Seeing ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at This NH Theater Was a Trip Back in Time
As you might have realized reading my blogs and listening to our show, I'm kind of a pop culture nut (especially for the retro stuff). So on Sunday, I headed to the Regal Cinema in Fox Run for an 80th anniversary showing of "Wizard of Oz" that was re-released in theaters (including select Seacoast cinemas) for a few days to mark the film's release in 1939.
The theaters were absolutely packed, so maybe it was the calm before the Pats game viewing! There was a brief wait to get into the theater, and as I do, starting chatting with folks waiting outside the theater to head in.
I met Bill and Pamela who have lived in NH their entire lives and married 61 years; it was there favorite movie of all time. The same with 6-year-old Grace from Dover whose grandma took her, but she seemed a little pensive on seeing the witch on the big screen!
Watching the film got me thinking about some behind-the-scenes stuff, so I came across these fun facts.
The signature song of the movie "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" was nearly cut altogether, according to Uproxx. An instrumental music cue would have remained, but the sequence where Judy Garland (as Dorothy) sings it on screen with Toto the dog by her side was, at first, determined to be overly dreary and too "slow down" the first quarter of the film. Luckily, it remained.
Speaking of the "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" song, what WAS cut is a powerful reprise from a scene that would have followed Dorothy seeing Auntie Em/The Witch in the magic crystal ball when she is locked in the castle with the hour glass ticking down her doom, according to Fandom.com. Garland cries for home and sings an acapella version of the song, struggling to get thru the lyrics. Again, producers felt it was overly somber for what they viewed as a family film.
Fandom.com also highlights that there is an infamous musical number "The Jitterbug" that was cut for time/pacing that cost MGM big money and 2 weeks of shooting to complete. It's a fun song and elaborate dance number that would likely have come between Dorothy meeting Scarecrow and Tin Man.
In the original book, the slippers Dorothy wears are not ruby at all... but silver! The earliest pre-production determined shiny silver slippers would be less visible on screen whereas the ruby red sparkling and popped on screen, according to The List. However, the original test screening pair looked more like a shoe one of Santa's elves might wear with pointy ball front toes. They were replaced when filming began, USA Today reported that original pair ended up in the hands of actress/movie prop collector Debbie Reynolds hands and sold for over a half million dollars at auction.
Margaret Hamilton reprised the role of the Wicked Witch of the west in a 1976 episode of "Sesame Street" where she and Oscar the Grouch learn a lesson in kindness together, Birth.Movie.Death. stated. The episode presumably exists in the PBS archives as other shows from that season are all intact, but the show has NEVER aired after that initial broadcast as PBS station's found their switch boards lighting up with parents complaining their children had been frightened by the Witch's appearance. While only one production still and promotional notes on the episode are publicly available, according to the article.those involved note Hamilton had of course aged nearly 40 years since her role in the movie and the green make up made her appear much more harsh and potentially frightening to kids.