The pressure of the wind is so strong and violent by now that it finally causes a window pane in Dorothy's bedroom to break inward and hits Dorothy on the head, knocking her unconscious as she lays on her bed beside Toto. Then, a strange thing happens, the tornado lifts up the farmhouse from its foundation without demolishing it and the house twirls upward until it reaches the clouds and is sucked into the heart of the cyclone.
When Dorothy awakens minutes later to the sound of a rooster crowing at her window, she looks out and sees the inside of the storm, and she realizes she must be inside of the tornado. Then Dorothy and Toto see many other people and even animals who were also caught up into the storm. And to Dorothy's horror, she sees none other than Miss Gulch who is still riding on her bicycle. The woman suddenly makes a hideous transformation and turns into a Wicked Witch with a pointed hat and long cape as she confidently flies on her broomstick while laughing at Dorothy in a crackling voice. The house then begins to spin and twirl in the air uncontrollably and the storm finally releases the farmhouse and drops it, falling with gravity as it descends from out the sky.
Not in Kansas anymore
- "...Kansas she says is the name of the star..."
- ―Glinda (1939)
The farmhouse finally lands, and all is silent. Once the coast is clear, Dorothy grabs Toto in her arms and eagerly rushes to open the front door of the house to step outside. As the door is opened, the film transitions to Technicolor. Dorothy is amazed and left speechless by what she sees before her very eyes. She finds herself in the midst of a country consisting of marvelous landscaping and breathtaking beauty. The sky above is bright blue and there are lovely green hills in the distance with tall, stately trees bearing rich and luscious fruits. Meadows and banks of giant gorgeous flowers blossom on every hand and birds sing sweetly. A little ways off is a small babbling brook of blue water that leads into a little blue pond filled with giant lily pads which is centered in the middle of what seems to be a little town, of little houses with domed roofs, all built for little people. Dorothy then realizes she is no longer in Kansas, but must be over the Rainbow.
As Dorothy stands absolutely mesmerized by the sights around her, Glinda, (Billie Burke) the beautiful Good Witch of the North, appears before her in a big pink magical floating bubble. Dressed in an elegant glittering gown adorned with diamonds and a matching headpiece, Glinda slowly approaches Dorothy to ask the girl if she is a Good Witch or a Bad Witch. Dorothy denies being any type of Witch at all, neither her dog Toto. Glinda then informs Dorothy that she is in the magical Land of Oz, and that her farmhouse landed on the Wicked Witch of the East, which killed her. As Glinda says this she also points with her magic wand directly at the farmhouse, to Dorothy's shock, there indeed are two stocking feet sticking from under the fallen establishment adorned in a dazzling pair of sparkling Ruby Slippers. Glinda also tells Dorothy that the Munchkins who live in the east are the little people who live in the tiny house seen about.
Thanks to Dorothy, the Munchkins are now free of the Wicked Witch forever who apparently kept them in her bondage for a long time. As Glinda assures the Munchkins that Dorothy will not harm them, the Munchkins come out of their hiding spots and a big celebration is thrown throughout Munchkinland. Dorothy is even declared a Hero by the Mayor of Munchkin city and all of the Munchkin county council.
The celebration is interrupted when the Wicked Witch of the East's green skinned sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, (Margaret Hamilton) who appears in a cloud of flaming fire and red smoke. This Witch is said to be much worse than her sister and she is very angry to see her sister is now dead and demands to know who is responsible for her sister's demise. Glinda then reminds the Wicked Witch of her sister's precious slippers, but before the Wicked Witch can take them to claim as her own, Glinda cleverly uses her own magic powers to teleport them onto Dorothy's feet to keep them out of the hands of evil. Just as the Wicked Witch reaches out to grab them the shoes vanish and as a result her dead sister's bare stocking feet curl up and shrink under Dorothy's house. When the Witch ask where the pair are, Glinda reveals that Dorothy is now the new official owner.
This upsets the Wicked Witch tremendously and she threatens Dorothy to give the shoes back as she is the only one who knows how to properly use them. But Glinda tells Dorothy to keep tight inside of them for their magic is very powerful. Glinda reminds the ill tempered Witch that she has no power in Munchkinland, and advises her to immediately leave at once before someone drops a house on her also! So the frightened Wicked Witch threatens Dorothy to watch her back, and promises to get her sooner or later, and her little dog too. Disappearing in the same way she came, the Wicked Witch vanishes in a cloud of fire and smoke. Soon Dorothy asks Glinda how she is supposed to get back home again to her family in Kansas, since she did not bring her own broomstick. Glinda tells Dorothy that only the great and Wonderful Wizard of Oz can truly help her. And Glinda explains that the Wizard is the most powerful and mysterious figure within all the land and lives as a recluse in the Emerald City, which is a very long journey from Munchkinland. To get there, Dorothy must follow the Yellow Brick Road which leads all the way to the city gates. Before departing, Glinda carefully warns Dorothy to never take off the magic Ruby Slippers even for a minute, or she will be at the mercy of the Wicked Witch of the West. Glinda then kisses Dorothy upon her forehead for luck and gracefully disappears up into the sky inside of her pink magic bubble again.
