The wizard of oz

August 13, 2010

Did you grow up watching this movie?  I know we did, every year as kids we would sit glued to the television over my aunts watching! So I was captured by this list celebrating The wizards 71st year!

Here are 71 facts for the films 71st birthday!


1) So frightening was Margaret Hamilton's performance as the Wicked Witch of the West that most of her scenes were heavily edited or cut entirely.

  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Production year: 1939
  3. Countries: UK, USA
  4. Cert (UK): U
  5. Runtime: 102 mins
  6. Directors: Victor Fleming
  7. Cast: Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Jack Haley, Judy Garland, Ray Bolger
  8. More on this film

2) When the script was written, the part of the Wizard had been earmarked for WC Fields.

3) Judy Garland's white dress was actually pink as it was easier to shoot in Technicolor.

4) A sequel using the original cast was mooted, but scrapped after Garland became such a big star and Hamilton expressed doubts over the feasibility of such a project.

5) The film has numerous lines in Premiere magazine's poll to find the 100 Greatest Movie Lines. "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" came in at No 24.

6) "There's no place like home" came in at No 11.

7) "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" was at No 62.

8) "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!" was No 99.

9) The same magazine named it one of the 20 most overrated movies of all time.

10) Judy Garland's childlike physique was achieved with the help of a corset.

11) Several actors playing Winged Monkeys were injured when the piano wires holding them up snapped during a shoot on the haunted forest scene.

12) An unused screenplay was written by Ogden Nash.

13) Reports suggest each Munchkin earned $50 per week, while Toto bagged $125 per week.

14) Jell-O crystals were stuck over all the horses in the Emerald City palace to lend them their colour. The scenes were shot speedily, before the horses began to lick them off.

15) The running time is 101 minutes, but the original cut was 112 minutes – only audiences at test screenings have seen the additional 11 minutes.

16) MGM toned down the gore in L Frank Baum's novel, which involves scenes showing "Kalidahs" (tiger-bear hybrids) being dashed to pieces in a crevasse, the Tin Woodman using his axe to decapitate a wildcat and 40 wolves, and bumblebees stinging themselves to death against the Scarecrow.

17) The production costs came in at $2,777,000 – a vast sum for the time. On initial release, the film only earned $3m.

18) MGM head Louis B Mayer had the idea of changing the colour of the slippers from silver to ruby.

19) The song Over the Rainbow came in at No 1 on the American Film Institute's 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Songs in American Films.

20) The film is rated No 1 on the AFI's 2008 list of the 10 greatest fantasy films.

21) In their 2007 list, the AFI ranked it as the 10th greatest film of all time.

22) So scary were the costumes worn by Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley that they had to eat meals in their dressing rooms, lest they alarm other diners in the MGM cafeteria.

23) Bert Lahr's costume weighed 90 pounds

24) In 1989, a pair of real ruby slippers were made to mark the 50th anniversary. These are valued at $3m.

25) Louis B Mayer's trigger for getting the film into production was to trump the critical and commercial success of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).

26) Five different directors and 14 writers were involved in various stages of pre-production.

27) Judy Garland won an Oscar Juvenile Award in 1939 for her role; a gong she would later refer to as the Munchkin award.

28) L Frank Baum received $75,000 for the rights to his book.

29) Standard industrial paint, bought from a hardware store several blocks away from the studio, was used to coat the bricks on the Yellow Brick Road.

30) The oft-quoted line "Fly my pretties, fly" is a falsely remembered bit of dialogue – it's actually "Fly, Fly, Fly."

31) The fire that engulfs the Witch's hands as she's trying to remove the ruby slippers is actually apple juice spewing out of the shoes – the film was then sped up to make it look more like fire.

32) The uniforms of the Flying Monkeys match those worn by the Witch's castle guards (or Winkies).

33) A recycled bit of score from the film Marie Antoinette (1938) can be heard during the castle escape film – the music for both films was composed by Herbert Stothart.

34) To show Dorothy's house falling from the sky, a miniature house was dropped onto a sky painting on the stage floor, then the film reversed to make it appear the film was falling towards the camera.

35) Jack Haley's Tin Woodsman costume was so stiff that he had to lean against a board if he wanted a rest.

36) The film is meant to be one of the most watched in the western world, partly because of its heavy presence on TV schedules.

37) The head winged monkey is called Nikko – also the name of the Japanese town home to the shrine featuring the Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil monkeys.

38) In 2007, the Munchkins were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Seven of them attended the ceremony: Mickey Carroll, Ruth L Robinson, Margaret Pellegrini, Meinhardt Raabe, Karl "Karchy" Kosiczky and August Clarence Swenson.

