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JulyDiaz

The Wizard Of Oz

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Close your eyes, tap your heels together three times, and join Paul & Amy as they discuss 1939's The Wizard Of Oz! Discover what makes the land of Oz so satisfyingly tactile, how the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion tormented each other on set, and whether this is the most influential film of all time. Plus: Paul & Amy talk to Walter Krueger, who owns one of the world's biggest collections of Oz memorabilia.

 

What do you think the Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire musical "Swing Time" is about? Call 747-666-5824 with your best guesses! Don't forget to subscribe to Unspooled on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, or your favorite app, and follow us on Twitter @Unspooled.

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Judy Garland getting slapped on set or being called well fed is nothing compared to the worst stuff that happened to her. Sexual abuse, assault, forced to smoke cigarettes (and I think speed) to keep her weight down, girdle to keep her breasts from showing. She was 16.

 

Sorry for bringing down the discussing with the first post but, Paul describing her being slapped then responding with a kiss really made me feel awful. Then describing MGM as awful and kind of skipping over the worst of it.

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Not to make this completely about The Simpsons, but this is my favorite Oz reference...

 

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It's okay, we can make the whole thing about The Simpsons.

 

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1) I love a movie that knows with every fiber of its being that it's a MOVIE. I love the fact that the backdrops of the Emerald City and the witch's castle were so obviously paintings, that everyone's costumes looked very costume-y, and that the whole thing seemed to be stuffed with as much movie-ness as possible (musical numbers, a good-vs.-evil storyline, a sentimental ending).

 

2) I think my lifelong love of horror movies might have begun with The Wizard of Oz, because it is legit TERRIFYING at times. I mainly remember the scene where the witch tells Dorothy that she has only an hourglass worth of time to live, and then her friends desperately axing the door to get her out. Ah, the days when children's movies threatened their main characters with ACTUAL DEATH.

 

(Also agree with previous posters that it's hard to watch the film now without seeing it as yet another example of the horrific abuse inflicted on movie stars, though.)

 

3) "And you, and you...and you were there!" I was trying to think of examples of other movies where the main character essentially dreams a fantasy world that's populated with different versions of people / things from her real life. A few film versions of Alice in Wonderland do this, Labyrinth does it...it's always made those stories just a little creepier for me, because the characters are familiar, but they're not familiar, you're home, but you're not really home...

 

(PS I love Candyland too.)

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I feel like - especially with this viewing - my relationship with Oz is that I respect it more for its impact on popular culture, performances, and technical achievements than I do as a “movie.” I found the pacing confounding at times. I agree with Amy that “King of the Forest” is a fun number, but at the same time, I agree with Paul that it comes at a terrible time in the movie. We’ve been building up to this moment and we’re going to stop and do this kind of self-indulgent, novelty number? Okay...

 

Also, as they mentioned on the show, I found the ending to be a bit confusing - especially in light of my newfound appreciation for the early Kansas scenes. I honestly couldn’t figure out why she wanted to go home so bad. The people in her life treat her like garbage, and unless Elmira Gulch was killed in that twister, she still has to deal with the whole Toto thing.

 

Most of all, I found it odd that the movie ended with the same sepia tone with which it began. It just seemed to imply that nothing had actually changed. All Dorothy has to look forward to is a bleak, colorless existence in which she lives out her life on her Aunt and Uncle’s dirt farm. There’s no hope nor imagination. I honestly started to wonder if this was the intention. Maybe it was trying to say we *shouldn’t* be as insulted as it seems to suggest. We prefer a nostalgic past (that never really existed) to change and a future fraught with risk. We find comfort in empty tokens.

 

Now, had the movie ended at the farm *in color* I might be able to buy it as place of comfort. It would provide a visual metaphor for Dorothy’s journey. In the beginning, everything is dull and brown. She then goes on a Seuessian journey through a Technicolor wonderland at which point she comes to realize that maybe things weren’t so bad after all. Then the movie ends with muted color - it’s a good place to be, but not without its issues.

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In regards to this being an a typical Joseph Campbell "hero's journey" type story they are right that it does tick all the boxes. Yet I wonder if the reason that is it not considered up there like Luke Skywalker is less to do with Dorthy being a woman and more to do with the ending. I'm sure that in reality that does play a part but I think the fact the this is the one of the iconic "it was all a dream" type endings robs it a bit of it as well. A large part of the hero's journey is the return home at the end but with the new found power, knowledge, and growth achieved along the way. Yet, at the end of Wizard of Oz the question of was she really on a journey is brought into question. If it was all just a dream, does that count as a journey? Did she actually gain anything or change as a person? I think this all muddies the water and as a result and that could possibly be why it isn't thought of in the same way.

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Simpsons aside my favourite parody of Wizard of Oz is Fistful of Yen in Kentucky Fried Movie. It is a parody of extraordinary magnitude forged in the traditions of our ancestors. It has my gratitude.