The Munchkins wish Dorothy and Toto a happy journey and wave farewell as she and the dog skip along the yellow paved road before them.
On the Yellow Brick Road
Along the yellow brick road, Dorothy reaches a wide crossroads, and while confused as to which way to turn next, she also meets a talking Scarecrow (Played by Ray Bolger), on a pole in a nearby cornfield to scare off the crows. The Scarecrow is deeply unhappy because he cannot fulfill his purpose and successfully scare the crows away. He also is unsatisfied because he doesn't have a brain. Dorothy tells him about the Wizard and how she is on her way to see him. With Dorothy's approval, the Scarecrow decides to come along with her and Toto in hopes that the wizard might give him some brains as he will send Dorothy back to her home in Kansas. The two then set out on the yellow brick road again and continue on with their long journey.
After tricking some rather mean trees and getting some of their delicious apples to eat for a hardy snack, they discover a Tin Man (Played by Jack Haley) on the side of the road hidden by trees and bushes. They see that the man is entirely made out of tin and is also completely rusted. He mumbles in agony for his oilcan and Dorothy and the Scarecrow oil up his joints so he can properly move again and talk without any restraint. After thanking them for freeing him from his prison of rust, the Tin Man tells them a sad story, that he is empty inside because the Tinsmith who made his tin body forgot to add a heart to love. After thinking it over, they invite him to also come with them so the wizard can give him a heart as he will give Dorothy a way home and the Scarecrow a set of brains.
While getting properly acquainted, the trio are interrupted and threatened by the Wicked Witch who appears above them on the moss covered roof of a nearby wooden cottage. She warns them that if they venture any further or help Dorothy in anyway, that she'd stuff a mattress with Scarecrow and use Tin Man for a beehive. The Scarecrow and Tin Man stand up to the Witch as she throws a flaming fire ball in her hand at them before disappearing again. The Scarecrow is afraid he will burn but the Tin Man quickly puts out the fire with his tin hat. The two both reassure Dorothy they will make sure she gets safely to the Emerald City to the Wizard whether they get brains or heart or not. After announcing that they are now all best friends, they began their quest to see the Wizard.
They follow the yellow brick road which eventually leads them into a dark and scary forest in the night, with only the moonlight to guide them. This forest turns into a thick jungle filled with many dangers to be aware of such as lions and tigers and bears. Here they come across the Cowardly Lion, (Bert Lahr) who jumps out of the darkness and on to the road before them. The Lion loudly roars furiously at the travelers to scare them. He mercilessly bullies the Scarecrow and the Tin Man who both fall down at the side of the road while Dorothy hides behind a big tree. The Lion sees Toto, who barks and growls at him so the Lion pursues to bite him. Dorothy, afraid for her dog defends her pet and slaps the Lion on the nose very hard before lecturing the beast. To the group's surprise, the Lion has a breakdown and begins to cry and sob. He finally confesses and admits to tell them the truth about being a coward. He even admits he is scared of himself and hasn't slept in weeks.
Dorothy and her friends sympathize and forgive him before inviting the sad Lion to see the Wizard.
Merry Old Land Of Oz
Later on, the travelers make it out of the dark forest and into the bright daylight again. There before them, over hills and meadows of beautiful Poppies, they see the magnificent Emerald City of Oz sparkling and glowing in the distance.
However, the Wicked Witch of the West has been spying on them the entire time through her magic crystal ball within her dark castle. The Wicked Witch creates a magic potion to poison the poppy flowers in the field the travelers are crossing to put Dorothy to sleep and sabotage her to slow her down for the Wicked Witch can finally retrieve her sister's Ruby Slippers and use their power to become the most powerful figure in all of Oz.
The poppies are indeed attractive to the eye, yet soothing to the smell and they begin to take full effect when the travelers are halfway into the meadow. This almost works as the Wicked Witch planned, and Dorothy, Toto and the Lion are put into a deep, deep sleep as the Scarecrow and Tin Man cry out for help. Glinda the Good Witch hears their pleas and uses her magical wand to make it suddenly snow out of the clear blue sky to stop the poppy field's curse. Dorothy, Toto and the Lion almost instantly wake up only to find the Tin Man has rusted himself crying. After they oil the Tin Man again, they all happily continue the journey. The group safely reach the gates of the glorious Emerald City at last.
