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10 Things You Never Noticed About The Wizard of Oz

Posted: 12/01/2013 1:23 pm

Nearly everyone loves The Wizard of Oz, and most of us have seen it enough times to quote certain lines verbatim ("I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!") or break into an a cappella version of 'We're Off to See the Wizard" at a moment's notice. Since Oz is about to celebrate its 75th anniversary next year, here's a fun peek at a few details that may have escaped the attention of even the most ardent Ozophiles.

1. Dorothy's Cruller. Just before singing "Over the Rainbow," Dorothy takes one of the "just fried" crullers Aunt Em offers the farmhands. She takes a small bite, tosses a piece to Toto and from there it seems to vanish. But watch closely, she's still holding it as she begins to sing and at the beginning of the second verse, she tosses the remainder into the barnyard (hopefully Toto saw it!).

2. Miss Gulch's Umbrella. As Miss Gulch pulls up to the Gale farmhouse, you can see an umbrella strapped to the front of her bicycle. This is an "insider" allusion to the water allergy of her Ozian alter ego, the Wicked Witch of the West. In the original L. Frank Baum book, the Witch carries an umbrella, not a broom.

3. Dorothy's Dresses. Here's a question sure to stump family and friends: How many dresses is Dorothy seen wearing? The answer is two, not one. When Dorothy meets Professor Marvel, he glances at a portrait of Dorothy and Aunt Em in their Sunday best -- both are wearing wardrobe only seen for this brief moment. (Look closely: the professor never returns the photo either!)

4. The Coroner's Death Certificate. When the Munchkin coroner pronounces the Wicked Witch of the East "really most sincerely dead," he displays the official death certificate which is dated May 6, 1938 -- exactly 19 years after L. Frank Baum, author of the original Wizard of Oz book, passed away.

5. Toto's Deleted Dance? When dance director Bobby Connolly was interviewed in 1939, he discussed the challenges of teaching the Munchkins how to dance in unison but he also mentioned that Toto's trainer was tone deaf, so Connolly had to give the trainer the music cue a couple beats ahead so the trainer could translate the signal to the dog. When "Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead" is reprised, Toto trips down the steps of the city hall and falls in line behind the Munchkin soldiers with no further explanation -- was this the "Toto Trot" to which Connolly was referring?

6. The Wooden Sawhorse. Another reference to the Oz book series may be the inclusion of a wooden sawhorse in the background of the Tin Man scenes. In Baum's The Land of Oz book, a similar sawhorse is brought magically to life and becomes a permanent resident of the Emerald City thereafter.

7. The Munchkin Suicide. The Wizard of Oz was never envisioned to play on a screen as small as a TV set, so confusion has arisen about the unusual motion in the background as Dorothy skips away with the Scarecrow and Tin Man. One silly urban legend says it is a Munchkin suicide-hanging caught on film. In actuality, the movement is that of a large stork reacting to the dancing by rising up and unfolding its wings defensively.

8. Dorothy's Giggles. When filming the scene where Dorothy slaps the Cowardly Lion, Judy Garland kept flubbing each take for laughing at Bert Lahr's ridiculous blubbering. Even in the final-version scene, she is composed until the Lion reaches for his airborne tail -- and misses -- at which Judy breaks character and cracks a small smile!

9. The Witch's Hourglass. Remember when time ran out and the Witch shattered her hourglass in a rage? The sand was made of pulverized red sequins (like those on the Ruby Slippers) to give it that Technicolor sparkle. And the hourglass the Witch throws had holes drilled into it so it could glide the length of a wire and hit the same mark for each take.

10. Dorothy's Time Warp. It seems as though The Wizard of Oz all takes place in the span of one day. Indeed at the conclusion, Dorothy's family and friends are all wearing the same clothes they had on at the beginning. But in the parallel universe of Oz, time functions differently. Listen carefully and you'll hear Dorothy say she tried to get home "for days and days."

For more Wizard of Oz fun facts and fascinating trivia, check out the new book The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion.

 
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