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With all do respect to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, I think my two favorite Wizard of Oz covers have to be the ones by Bob Schneider.

 

 

 

 

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Does anyone else have favorite covers?

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Everyone I know who likes this movie saw it as a child, and has an affection for it based on watching it repeatedly on TV as they grew up. I, however, somehow managed to avoid it my entire childhood, only watching it as a young adult when I read about the possible political allegory. I disliked it to say the least, and didn't understand what all the fuss was about -- even when put into the proper context. So I'm curious if anyone else saw it later in life and didn't care for it. (I never had the interest to go back and view it again, but Paul and Amy are making me feel like I should.)

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So I'm curious if anyone else saw it later in life and didn't care for it.

 

Ah, you’re talking about the “Goonies Conundrum.” ;)

 

I’m kind of the opposite. I saw it as a child. We had the soundtrack. However, as an adult, I find that I can appreciate it on an academic level, but I don’t exactly love it. Appropriately enough, it falls somewhere in between Citizen Kane and Ben-Hur. What works, works really well, but I feel like the whole thing could have tightened up a bit.

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Does anyone else have favorite covers?

 

I don't know about my favorite, but I HAAAAAAATE that ukulele version of "Over the Rainbow" that has somehow taken over as the definitive version of the song in recent years. That guy is over-simplifying everything that's harmonically interesting about the song.

 

Haha, I used to like this version of the song as a kid, but listening to it now, I can't help but wonder why:

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Ah, you’re talking about the “Goonies Conundrum.” ;)

 

Haha, I'd never heard of that theory but I get what you're saying. I might be the odd man out though, because I saw Goonies in the theater (I was 9) and thought it was stupid. Time has only made it much, much worse.

 

If I'm making it sound like I hate everything, it's because I do.

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Ah, you’re talking about the “Goonies Conundrum.” ;)

 

I’m kind of the opposite. I saw it as a child. We had the soundtrack. However, as an adult, I find that I can appreciate it on an academic level, but I don’t exactly love it. Appropriately enough, it falls somewhere in between Citizen Kane and Ben-Hur. What works, works really well, but I feel like the whole thing could have tightened up a bit.

 

I did, of course, see the movie as a kid. But I've generally been very willing to accept that something I liked as a kid was actually crap (for example, almost anything Transformers related). The Wizard of Oz has never fallen apart upon rewatch. Still a great entertainment.

 

The story has some hiccups for me, but the songs are basically unimpeachable, as are the performers. And of course it's beautifully designed. I'm also impressed by how great-looking the effects are for a movie made in 1939.

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Oh hey, I never thought of this until just now, but I saw "The Wiz" before seeing "The Wizard of Oz". And I hated that shit, too!!! :lol:

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What has always bugged me about the Wizard of Oz is that they cut the Tin Man's original story to nothing in the film. The Tin Man is my favorite character in the Wizard of Oz and I remember reading the book and being STUNNED at the origin story Baum gives him.

 

Basically the Tin Man was a woodsman who fell in love with a munchkin girl, but the woman that the girl lived with didn't want to lose her slave help so she struck a deal with the witch and every time the woodsman used his axe it cut off part of his body. Everytime it did a local tinsmith made a new part of the body for him until he was all tin but with no heart.

 

Paul and Amy talk about how dark the movie is but it's NOTHING compared to the darkness the bark has. The Witch threatens to tear Dorothy piece by piece, the tin man and the scarecrow kill wolves and crows that are sent to attack them, it's wild.

 

As for the lack of WoO in the discussion of Campbell, it totally should be, and the book does not end with the "it's all a dream!" sequence. But it seems that any time people bring up Campbell, it is in the context of movies not in storytelling as a whole (also, IIRC, since Amy brought up Return to Oz, it's suggested that it wasn't a dream but maybe it was).

 

On a personal note, I like the Wizard of Oz as a movie, and even more as a book, but as a Kansas native, I H-A-T-E all the "Dorothy/Toto" jokes people make about Kansas.

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LET'S ALL STOP PRETENDING THE GOONIES ISN'T CINEMA AT ITS PUREST!!!!

 

JK. I like Goonies but it's definitely a "see it during childhood or never" movie.

 

With Wizard Of Oz, I don't remember how I felt as a kid but I definitely saw it a bunch. I saw it on tv as an adult and loved it. They were playing it two times in a row and watched the first half hour a second time type loved it. I haven't sat down and watched it with full attention since then but I've liked it as background entertainment. So, idk.

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Sorry for bringing down the discussing with the first post but, Paul describing her being slapped then responding with a kiss really made me feel awful. Then describing MGM as awful and kind of skipping over the worst of it.