At first, the Guardian of the Gates is skeptical to let them into the city, but they are welcomed to enter inside thanks to the Ruby Slippers, Dorothy is wearing. Once he sees the slippers on Dorothy's feet, he immediately opens the large green doors that lead into the glorious city.
Inside the city citizens are all fashionable people, wearing fancy green outfits and attractive robes. Before they are allowed to see Oz, the companions must take a tour of the beautiful city in a green buggy drawn by the "horse of a different color". The four are all taken to the Emerald City beauty shop and salon to wash and tidy up to look presentable for the meeting with the Wizard. The Scarecrow gets re-stuffed with brand new straw, the Tin Man gets his tin body polished, Dorothy gets her hair done and the Lion gets his claws clipped and a curly perm for his mane that is adorned with red silk bow.
Meanwhile, the Wicked Witch of the West is still very displeased that they arrived in the city unharmed and she sets out on her flying broomstick to write in the sky in big, thick black smoke above the city in giant letters which read: '"SURRENDER DOROTHY"'.
Dorothy, her friends and the citizens of the city all panic and question who is this Dorothy as everyone crowds together to consult the Wizard. The Soldier with the Green Whiskers tries to calm the city citizens down and tells them to go home and there is nothing to worry about. The citizens do as they are told and leave. But Dorothy and her friends tell the Soldier that Dorothy is the "Witch's Dorothy!" And to please inform the Wizard at once!
Soon after the gates of the Wizards palace are thrown open that lead into a very tall and wide yet dim hallway. At the end of the long hallway, is the extravagant royal throne room of Oz. Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion meet the great and Powerful Wizard in the form of a giant-over sized translucent green head above a large green chair surrounded by green smoke and flames of shooting fire. Each of them are allowed to speak with Oz's head one by one as he screams and shouts at them in a powerful intimidating voice, but no one dares to talk back or question his authority. He tells them all he is indeed willing to grant their requests and wishes. But here's the catch, only if they bring him the magic broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West first to prove they are worthy enough to deserve his assistance and his usage of power. The group then have no choice but to obey the Wizard's commands, which sadly would require them to destroy and kill the Wicked Witch. While entering into the dark and very spooky Haunted Forest, in the western country of Oz, and which is the only way to reach the Wicked Witch's castle, about a mile or so away, the Wicked Witch looks into her crystal ball and sees them coming. The Wicked Witch waste no time and sends her Flying Monkeys out into the sky to bring her the girl and her dog and reminds the pact to not damage the Ruby Slippers. The Monkeys fly away into the darkness and to the Haunted Forest to do as they are told.
Fly, Fly, Fly & Seize Them!
Dorothy and her friends see the Flying Monkeys in the sky coming straight towards them, so they run off as fast as they can in different directions. The army of Flying Monkeys are just as fast and they quickly attack, terrorize and bully Dorothy and her friends. The Monkeys beat and ruff up the Tin Man and pull the Scarecrow apart, leaving his straw scattered all around him. Then they chase after Dorothy and Toto and grab hold of them both, lifting them high into the sky bringing them to the Witch's castle as Dorothy screams in fear.
The Wicked Witch is now more satisfied as ever and tries to take the Ruby Slippers by threatening to drown little Toto in a river below the castle, even putting him in a basket in a very similar manner to Miss Gulch. Dorothy finally surrenders and agrees to give up the Ruby Slippers to the Witch in exchange for Toto back.
But when the Wicked Witch tries to have at the Ruby Slippers at last, they shoot an unpredictable and painful electric sparks out that shock the Witch's hands painfully. Toto, jumps out of the basket he is in and gets away to call for help. He safely escapes the castle grounds before anyone can catch him. This infuriates the Wicked Witch, who insists that it's more than Dorothy will.
The Wicked Witch then decides she has to kill Dorothy in the process if she wants the shoes all for herself. And as the Wicked Witch leaves she locks Dorothy in a room high up in a tower chamber with the hourglass of death, which represents Dorothy's time to be alive. The Wicked Witch abandons a frightened Dorothy, leaving her all alone as she goes off to figure out a way to take the Ruby Slippers off of Dorothy's feet without damaging the pair's power.
Meanwhile, Toto makes it back to the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion and takes them to the castle, showing them the way over a very rocky mountain. When they arrive to where the Witch lives they see the castle is guarded by mean Winkie guards with sharp weapons and spears.
They successfully and surprisingly beat up three of the Witch's Winkie guards who try to come up on them from behind. The three wear their uniforms to enter the castle in disguise. And Toto leads them up the castle stairs to the tower where Dorothy is locked in. The Tin Man chops down the door and breaks the lock with his axe, freeing the distraught, imprisoned Dorothy just seconds before the hourglass of death ran out of time. Dorothy is happy to see Toto and her friends again, but there is no time to lose! They all quickly try to flee from the Witch's castle out the main door, but are caught red handed and attacked by the Wicked Witch and her guards who are ordered to seize them. After a chase scene up the castle walls, the Winkie guards have them cornered as they point to aim the sharp spears they carry directly at the four threatening to stab them.