39) Baum thought up the name for Oz when looking at his filing cabinets, organised A-N and O-Z.

40) Jack Haley regularly claimed that making the film was far from enjoyable. "Like Hell, it was; it was work!", he was say.

41) Judy Garland couldn't stop giggling while filming the scene in which Dorothy slaps the Cowardly Lion. So the director, Victor Fleming, took her aside and slapped her. She returned to the set and filmed the scene in one take.

42) The line "What makes the dawn come up like thunder?" in the Cowardly Lion's speech about courage is a reference to a line in Rudyard Kipling's Mandalay: "An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!"

43) The tornado was a 35-foot-long muslin stocking, spun around among miniatures of a Kansas farm and fields in a dusty atmosphere.

44) Lux Radio Theater broadcast a 60-minute CBS Radio adaptation of the movie on Christmas Day 1950 with Judy Garland reprising her film role as Dorothy.

45) In 1985 Disney made a sequel to Wizard of Oz named Return to Oz. It has since become a cult classic.

46) The musical Wicked is based on Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life andTimes of the Wicked Witch of the West. It's essentially a back story to The Wizard of Oz, and shows the Wicked Witch of the West is a positive light.

47) The stage version of The Wizard of Oz returns to London's West End in February 2011. The role of Dorothy was decided by BBC talent show Over the Rainbow, which aired in spring 2010.

48) Four sets of slippers were used in the film, one pair of which was stolen from a museum in Minnesota in 2005. They were insured for $1m.

49) The film won two Oscars for best original score and best original song, and was nominated for best art direction, best cinematography and best effects.

50) A Cairn terrier called Terry played the role of the dog Toto.

51) Spotlights and shadows from camera equipment are visible on the grass as Dorothy and the Scarecrow dance off singing "We're off to see the Wizard".

52) Hamilton was hospitalized with severe burns after a botched explosion in a take of the moment in which she disappears into a cloud of smoke.

53) In the final version of this scene Hamilton is clearly visible making her exit through a trap door.

54) In the original novel, the gift given to the Tin Man is not a heart clock but a stuffed satin heart put into the Woodsman's chest and then patched over with tin.

55) When George Cukor started as the director, Garland wore a blond wig and heavy, "baby-doll" makeup. Cukor changed Judy Garland's and Margaret Hamilton's makeup and costumes and instructed Garland to act more naturally, necessitating wholescale reshoots.

56) Most actors on the five-month shoot worked six days a week and had to arrive at the studio at four and five in the morning to be fitted with makeup and costumes. They would then work till seven or eight at night.

57) The early Technicolor process required a huge amount of lighting, which would often heat the set to over 100 degrees.

58) Jack Haley's aluminum paste makeup gave the actor a severe eye infection.

59) Margaret Hamilton's makeup could not be ingested, so she lived almost entirely on a liquid diet during filming.

60) A persistent rumor suggested one of the Munchkins can be seen having committed suicide by hanging himself in the background of one scene. But it's been proved false: it was actually a wild crane used in the forest scene.

61) When Margaret Hamilton returned from hospital following her burns accident, she refused to do the scene in which she flies on a broomstick that billows smoke, so the directors brought in stand-in Betty Danko instead. Danko was severely injured doing the scene.

63) The New York premiere at Loew's Capitol Theater on 17 August 1939 was followed by a live performance with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. They would continue to perform there after each screening for a week, extended in Rooney's case for a second week and in Garland's to three.

64) The film was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress, which selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1989.

65) In June 2007, the film was listed on Unesco's Memory of the World Register.

66) Last year the San Francisco Chronicle devoted a film section front page to the film, in which Mick LaSalle declared that the film's "entire sequence, from Dorothy's arrival in Oz to her departure on the yellow brick road, has to be one of the greatest in cinema history — a masterpiece of set design, costuming, choreography, music, lyrics, storytelling and sheer imagination."

67) A prequel to Wizard of Oz is scheduled to be released in 2013. The working title is Oz: The Great and Powerful. It will be directed by Spider-Man's Sam Raimi and is likely to star Robert Downey, Jr.

68) The pairing of the 1973 Pink Floyd music album The Dark Side of the Moon with the visual portion of the film produces moments where the film and the album appear to correspond with each other in a music video-like experience. This juxtaposition has been called Dark Side of the Rainbow.

69) The Observer Music Monthly voted it the greatest film soundtrack of all time.

70) On the Rotten Tomatoes website, 100% of critics give the film positive reviews.

71) The film is at No 10 on the BFI's list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14.


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