When I found out that The Wizard of Oz would be coming out in 3-D to celebrate its 75th anniversary and that it would be shown in IMAX theaters for only 1 week, I went ballistic. I mean, I was frantic to get tickets. It was Friday already, which meant it was opening day and probably the only day that I would be able to attend.
But would I be able to score tickets? I was certain it would be sold out if I waited and just showed up without tickets. Surely there would be throngs of other Oz afficionados waiting in line. Why, they would probably even be dressed up as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, or the Wicked Witch. They might even bring their own Munchkins along with them, explaining how when growing up they had to watch this yearly tradition on a little black and white television.
“She fell from the sky, she fell very far …and Kansas, she says, is the name of the star …”
Alas, my companion and I were able to get in without a hitch: there were only two other people in attendance! And this was at 4:30 on opening day. I was so disappointed. If there were any wild fans out and about, they were only there to see Vin Diesel in Riddick.
But the classic movie itself did not disappoint. As soon as Leo the MGM Lion announced himself, I knew I was back and that this year the trip to Oz would be spectacular.
Having recently read the book Judy, by Gerold Frank, I was able to revisit some of the things I had heard and read over the years about the child actress Judy Garland and the making of the film that would make her a star.
Some interesting tidbits: according to Judy, her ever-present companion in the film, Toto the terrier, had horrible breath. All I could think about when I saw the film in IMAX 3-D was what a wonderful little actor Toto was and how he never seemed to miss any of his marks! I’d like to see a cat manage those stunts—don’t get me wrong, I’m a cat lover with three of my own—but there’s just no way.
Many people have heard about the fact that Shirley Temple was the first pick for the role of Dorothy. According to Hollywood’s First Choices by Jeff Burkhart & Bruce Stuart, not only was Judy Garland not the first choice for Dorothy, the Tin Man was originally played by Buddy Ebsen. Unfortunately, though, he had an extreme allergic reaction to the makeup and landed in the hospital. Jack Haley ended up with the role. W.C. Fields was first pick for the Wizard, but he turned it down and it eventually went to the delightful Frank Morgan.
Now, about the urban legend that a munchkin can be seen hanging in the background of a scene: I never heard about this until the age of the VCR and people’s ability to stop, rewind, play and slow-mo through movies. True, when I checked it out and researched it online, the scene did appear to have a silhouette of a person hanging in the far background. I can see where the rumor started!
But, according to snopes.com, the legend is not true—no desperate munchkin took their own life on the set of the film! The shadow was actually that of one of the many birds loaned to the film by the L.A. Zoo, most probably a crane spreading its wings. But I do believe the rumor is a testament to how scared some of us tots were with parts of this film! The Wicked Witch had me and the Tin Man and plenty of children all over the world just shivering and clattering.
“Kansas, she said, was the name of the star …”