The Wicked Witch laughs and cackles. She wickedly taunts them all as she decides to kill everyone else and Dorothy last so she can watch. She starts with the Scarecrow first, taking her broomstick and setting the tip on fire from the flame of a torch on the wall of the castle and sets his arm on fire. The Scarecrow begins to panic and shout, Dorothy throws a nearby bucket of collecting rain water to put out the fire, which also accidentally splashes all over the Witch. To the Witch this brings her death and causes her to melt away as she is liquidated. Putting a final end to her Wicked ways.
To Dorothy's shock, the Winkie guards are thrilled that the Wicked Witch is dead, freeing them from her evil spell for serving her forever, they all hail Dorothy and bow down to her. To show their appreciation, they thank her by also giving her the Witch's broomstick as a reward and souvenir trophy.
The Man Behind The Curtain
The group make it back to the Emerald City. The Wizard seems surprised to see Dorothy and the friends return in one piece. The Wizard tells them to come back tomorrow. But Dorothy is angered at this so she demands for the Wizard to keep his promise and send her home. Toto sneaks off and pulls back a green curtain at the corner of the throne room, revealing a little old gray-haired man, (Frank Morgan) behind it dressed in a green suite, and Dorothy finds out that he is really the Wizard. Just using machines to project a giant head giving it's audience a fake illusion. Dorothy tells the Wizard that he is a very bad man for doing this, but the Wizard insists he is a very good man, but on the other hand just a very bad Wizard.
The Wizard tells the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion that they actually have what they have been searching for the entire time, and gives them items such as a diploma, a medal and heart-shaped pocket watch to remind them of this and so others will recognize them also. Keeping his promise and satisfying the three, he then turns to Dorothy and tells her that he is also from Kansas and came to Oz in a hot air balloon that was caught in a storm on a windy day at the circus fair. He then tells Dorothy he will gladly take her and Toto back home and even accompany her and the three will return to the land of E Pluribus Unum!
On the day the Balloon is to be launched, the Wizard tells all of the Emerald City citizens that are gathered around to watch him and Dorothy leave together, that the Scarecrow will officially rule over the Emerald City until he returns, if ever. Before the last few seconds of the departure, Toto jumps right out of Dorothy's arms to chase after a Siamese cat with blue eyes who is meowing at him in the crowd. Dorothy rushes off after her dog, not wanting to leave him. Unfortunately the Balloon takes off so quickly and floats away into the sky without before Dorothy is able to return. The Wizard sincerely apologizes as the Balloon fades higher and higher up into the sky and is never seen again. Dorothy is devastated and begins to cry as her three friends try comfort her. Dorothy tells everyone that she may never see Aunt Em again and doesn't know what to do. The Cowardly Lion suggest for Dorothy to live in Oz, but Dorothy tells him that Oz will never be like Kansas.
No place like Home
When all hope seems to be lost, Glinda the Good Witch appears for the second time in her magic floating bubble. She descends down into the city and the citizens all give her a low bow in her presence. Glinda then calms Dorothy down and tells her that she always had the power to return home to Kansas. She informs Dorothy that she has learned her lesson of value to become a better person, and appreciate the people who love her. And that there really is no place like home after all and tells her the magic slippers that she has been wearing all along will take her home in two seconds, and Toto too! Glinda explains that she chose not to tell Dorothy before because she wouldn't have believed her and simply needed to find out for herself and not take her blessings for granted. Dorothy then realizes she didn't have to run away to find her heart's desire, it was in front of her the entire time.
After a tearful goodbye with the Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow, to return to Kansas, Dorothy holds Toto tightly in her arms, closes her eyes and clicks her heels of the magic Ruby Slippers together three times and repeats to herself that: "There's no place like home." Time seems to stop as everything magically begins to go back to the way it was.
Back in a black and white sepia tone, Dorothy awakens in her old bedroom of the farmhouse and is back in Kansas. Aunt Em is at her side and has a rag over her forehead to ease the bump on Dorothy's head. Dorothy tries to explain what she saw in Oz, but a doubtful Aunt Em and Uncle Henry then tell her that the adventure she described was just a dream from a bump on the head. But Dorothy is convinced that her journey throughout the land of Oz was all in fact real. Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke reappear (whom she notices resemble the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion), and Professor Marvel (who resembles the Wizard) shows up at her window to see if Dorothy made it home safely. Toto jumps up onto the bed, and Dorothy tells everyone that she promises to never run away ever again, because she loves them all and "There's no place like home".
