Top 10... - August 18, 2015

#hmvDecades: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Wizard Of Oz
by Tom
Tom
by Tom hmv London, Bio hmv.com Editor. Peanut butter, punk rock and pillows.

#hmvDecades: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Wizard Of Oz

Movies don’t come much more iconic than The Wizard Of Oz. Released in 1939, the movie cost an eye-watering three million dollars to produce (That’s more like $200 million in today’s money), used a series of groundbreaking techniques and took cinema to a place where audiences couldn’t even imagine. It made a star of lead actress Judy Garland, launching one of the most famous songs in cinematic history in ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ and inspired a generation of movie makers.

Now on offer as part of hmv’s Decades, we thought we’d revisit this classic and present 10 things you didn’t know about The Wizard Of Oz...

 

‘Over The Rainbow’ almost ended up on the cutting room floor…

Can you imagine The Wizard Of Oz without ‘Over The Rainbow’? Well you might have had to. When they saw the first cut of the movie, studio execs suggested axing the song as it made the Kansas sequence of the movie too long. In the end it stayed, but a reprise of the song, which was due to come back much later in the movie, was indeed cut.

 

Judy Garland suffered to look much younger…

Garland was 16 when she filmed The Wizard Of Oz, but was playing the part of 12-year old Dorothy Gulch. As a result filmmakers decided that they had to make the actress’s body look more child-like and instructed Garland to wear a corset to flatten her chest. The corset was so painfully tight at times that it even gave the actress breathing difficulties…

 

But so did Terry the dog…

Terry the dog was chosen to play Dorothy’s faithful friend Toto and looked set to complete the whole film when one of the witch’s guards accidentally trod on him and he had to spend two weeks recovering. On a side note, Garland requested that she would very much like to adopt Terry when filming was complete as they’d bonded during filming, unfortunately Terry’s owners wouldn’t give him up and he went on to star in many of other films and TV shows.

 

Toto earned more than the munchkins…

According to Jerry Maren, the leader of the Munchkins, he and his colleagues were only paid $50 a week for their role in the film. This was in 1938, so that works out at $815 a week in today’s money, not so bad really, but when you consider that Terry the dog took home $125 a week, it does seem a bit mean...

 

And a slap inspired one of her most iconic scenes…

One of the movie’s turning points is the moment when Dorothy confronts the cowardly lion and gives him a slap to shake him up. Filming that moment proved tricky with Garland getting the giggles so badly that they actually had to take a break in shooting. Incensed by the delay, director Victor Fleming took Garland aside, lectured her and then slapped her. Garland then returned to the set and filmed the scene in one take.

Desperately worried that he’d ruined his relationship with the actress forever, Fleming was overheard a day or so later rueing his decision only for Garland to come up and give him a kiss on the nose to show that all was forgiven.

 

Most of Margaret Hamilton’s scenes ended up on the cutting room floor…

The film’s running time is a skinny 101 minutes, but it would have been a lot longer if the filmmakers had left in the majority of the scenes Margaret Hamilton filmed in her role as the Wicked Witch of the West. But, when it came to editing the movie, it was decided that Hamilton’s performance was too scary and so most of her scenes ended up being cut.

 

Filmmakers accidentally burned the witch...

Due to primitive make-up techniques Margaret Hamilton’s green skin was acquired using a copper based make-up, a substance that’s highly flammable. Filming the scene where the Wicked Witch of the West leaves Munchkinland, Hamilton’s cape became caught in the platform and her make-up heated up, causing second- and third-degree burns on her hands and face. She recovered and returned to set, but refused to do any more scenes involving fire…

 

Apple juice looks a lot like fire…

When it came to creating the scene where the Wicked Witch of the West tries to get the ruby slippers off and quickly becomes aflame, filmmakers turned to some unorthodox methods. To make it look like fire was spewing out of her shoes, Margaret Hamilton instead had dark apple juice rushing out, juice that was led made to look like fire when the film was later sped up...

 

The horses were covered in Jell-O…

To make the horses in the Emerald City look green, filmmakers took the unusual step of covering them with green Jell-O crystals. It meant those scenes had to be shot quickly or the horses would start to lick them off…

 

Bert Lahr’s lion costume weighed over 100 pounds…

Lahr’s turn as the cowardly lion is one of the movie’s many highlights, but it took a massive physical toll on him. Made of real lion, it weighed in over at 100 pounds and as if that wasn’t bad enough temperatures were unusually hot as the lighting needed to shoot in early Technicolor kicked out a huge amount of heat. It soared to over 100 degrees most days and left two poor assistants with the job of washing the costume each night. No words can probably do the smell justice…

 

It didn’t fare so well at the Oscars…

Nominated for a full six Oscars, the film only ended up with two, one for the score, the other for ‘Over The Rainbow’. In any other year it would likely have swept the board, but it was up against Gone With The Wind, which won Best Picture as one of its eight awards.

 

The Wizard Of Oz is available in-store and online as part of hmv’s #Decades promotion. Click here to see the full range of titles available.

The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, King Vidor

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