Sunday, 25 August 2019

follow the fellow who follows a dream

As with all enduring productions of Old Hollywood, the Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz (there had been previously two earlier adaptations of L Frank Baum’s children’s fantasy, first as a silent film and then as a Canadian animated feature), which was first released nationwide (having debuted in Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood ten days before) on this day in 1939, there has been exhaustive studies made of the Technicolor fantasy musical but it’s nonetheless worth reflecting on a cultural icon and the fullness of its lore and legacy. I’ll admit that I didn’t quite get the Kansas scenes probably quite as well as I ought to have at first—I think not quite making that connection that most of the characters, including the farm hands also appeared in Oz but that it was quite revelatory once I did realise it. I did not know, however, that Dorothy’s touching line to Scarecrow—“I think I’ll miss you most of all”—was a artefact of a concluding scene that was later cut.
Never filmed unlike the other rejected sequence “The Jitterbug” where Dorothy enters a song competition to convince an otherwise philistine princess that classical music isn’t the only form of expression to appeal to young adult audiences, there was to be a bit of a coda of resolution back in Kansas after the farmstead is rebuilt and they’ve recovered from the tornado damage, the farm hand Hunk (Ray Bolger, also playing the Scarecrow though originally cast as the Tinwoods Man) would take his leave for agricultural college but not before extracting a promise from Dorothy that she would write, implying a budding romance. Good for Hunk (his alter ego already declared the wisest in Oz, and was so all along) for pursuing higher education and not be overly particularly about vo-tech. Perhaps that was too adult and not in keeping with the rest of the story. What are some of your memories or misconceptions about the iconic film? We’d like to hear them.