- Miss Gulch is nowhere to be seen, nor is she mentioned, this hints that she might have been hurt badly and died in the storm. Her fate is left up to the imaginations of the viewers. Since she turns into the Wicked Witch flying on her broomstick, she may have died just as the Wicked Witch of the East died under Dorothy's House.
Differences between source material and adaptation
- In the Oz book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and it's sequels, L. Frank Baum intended the Land of Oz to be an actual real place. A undiscovered uncivilized country inhabited by magical creatures and beings. It is stated that Oz is cut off from the rest of the normal world because it is all surrounded by a great vast Deadly Desert. Anything living that touches this desert, dies by instantly turning to sand. Oz is not just a delusion or dream that Dorothy had as it was made to be in the movie. In the later Oz books that Baum wrote as sequels to his first book, it is stated that the long-lost daughter of King Pastoria, Princess Ozma the child Queen and rightful ruler of Oz, magically cut the portal off and closed any possible way to be visited by outsiders to keep Oz pure from any non-believers. She did this right after Dorothy was made an official Princess of Oz. Ozma then invited Dorothy and Toto to live in Oz permanently along with a few other people including even Aunt Em and Uncle Henry.
- In the Book, Dorothy Gale is a little girl, a mere child and not a pre-teen as it was portrayed in the movie. It never mentions her age, but Baum stated her character was no older than twelve.
- In the movie, Dorothy attends a schoolhouse, as it opens up with her running home from school and Toto getting into Miss Gulch's garden. In the book Dorothy's education is never mentioned, most likely she was home schooled like many country raised farm-children were of her time.
- There are three farmhands who work at the Gale farm in the movie. In the book only Uncle Henry, Aunt Em, and Dorothy reside at the Kansas farm. The farmhands were created for the movie by Noel Langley.
- In the book there is no Miss Gulch or Professor Marvel. Miss Gulch was created for the movie by Noel Langley. Professor Marvel was created for the movie by Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf.
- Dorothy never runs away from home in the book.
- The first Witch to greet Dorothy in Oz is indeed the Good Witch of the North, yet her name is not Glinda but Locasta or in some versions Tattypoo and she is an old wrinkle woman in all white with a pointed hat. Glinda does not make an appearance until the end of the story in the book.
- In the book, Good Witches in Oz are said to only wear all white. Also, it is stated that when Glinda is brought into the plot of the story in the end, she is wearing a long silk dress of pure white, not a glittering ball gown of light pink like in the movie. And she is said to be very beautiful and young looking despite being thousands of years old. Glinda was not middle aged looking as Billie Burke was either.
- The Munchkins only wear the color blue in the book. As the Winkie people of the West wear only yellow, the Gillikins of the North only wear purple and the Quadlings of the South wear only red. And the people of the Emerald City, which is in the exact center of Oz only wear all green. Also, in Munchkinland, there is no Lollipop Guild or Lullaby League.
- The magical shoes that Dorothy wears are ruby slippers with bows in the movie. But were originally silver shoes with pointed toes in the book.
- The Wicked Witch of the West does not make an appearance until the middle of the book.
- In the book, Dorothy's farmhouse does not land right in front of the Yellow Brick Road. Dorothy has to find it, but it doesn't take her too long.
- In the story, the land of Oz is a very vast and large place, it takes weeks for Dorothy and her friends to reach the Emerald City. Dorothy's overall stay in Oz was for a few months. Not a day or two like it was portrayed in the movie. This is verified in the book, when Dorothy returns home again and back to Kansas, Uncle Henry has built a new farmhouse since the Tornado carried off the old one to Oz. (This always verifies that Dorothy's trip to Oz was real)
- In the book, Dorothy and Toto attend a great feast and banquet held by a rich Munchkin man named Boq in her honor for killing the Wicked Witch of the East. She also spends her first night in Oz at his rich Munchkin house, and even has a hardy breakfast with Boq's family at the dinning table before continuing her journey to see Oz.
- In the book, there are indeed Fighting Trees, but they do not talk or have apples on the branches. They are planted there at the boarders to keep trespassers out of Quadling Country.
- In the book, the Tin Woodman used to be a real man of flesh and blood who has a tragic backstory involving his true love. But it is not mentioned in the movie.
- In the book Kalidah beast chase after Dorothy and her friends. Kalidahs are a rare type of animal in Oz with heads of tigers and bodies of bears who kill for meat to eat. In the movie, Dorothy and her companions only mention "lions and tigers and bears, oh my!"
- The Scarecrow gets stuck in the middle of a raging river when the travelers make a raft to cross it. The Scarecrow is then rescued by a female stork bird in the book.
