The Wizard of Oz was first released in 1939 in a year that some believe to be one of the best years for films at any time. (Gone With The Wind, Wuthering Heights, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Goodbye Mr. Chips, and Dark Victory are some of the 1939 films, among many others.) It has now been shown on television countless times but do you remember the very first time that you saw it?
In the USA, it was televised from 1959 through 1962 on the second Sunday of December. This was delayed in 1963, perhaps due to the country being in mourning for the recent assassination of President Kennedy, and was therefore shown on Jan. 26, 1964. This is the date that I remember seeing it. As we were watching it, I remember my sister whispering to me, "This is where it comes in color", since we had a black and white TV set, she had to let me know that she knew that the film became color at the point where Dorothy opens the door to "Oz". At the end, when Dorothy "wakes up" (I always felt that she did not dream it, but actually went there, and that is how L. Frank Baum wrote the story) my sister also told me, "This is when it goes back to black and white". (How did she know? Who knows? My sister knew everything!) I think it is important to note that the country was very much in mourning after the Kennedy assassination and not only was it winter-time but I remember it being very cold and gray. I have written before that the Beatles arriving in the USA in early February of 1964 was like the world coming in color for me...I find it interesting that their apperance on The Ed Sullivan Show was just a few weeks after the TV showing of The Wizard of Oz.
Now, there will be a "prequel" to this movie called Oz, The Great And Powerful, and will be released in March of 2013. I do so look forward to movies and can be so deeply disappointed (Prometheus is one example, I am afraid that I did not care at all for that movie, and I really, really wanted to like it!) I see that Glinda, will be portrayed by Michelle Williams who I believe to be an excellent actress. I saw her in the movie, My Week With Marilyn, on the plane when we went to England and there is something about seeing a movie on a flight, where the acting must be distilled, and everything falls away except a good performance.
Did you know that Buddy Ebsen was in the part of The Tin Man but had to be replaced by Jack Haley since he had a near fatal reaction to the aluminum dust used to cover his body? Jack Haley sang his own solo songs in the movie, but when they are all together on the Yellow Brick Road, that is Buddy Ebsen's singing voice that you hear (which already had been recorded before he was replaced.) We know this since Jack Haley spoke the word "Wizard" much like an English person would, whereas Buddy Ebsen was from the Midwest like Judy Garland and they would pronounce "Wizard" with a strong "R". (Jack Haley was from Boston, it is called NEW England, you know!) There, you see, I just had to find some English connection, didn't I?
You're out of the woods, You're out of the dark,
You're out of the night, Step into the sun, Step into the light.
Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place,
On the face of the earth and the sky,
Hold onto to your breath,
Hold onto to your heart,
Hold onto to your hope,
March up to the gate and bid it open...open.