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The Wizard Of Oz


xxmass
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Whoa. I thought this entire thread WAS just for fun?!

 

I love The Wizard Of Oz, it's one of my favorite movies, if not my very favorite. But when subjected to analysis, in FUN, it doesn't compute. Not many fantasy movies would stand up to scrutiny, have you ever seen You Never Can Tell? I love that movie, but basically a horse becomes a woman and a dog becomes Dick Powell. Absurd? You tell me. But I love it.

 

If you want to dissect a movie, there was one on TCM the other day, The Gay Sisters. I didn't stick around, because it seemed to be going the same route as I Married A Doctor.

 

Apparently Bette Davis married George Brent (I heartily dislike George Brent) and on their marriage night hands him some money and prepares to walk out on him. Why she married him I don't know. At any rate, he says you can leave after....he kisses her and fade to black.

 

We next see Bette and old George arguing over their kid. So, he raped her and now is fighting for custody.

 

AND, you can be sure the ending was going to be one of reconciliation.

 

But, it was a movie of its time.

 

The WOZ was a fantasy movie, a lovely wonderful fantasy movie with gorgeous sets and memorable performances. Perfect casting, unforgettable songs, and it will last forever.

 

Yes, I was just having fun here. Why all the seriousness on this board all of a sudden? Must be the heat.

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Me too, Stoneyburke666:

 

I took it for granted that the comments were tongue-in-cheek until the intense flare ups of some of the comments this morning. I mean, heck, you're talking about a woman who lives in a soap bubble and takling trees for pity's sake! lol!

 

Although I don't think WOZ is a perfect movie, I do think it's a classic movie, and deservedly so.

 

I admit that I'm somewhat serious in my opinion that Metro fashioned a passive, dependent image for Judy Garland and my belief that her role as "Dorothy" conforms to that image, but my comments about OZ itself were made purely in fun.so.

 

That said, I agree with Sue that the continuous re-running of OZ on TCM (and the WB) a couple of times every year can be irksome, but I solve that problem simply by choosing not to watch these broadcasts. If I want to watch the film, my DVD or VHS (yes, I have it in both formats) suits me fine.

 

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Well if tongue-in-cheek means ?whimsical exageration? , ?insincerity? and with ?irony? (M. Webster?s 3rd) then I guess I have no quarrel with your making fun of the movie. But despite what you say about it being all in fun (?woman in a bubble? and ?talking trees, for crying out loud?) it didn?t necessarily always seem so. Go back and read (for fun) your first post on the subject, something about ?creeping? people out because your favorite character was the Wicked Witch of the West. Why the qualifier about creeping people out if this was to be such rollicking fun? Although the premise was supposed to be ?tongue-in cheek? (which even I, a much too serious person it seems, was able to at least suspect in a previous post), there is a distinctly serious tone to many of your remarks, a seriousness that can be provocative. And I don?t think that the single ?lol? that you pointed out as evidence has the strength by itself to cast the entire spiel as consummate tongue-in-cheekness.

 

The only reason I mention this is because my own last post was originally intended to be sarcastic, but humorously so, to suggest the silliness of this kind extraneous analysis, if done seriously. I didn?t come off that way, I know. I betrayed my exasperation at what, I suppose, I took to be a gratuitous, insufferably conceited, smartalecky attack on the movie. But now that I know for sure that you realize that the movie is what it is, a fairly simple fantasy with a lot of screwball elements, and that, of course, you most probably realize (to give one example) it?s tongue-in-cheek indeed to advance an argument defending the Kingdom of Oz as somewhat akin to the real world but needing to put ?the magical dimensions ? aside ?? first. What a relief to know that! It?s all in fun after all.

 

I can?t accuse you of taking me too serously though, since I came off with rashness, but you really meant business with that devastating rebuttal. Very good, I applaud you. I can see I?m no match for you in the long run. Of course, you?re right about Miss Gulch. It?s nonsense that she would forge the document etc., since it?s evident that even if she?s telling the truth she still comes off (fulfilling the movie?s intent) as the mean old lady down the block It?s far more wicked to destroy a little girl?s life by having her dog put down than it is for an ?innocent? hardly vicious dog to chase a cat in someones garden and end up taking a bite (it probably didn?t even hurt) out of someone after having apparently been attacked with a rake. There?s an everyday even innocent quality to the latter whereas what Miss Gulch does is truly mean.

 

I still have trouble, though, with the idea of that the movie is a ?coming of age? story, per se, Ethan Morddan notwithstanding. (I don?t know the article) If it qualifies as such, it seems very thin to me. Stories like this are usually done in a more serious, conventional vein. I think the movie is more about the sweet sentimentality of just getting home.

 

I don?t agree at all that Judy Garland?s talent needs to be ?validated? by a leading man. Comments like this have been made about Katherine Hepburn (for one), whose acting abilities have sometimes been questioned and needs a Spencer Tracy etc., but Judy has so much natural, raw talent that I don?t think it applies to her. Or maybe I just can?t follow you, again. What?s with the preoccupation with ?independence? and ?self suffiency?? No actor can act in a vacuum. You need someone to react to, unless, of course, your doing a one man/woman show, something, by the way, no one can do better than Judy Garland (Hows that for independence and self sufficiency). Or are you talking about screen persona? But what does that have to do with talent? I don?t think that Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, and especially Ricki Lake, can hold a candle to Judy Garland especially based on some notion that they played ?pro-active? women on screen and that Judy Garland, perhaps, did not. And it?s ludicrous to think that she would have gained a more ?appreciative? audience if she had. You seem to be hung up, enamored, whatever? on the notion of strong ?forward-thinking? women and that?s fine but it doesn?t necessarily serve as valid criterion for who needs to be ?validated? by other actors in order to be appreciated. (BTW, I see that Geena Davis has a TV series where she plays the president of the United States. Check you local listings)