- In the book, when the travelers are within the Poppy Field, the Queen of the Field Mice and her mouse subjects help the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman rescue a sleeping Dorothy, Toto and the Lion after the Tinman saves the life of the Mouse Queen from a wildcat who tried to eat her.
- In the Book, when Dorothy and her friends enter the Emerald City, they are forced to wear green tinted spectacles by the Guardian of the Gates before being allowed in so the brilliance of the emeralds do not blind them. Also, unlike the movie, there is no horse of a different color in the Emerald City.
- Dorothy is given a pretty green dress of embroidered silk to wear before meeting the Wizard by a servant girl named Jellia Jamb in the book.
- In the book, the Wizard is a shape shifter. When Dorothy and her friends meet the Wizard, they all meet him one by one and to each he appears in a completely different form. In the movie he only appears as a great giant head to Dorothy and her friends, who are given an audience all at once.
- In the book, the Wicked Witch of the West is never mentioned to have green skin as it was portrayed in the movie. Nor does she wear all black, or fly on a broomstick in the sky. She has a umbrella she beats her slaves with though. And the Witch only has one eye and wears an eye patch on the other. Her working eye is as powerful as a telescope and can see all parts of the land of Oz no matter how far off it is.
- The Wicked Witch's castle is actually quiet lovely inside. Everything is the color of yellow and the rooms within her home are said to be beautiful. Dorothy is ordered to clean all these beautiful rooms daily during the time of her captivity. The Witch's home in the book was not a black castle with a dark medieval look as it was portrayed in the movie.
- In the book, the Wicked Witch also sends killer Wolves, Crows, Bees and Winkie Guards to kill Dorothy and her friends who are trespassing in her land. Luckily Dorothy and her companions defeated all four attacks.
- In the book, the Wicked Witch of the West owns an enchanted Golden Cap that once belonged to a Gillikin Queen named Gayelette who lived in a jeweled palace in the northern qaudrant of Oz. Gayellete was also a powerful sorceress. The cap itself held a very powerful charm, which allows the owner to order the Winged Monkeys to obey any command three times as they are slaves to the cap. The cap is never mentioned or used in the film but it is seen in the Witches green hands while she is in her castle.
- In the book the Witch also enslaved the Cowardly Lion and made him wear a harness to pull the Wicked Witches Chariot around.
- In the book, the Wicked Witch tries to steal one of Dorothy's Silver Shoes by placing a invisible bar on the floor where Dorothy was cleaning. Dorothy tripped over the bar, not knowing it was there and one of her Silver Shoes fell off when she hit the ground. This is what triggers Dorothy to retaliate and throw a bucket of water on the Witch. Not to put out a fire but to wet the Witch in anger.
- After being left behind by the Wizard in his Balloon, unlike the movie, Dorothy must travel to see Glinda instead of Glinda coming to her. This leads Dorothy and her friends on yet another long set of epic adventures as they encounter the fighting trees, Hammer-Heads a giant killer spider and the Dainty China Country.
- Glinda the Good is the ruler of the South, not the North like in the movie and she does not travel in a magical bubble. Also in the book it is said that Glinda lives in a red ruby castle in the South and sits on a throne of rubies. Her soldiers of the castle and court are entirely all female that are all around the same age of Dorothy, who is no older than twelve.
- In the very end of the book, when Dorothy clicks her heels together three times saying "Take me home to Aunt Em!", on her flight back to Kansas the Silver Shoes fall off of her feet and into the Deadly Desert and are lost forever in the sand. In the movie, Dorothy says "There's no place like home" when she clicked her heels together three times.
- When Dorothy is sent back home again, she does not wake up in her bed like in the movie, but in the prairie field right in front of the farm and shoeless.
It was revealed in the RSC's musical production that Miss Almira Gulch was injured by a telegraph pole during the twister and her leg was in plaster.
- Judy Garland: Dorothy Gale
- Frank Morgan: Professor Marvel, The Doorman, Cabby, Guard, and the Wizard of Oz
- Ray Bolger: Hunk, Scarecrow
- Bert Lahr: Zeke, Cowardly Lion
- Jack Haley: Hickory, Tin Woodman
- Billie Burke: Glinda the Good Witch of the North
- Margaret Hamilton: Miss Almira Gulch, Angela the Wicked Witch of the West
- Charley Grapewin: Uncle Henry
- Clara Blandick: Auntie Em
- Terry: Toto
- The Singer Midgets: Munchkins
- Munchkin mayor: Charley Becker
- Munchkin coroner: Meinhardt Raabe
- Lollipop Guild: Jackie Gerlich, Jerry Maren, Harry Doll
- Lullaby League: Nita Krebs, Olga Nardone, Yvonne Moray
- Pat Walshe: Nikko
- Mitchell Lewis: Captain of the Winkie guards
- Candy Candido: Angry Apple Tree
- Art directors: Cedric Gibbons, William A. Horning
- Associate art director: Jack Martin Smith
- Assistant conductor: George Stoll
- Assistant directors: Al Shenberg, Wallace Worsley
- Choreographer: Bobby Connolly
- Assistant choreographers: Arthur "Cowboy" Appell, Dona Massin
- Color direction: Natalie Kalmus, Henri Jaffa
- Costume design: Gilbert Adrian
- Directors of photography: Harold Rosson (color), Allan Darby (black and white)
- Makeup: Jack Dawn
- Recording director: Douglas Shearer
- Set decoration: Edwin B. Willis
- Special effects: A. Arnold "Buddy" Gillespie
- Vocal arrangements: Ken Darby, Roger Edens
- Orchestral arrangements: George Bassman, Murray Cutter, Paul Marquardt
See also: LeRoy's List.
