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I am sitting here watching the Wizard of Oz and contemplating the question that was put to the group. As much as I love Shirley Temple,  she would have been a cute Dorothy but the movie would not be the same. I am not minimizing the talents of Shirley,  because anyone that could hang with the likes Bill "Bo Jangles" Robinson is no joke.  Shirley could have tapped  and danced with munchkins and the principal actors, but  this movie would not be the classic that it is today. It would be another movie in the Shirley Temple catalog.  A big part of the Wizard of Oz is Judy Garland's gold standard rendition of "Over the Rainbow", this song is so earnest and heartfelt that it touches anyone who hears it. Sure Shirley could have sang the song but it would have been cutesy and would have never delivered the emotional wallop that we still feel today when we hear Judy Garland. On top of that, not only do we feel for Dorothy, we relate to her.  Judy wasn't first choice, MGM certainly was underestimating the power of Judy Garland.  I'm scratching my head over that. 

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I agree! It's impossible to imagine anyone else doing Dorothy justice. But I wonder what Judy's path would have been like if she hadn't played Dorothy (this may have also been a question in the lecture notes). She was 17 playing a younger girl, hiding her age and her body. Could she have transitioned to "healthier" adult roles sooner if she hadn't played Dorothy? Or would she have faded from memory and not had as long a film career if not for that iconic role? 

So glad to see discussions starting about the questions from the lecture notes. There's a lot to talk about :)

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Good point, the role of Dorothy is definitely iconic and won Judy a junior Oscar right? But at the same time was it healthy for her, given the personal issues that would later emerge in her life? 

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Somehow I can't visualize a Dorothy with dimples.   Was looking up what Dorothy's age was in the Baum books and apparently although he doesn't give a specific age, from triangulating with other character information, it seems Dorothy was supposed to be 11 years old, the age of Temple at the time of the film, and she wasn't supposed to be a teen.  

One other problem with Temple... my mother was about the same age as Temple and I remember her saying the main thing she remembered about Shirley's movies was that her dresses always looked like they came from Saks.   So maybe a Temple Dorothy would have her plaid dress/jumper/pinafore by Adrian,,, oh, wait, he did the costumes for Oz, nevermind.   

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I can't see that either. Dorothy is a down to earth farm girl with a cheerful and naive outlook but a serious side as well. Shirley Temple was too fluffy and cutesie to even pull off the character, let alone the range of emotion and depth of voice needed for Over the Rainbow.

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1 hour ago, starryeyzze said:

I am sitting here watching the Wizard of Oz and contemplating the question that was put to the group. As much as I love Shirley Temple,  she would have been a cute Dorothy but the movie would not be the same. I am not minimizing the talents of Shirley,  because anyone that could hang with the likes Bill "Bo Jangles" Robinson is no joke.  Shirley could have tapped  and danced with munchkins and the principal actors, but  this movie would not be the classic that it is today. It would be another movie in the Shirley Temple catalog.  A big part of the Wizard of Oz is Judy Garland's gold standard rendition of "Over the Rainbow", this song is so earnest and heartfelt that it touches anyone who hears it. Sure Shirley could have sang the song but it would have been cutesy and would have never delivered the emotional wallop that we still feel today when we hear Judy Garland. On top of that, not only do we feel for Dorothy, we relate to her.  Judy wasn't first choice, MGM certainly was underestimating the power of Judy Garland.  I'm scratching my head over that. 

I agreed, tho I love Shirley and she was closer to the age of Dorothy, Judy carried the movie and did a wonderful job with the song!

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I worry that with Shirley Temple in the role, it simply would have become more of a child's movie than one adored by everyone of all ages.  Judy was more mature Dorothy. I'm not convinced the WOOz would have become the classic is has become had Temple taken on the role.  And to be deprived of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' is unthinkable. 

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2 hours ago, starryeyzze said:

I am sitting here watching the Wizard of Oz and contemplating the question that was put to the group. As much as I love Shirley Temple,  she would have been a cute Dorothy but the movie would not be the same. I am not minimizing the talents of Shirley,  because anyone that could hang with the likes Bill "Bo Jangles" Robinson is no joke.  Shirley could have tapped  and danced with munchkins and the principal actors, but  this movie would not be the classic that it is today. It would be another movie in the Shirley Temple catalog.  A big part of the Wizard of Oz is Judy Garland's gold standard rendition of "Over the Rainbow", this song is so earnest and heartfelt that it touches anyone who hears it. Sure Shirley could have sang the song but it would have been cutesy and would have never delivered the emotional wallop that we still feel today when we hear Judy Garland. On top of that, not only do we feel for Dorothy, we relate to her.  Judy wasn't first choice, MGM certainly was underestimating the power of Judy Garland.  I'm scratching my head over that. 