Please do a "Debbie Downer" column for every episode of Unspooled, akin to taylor anne's "This Week in Feminism" in the HDTGM forum. It'll save me the work of having to look up all of the horrific abuses that surely occurred on the set of all 100 films.

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One thing that fascinates me about The Wizard of Oz is its prominent place in gay male culture . . . which surely has something to do with Judy Garland and her popularity with that community, but it seems like the stories and the movie itself have also had massive resonance.

 

http://www.epgn.com/news/local/11176-the-wizard-of-oz-in-the-lgbt-community

http://www.gaytimes.co.uk/culture/8905/camp-sites-wizard-oz/

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friend_of_Dorothy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Garland_as_gay_icon

 

I will say the last time I saw it on a big screen I came away thinking, "Wow, this is the gayest children's entertainment ever!" (not in a bad way, I loved noticing the subtext). I will grant that some of this might be because I was literally seeing it at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, but still: The Lion calls himself a "dandy lion." The Scarecrow talks about having a "pole up his . . . back" and that "some people do go both ways." Glenda repeats, "Come out, come out, wherever you are." Dorothy travels with three male companions who show no romantic or sexual interest in her at all. And of course there is the theme song: "Over the Rainbow."

 

Even with this reading, the ending does kind of leave something to be desired, with Dorothy happily returning to her sepia-toned existence. But perhaps this was also just a realistic portrayal of what life was like at the time -- this is a Depression-era movie, after all. Most people weren't living in a fairy tale.

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I wish they weren't doing Swing Time next. There are several better Fred and Ginger movies. Better songs. Better plots. And none of them have Fred in blackface. That AFI list is crap! :D

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I did, of course, see the movie as a kid. But I've generally been very willing to accept that something I liked as a kid was actually crap (for example, almost anything Transformers related). The Wizard of Oz has never fallen apart upon rewatch. Still a great entertainment.

There are a number of movies I saw as a kid that I admit aren't good but can still sit through as though it were good. The number of times I have watched Mannequin is mildly worrying.

 

 

Please do a "Debbie Downer" column for every episode of Unspooled, akin to taylor anne's "This Week in Feminism" in the HDTGM forum. It'll save me the work of having to look up all of the horrific abuses that surely occurred on the set of all 100 films.

I forgot I tagged myself that but I guess I'm living up to it. I'll have to look up some Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire trivia. And if Taylor Anne is reading this, please bring back This Week In Feminism.

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Here are some (admittedly half-formed) thoughts I’ve been having regarding the movie.

 

In the film version of Oz, almost all of the principle characters have an analogous Ozian counterpart. There are only four characters that don’t: Aunt Em, Uncle (I wanna say...) Henry, Dorothy, and Glinda. Now, seeing as they’re more MacGuffins than actual characters, I totally get why Aunt Em and Henry don’t; and I guess you could argue that Dorothy wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) have one because she’s our main character. But what about Glinda? If these characters are all being pulled out of Dorothy’s comatose brain, where does she come from? Then I started to wonder: What if Glinda *is* Dorothy’s analog?

 

What we learn about Ozian analogs is they all appear to be searching for something their real life versions already possess. Hunk (The Scarecrow) is already smart, Zeke (The Cowardly Lion) is already brave, and Hickory (The Tin Man)...likes to eat crullers or some shit.

 

With Glinda, as she first appears, she almost seems like a child’s over-the-top version of what a “Good Witch” might be. She’s beautiful, yes, but more importantly, she embodies power. All of Oz defers to this powerful woman. They respect her. They listen to her. She’s everything pre-Oz Dorothy’s heart desires. No one tells her what to do.

 

Of course, in the denouement, we come to find out that (*gasp*) the things that the characters wanted were in them all along! And a little later, we get this exchange:

 

Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power...

 

Dorothy: ...if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again (self empowerment), l won't look any further than my own backyard (inside myself).

 

So, ultimately, the movie isn’t about getting back to her crappy life with her crappy relatives - and their crappy employees - in her crappy town full of crappy, cold-reading transients and litigious schoolmarms, but about recognizing the power and peace (The Good Witch) that was within the whole time. Which, of course, she’ll probably need in order to deal with all that other horseshit.

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When Dorothy first meets Glinda she can’t believe she’s a witch because she’s so beautiful. Glinda then explains to Dot, “Only bad witches are ugly.” Umm...okay. Here’s the thing with that. Not only is that a terrible message to be sending to kids regarding beauty, but here’s the Wicked Witch of the West...

 

wicked-witch-west.jpg?fit=500%2C500&ssl=1

 

...and here are her Winkie guards (who are, as we come to find out, neither bad nor witches.)

 

300px-Winkies.jpg?resize=640%2C480

 

As you can see, the Wicked Witch looks to be Winkish, and is no better or worse looking than any of her guards.

 

Guuuuuuys, I’m starting to think that Glinda the Good Witch was racist as fuck.

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