The makers of The Wizard of Oz were strongly influenced by the success of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), which showed that a fantasy film could attract an enthusiastic adult audience — a trick that earlier Oz films, including those made by Baum's Oz Film Manufacturing Company, had failed to master. Many of the changes made in Baum's original story were designed to recreate the success of Disney's movie; some of these, like a beautiful Wicked Witch of the West (to be played by Gale Sondergaard), did not survive into the finished film.
As a negative example, the filmmakers could look to the 1933 Paramount version of Alice in Wonderland, a notorious critical and popular flop. The film had boasted a distinguished cast of stars and character actors, including Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, W.C. Fields, Edna May Oliver, Charlie Ruggles, Sterling Holloway, and Edward Everett Horton — who were generally unrecognizable under their heavy makeup. For The Wizard of Oz, care was taken so that the actors in heavy costume and makeup remained recognizable.
(Fantasy was a tough genre for Hollywood. A year after the Oz film, an adaptation of Maeterlinck's The Blue Bird that starred Shirley Temple would prove another notable flop, and ended Temple's career as a successful child actress and America's leading sweetheart.
Making the film
Mervyn LeRoy produced the film, with Arthur Freed as assistant producer. Its genesis was complex, employing multiple directors and screenwriters. Fleming had the director's credit, though George Cukor, Norman Taurog, Richard Thorpe, and King Vidor also worked on the project. An early plan to have Busby Berkeley direct the musical numbers never panned out.
Noel Langley is credited with adapting the original book, and Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf are credited as the authors of the screenplay — though more than a dozen individuals, including Herman Mankiewicz, were involved in various ways. The multiple versions of the film's script have been preserved; they make a stack five feet thick.
Jack Dawn designed the makeup for the characters. Makeup man Jack Young had the daily job of turning Margaret Hamilton into the Wicked Witch, while Charles Schram was responsible for the Cowardly Lion. By August 1938, the studio had set up a special annex where personnel drafted from the mail room and messenger service were trained in makeup; some of these people remained in the craft afterward. Still, so many actors and extras needed makeup in some scenes that the studio issued an open call to the local craft unions for free-lance hairdressers and makeup men.
Special effects for the movie were created by Buddy Gillespie and filmed by Max Fabian. Warren Newcombe created shots involving matte paintings for backgrounds, using techniques he originated. Sixty-five sets were used; the most complex was the Munchkinland set. As many as 150 painters may have worked on the film. Four separate horses were tinted for the Horse of a Different Color sequence.
Betty Danko, Hamilton's stunt double, was badly injured in an accident on the set; Hamilton suffered burns in another incident. Two of the flying monkeys were hospitalized after falling from the wires that made them "fly." Ray Bolger wore a suit protected with asbestos for the scene in which the Witch sets the Scarecrow on fire. Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as the Tin Woodman, but endured a severe allergic reaction to the aluminum makeup the character wore; he had to be replaced by Jack Haley.
The film was edited by Fleming and Blanche Sewell; Fleming worked in the editing room in the evening, after directing Gone With the Wind during the day.
MGM studio records placed the cost of making the movie at $2,769,230.30 (in 1939 dollars) — half a million dollars over its budget. Production occurred between 12 October 1938 and 16 March 1939. (The movie had originally been scheduled to begin filming in the Spring of 1938 and to be completed by the end of that year; but delays in virtually every aspect of the production rendered that original schedule moot. See: Timeline.) Test screenings began in June; final editing was completed by 5 July, and the musical score finished on 9 July. The movie premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on 15 August 1939.
The film won two Academy Awards in 1940: in addition to Harburg and Arlen's award for Best Song, Herbert Stothart won the award for Best Original Score. The movie was nominated in four other categories too, losing the Best Picture Oscar to Gone With the Wind. (Judy Garland received a miniature Oscar for the best performance by a juvenile.)