Judy was older. The WWW viewed her as problem. She's smart, spunky and speaks up when necessary (she calls out the Wizard for being a fake). She is a formidable foil for WWW and you want to see her win, defeat her, and emerge as victor. By contrast, Shirley was younger and much more of a cutesy type at the time than Judy Garland ever was a youth/child star. So, the audience would or could feel more of sense to protect our hypothetical Shirley Dorothy and shield her from danger than Judy. We want to see her fight the witch, because we know she has it in her, she just needs to find out for herself. She's older and we know she can be independent (as apparently she was as a loner on the Kansas farm) and doesn't evoke the same need to shield, defend and protect. Someone as young and cute and adorable as Shirley was does. And she didn't evoke the same sense of vulnerability as Judy did. As you said, that vulnerability is vital for a song like "Rainbow"

I also thought of what Judy "was" around this time. She was literally the girl next door in the Andy Hardy films or the best chum but never a romantic prospect. Like in Love Finds Andy Hardy everybody treats her like a child and she resents that deeply (the song "In Between" is heart breaking). There is a pain there and in her performances in those movies that I suspect mirror what was happening to her in real life.

So when I watch her as an actress in TWOO I also think of what her role and screen persona was in other movie she was in around the time and project onto her Dorothy Gale. The pain and vulnerability and longings (womanhood,love,beauty because she's always comparing herself to another girl etc)  her characters have despite her having to play that clean cut, all-American good girl image. Shirley of course was a phenomenon on her own with a very specific reason why she appealed to people. Its because she was  cute and  innocent. Not to mention being an actual little child (Judy's Andy Hardy character is supposed to be 12 when Judy was actually 15,16ish). These are some things that form the "good girl" image but (and maybe because of age) there was nothing of the sort of nuance Judy possessed in these portrayals. 

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That's a wonderful point! I am a long time Shirley Temple enthusiast but I can't imagine what she would have been like as Dorothy, not even if I think about it hard enough. I don't want to minimize anybody's childhood dreams but I definitely don't think it would have had the longevity it did if she were in the starring role.

But like you said, she definitely did hold her own against some of the bigger names at the time. 

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1 hour ago, marcik said:

She was 17 playing a younger girl, hiding her age and her body. Could she have transitioned to "healthier" adult roles sooner if she hadn't played Dorothy? Or would she have faded from memory and not had as long a film career if not for that iconic role? 

Interesting about her transitioning to "Adult" roles early. Her first adult role was in Me and My Gal but was back to playing teenage Esther Smith in Meet Me in St Louis the following year. Anyway, I don't know. I suppose had she not done TWOO MGM would still assign her for double duty of Andy Hardy series and musicals also with Mickey Rooney. That was a double whammy of a profitable and popular formualas so she would probably kept on doing that for a while. Maybe longer than what she did do. Babes in Arms was released that year as well and that was a musical with Mickey Rooney. 

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I totally agree with oftroy59 - it would have been much more of a children's movie if Shirley Temple had played the role.  She was still doing movies like "The Blue Bird" and "The Little Princess" around this time, which were beautiful movies, but she was still very young and actually I think Dorothy needs to be a little older, a little more independent to embark by herself on the journey to Oz (as expressed by Brittany Ashley).  The Shirley Temple of "Since You Went Away" and "I'll Be Seeing You" (one of the most underrated Christmas movies of all!), would be much more how the young woman we have come to think of as Dorothy - innocent but spunky, frightened but brave, and always standing up to the unfair treatment of others. 

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I thought there were some really great points raised about Shirley's youth. The character, as originally envisioned by L. Frank Baum, was about six, and to have that more accurately reflected in the film would have been one way to raise the stakes by having that young a girl forced into this unexplored and wild world. However, Temple's physical age was often counterbalanced by her independent spirit and moxie, and while Garland is physically older, everything in her makes you empathize with her, and her thoughtfulness and sensitivity make her much more believable as a girl on a journey to discovering the strength within. 

I do just want to note that Oz was expressly purchased by MGM because Arthur Freed was on a mission to find a starring vehicle for Garland, and because LB had a deep faith in his eye for talent. It was the New York office that later wanted Temple when the projected costs were sky rocketing and they wanted a guarantee of success in the form of a proven box office star. 

I think an interesting question to pose is, what would have happened if Garland had starred in "Three Smart Girls" rather than Durbin? Universal wanted Garland first, as it was conceived as a jazz musical, and had to retool it when MGM refused to loan her and then dropped Durbin's contract. If Garland had been made a star in 1936 rather than Durbin, how might her career have developed differently? Surely Oz would still have been made, but would MGM have spent so much money fighting Disney for the rights? And would Garland still have been cast if so? 

And what of the scarecrow? Ray Bolger has claimed that he was originally cast as the tin man, with Ebsen in the other role, and he had to beg the powers that be to have the roles switched. If this had happened, would Bolger have even been in the movie at all, seeing how dangerous the aluminum dust proved to be?

 

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Though I love Judy as Dorothy and I LOVE The Wizard of Oz as it is, I think Shirley would have made a good Dorothy but in a much different way. I think she would have given a lot of credence to finding a world over the rainbow in the way of childhood whimsy. 

IT may also have added a mad the parts with the Wicked Witch seem more scary.

I can picture her now singing..." The house began to twitch" with that cute little moue she often used.

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