The film earned $3,017,00 for MGM during its initial exhibition. This, however, was not enough to equal the production costs plus the million dollars spent on distribution and advertising. The film did not make a profit until it was re-released, ten years after its original showing; in 1949 it earned another $1,500,000 at the box office.
The first television broadcast of the film took place on 3 November 1956 on the CBS network; the audience of this initial broadcast has been calculated at over 44,000,000 viewers. A second TV broadcast of the film in 1959 (at an earlier hour) won an even larger audience. Annual broadcasts of the film followed through the ensuing decades, leading to the film's reputation as a classic.
By 1983, the movie had earned somewhat under $6,000,000 at the box office, and $13,000,000 from television broadcast rights. Ted Turner bought the MGM film library, including The Wizard of Oz, in 1985; by 1988, worldwide television sales had increased to $34,500,000, plus $16,700,000 from the sales of 850,000 video cassettes.
The film has been restored using new technology more than once, including a major effort for a 1998 theatrical re-release and the 2009 release of the film on Blu-ray Disc.
- Wizard of Oz Collector Plates
- Toys and Collectibles
- The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary 2-Disc Special Edition DVD.
- 75th Anniversary Edition Boxset.
Billie Burke played a beautiful witch, at the age of 55; Margaret Hamilton played an ugly witch, at the age of 36. Hamilton found it unpleasant to eat while in costume: her green makeup got onto her food.
During the Tin Woodman's solo dance, a puff of "steam" is emitted from his funnel hat. MGM technicians simulated the steam with a puff of talcum powder.
For the poppy-field scene, stagehands planted 40,000 artificial flowers into the floor of the set on Stage 29 at the MGM studio.
More than 300 extras were used for the Emerald City scenes.
Despite the remarkable aspects of the production, the MGM publicity department perpetrated wild exaggerations of the relevant facts. MGM publicity director Howard Strickling released a 32-page memo that claimed that 9200 actors "faced the camera" in the film, that 3200 costumes were created, and 6200 personnel "on all branches of production" worked on the project. His numbers were nonsense (yielding one costume for every three actors, for example). In fact, about 500 performers appeared in the film, and a thousand costumes were created. MGM had fewer than 4000 employees in total in the late 1930s, and not all of them worked on The Wizard of Oz.
- The film airs once a year on TBS in the United States. The most recent airing was on Thanksgiving 2018.
- The Yellow Brick Road was actually wood painted yellow.
- The Cowardly Lion's costume was actually made from real lion fur.
- At one point MGM's Leo the Lion was considered for the role of the Cowardly Lion
- Margaret Hamilton suffered severe burns from pyrotechnics on set. She returned on the condition that she wouldn't have to do any more scenes with explosions. A stunt double was used for them.
- There is a rumor that one of the Munchkin actors committed suicide on the set. He is referred to as The Hanging Munchkin by fans.
- The Scarecrow's hat, the original film script, and one pair of Dorothy's ruby slippers are preserved in the vaults of the Smithsonian.
- This was one of the first films to be produced in Technicolor.
References in other productions
The dub of the Digimon anime makes a great deal of references to The Wizard of Oz. These include:
- Myotismon tells Kari "I've got you my pretty and your little cat too." The Wicked Witch of the West once says to Dorothy "I'll get you my pretty and your little dog too!"
- When LadyDevimon is destroyed by Angewomon, she says "I'm melting!" like the Wicked Witch of the West does.
- In the next episode after that, Sora says "There's no place like home. There's no place like home."
- Piedmon mentions flying monkeys, referring to the Vilemon, his servants.
- An episode in Season 2 is entitled "If I Only Had A Heart".
Other programs that have parodied The Wizard of Oz in an episode include:
- Earthworm Jim - "The Wizard of Ooze"
- VeggieTales - "The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's"
- Futurama - "Anthology of Interest II"
- Phineas and Ferb - "Wizard of Odd"
- Rugrats - "No Place Like Home"
- The Fresh Beat Band - "The Wizard of Song"
- The Suite Life On Deck - "Twister: Part 2"
- Mickey Mouse Clubhouse - "Minnie's The Wizard of Dizz"
- That's So Raven - "Soup to Nuts"
- Victorious - "April Fools Blank"
- Hugh Fordin. M-G-M's Greatest Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit. Cambridge, MA, Da Capo Press, 1996.
- John Fricke, Jay Scarfone, and William Stillman. The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History. Warner Books, 1989.
- Aljean Harmetz. The Making of the Wizard of Oz: Movie Magic and Studio Power in the Prime of MGM and the Miracle of Production #1060. New York, Knopf, 1977.
- Paul Nathanson. Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America. Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 1991.
- Jay Scarfone and William Stillman. The Wizardry of Oz: The Artistry and Magic of the 1939 M-G-M Classic. New York, Random House, 1999.