 

To end on a lighter vein, (all in fun of course) I would like to suggest the theory that Miss Gulch is actually dead at movie?s end and therefore cannot come back and try to reclaim Toto. Remember the tornado scene just prior to Oz when Dorothy looks out the window and sees a number of things, including Miss Gulch riding her bicycle. Well, she becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, Miss Gulch?s alter ego, in the dream, and when she is doused with water and sees glory, is it a ?leap of faith? to think that maybe the real Miss Gulch is no more as well? We did, after all, see the safe return of the dream counterparts of Dorothy?s three companions and the Wizard, and seeing that are alive and well upon Dorothy?s return to reality, can we assume therefore that Miss Gulch is not. Or am I just grasping at straws? Probably, but it would be nice to win at least one point.

 

Peace

 

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You're absolutely correct, Lux! To analyze this Children's movie from the perspected of a "critical" adult is somewhat silly to begin with, and thoroughly disgusting when all the "hate" stands out above even being fair as a "critic" (IMHO).

 

What is even worse, however, is to post just to be "tongue-in-cheek", or to "have a little fun" (always at the expense of someone else who liked a fantasy like this movie, regardless of remembering it from childhood, or even now as an adult. What's the "sport" in this kind of crud, anyhow?

 

Thanks for your post, Lux! ML

 

 

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I would hardly characterize OZ as a children's movie, the script is way too smart and literate to appeal just to kids. Whenever adults watch the film with kids of their own, or just on their own years later, they always say certain lines went right over their heads as kids, but resonate with them now as adults.

 

In any case, since this film has been around as long as it has, a little analysis of its appeal and its success certainly will not hurt it.

 

In fact I wish I analyzed it as thoroughly as did Gregory Maguire who wrote the best seller Wicked, which has been turned into one of the most popular (and financially successful)Broadway musicals in years. Perhaps some of have seen a touring company or the New York production?

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Lux, I agree with your post! Thank you for having the foresight & courage to post your opinion, when it became

apparent things were tongue -n- cheek and a little too

sarcastic. The wizard of Oz is a great movie no matter how you slice it no piece of the movie has the same interpertation from one person to another!...

But first and foremost can we all say that we love this

movie hum its songs in private Hush! Ido!

Judy's song "Over the rainbow " an untouched classic from

a great talent. Toto we love endlessly, Miss Glutch we put up with phew! Plus we all have our favorite whether

it be the tin man, the cowardly lion, or scarecrow...

If we put this movie in a time capsule to be opened years from now you can bet children will be going

oooze and aaaaaaaaaaaahhh's and beening scared by all

those monkeys all over again just like us. This movie's

longavity makes it an ultra classic in my book."Were off

to see the wizard the wonderful wizard of Oz" This movie

is the Harry Potter movie of our generation and fortunately beyond our generation truly an amazing feat

in cinema. lolite.

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Hi Lux (and Everyone Else):

 

Apologies for getting back to you late on this one, but I've been out of town for a few days. I wouldn't bother to respond to your post at all, but your latest post in particular seems to be predicated on some genuine misconceptions and misrepresentations of my comments on this thread and, in the interest of "clearing the air," I submit the following good-natured "rebuttal":

 

First of all, my apologies if what I viewed as my good-natured analysis of THE WIZARD OF OZ upset, hurt or offended you, or anyone else. I certainly did not intend my comments to have that sort of an emotional response from anyone, including you. Unfortunately, it can often be quite difficult to discern the nature of a commentary on the printed page, but I give you my word, I did not intend any disrespect to THE WIZARD OF OZ, which I also stated in a previous post "is a classic film and deservedly so," in making them, nor do I see anything in them that is, either by language or implication, disrespectful, unkind or hostile toward the film, your opinions or the opinions of anyone else on this forum.

 

As far as your implication that my comments may not have been "tongue-in-cheek," or may have been "tongue-in-cheek" largely in a negative, acerbic and hostile context, I belive that the full Webster's 3rd definition of the phrase, tongue-in-cheek", which you have inadvertently mis-cited is:

 

"characterized by insincerity, irony, OR whimsical exaggeration."

 

In other words, it's not "and with," which would serve to join the first two terms with the third as one definition, but "or": three separate, individual meanings, each intended to convey a distinct and disparate facet of the phrase.

 

To make my intentions clear, I intended my comments concerning the motiations/natures/legal implications inherent in THE WIZARD OF OZ as the latter ("whimsical exaggeration"), and nothing more, and, despite your heartfelt rebuttal, I stand by that appraisal.

 

As I noted in an earlier post, I love the movie myself and certainly can appreciate its' virtues. I own copies of it on both VHS and DVD, and am able to quote passages from memory (I don't think I've watched it for at least five years) pretty much verbatim (e.g., I'm pretty sure I got the lyrics for "We're Off To See The Wizard" correct in response to a good-natured challenge by an earlier commentator on this thread while another poster, though making a valid attempt, did not).

 

As far as my reference to my awareness that my admiration for the Witch of the West may "creep some people out," I see no reason why my open acknowledgement that some people may not view her character in the more admirable/less fearsome light I do should detract from my tongue-in-cheek appraisal of her. Clearly she's intended to be the primary, if not sole, villain of the piece, and my comments were intended to indicate that, if one takes the time to look at the film and her role in it (which lasts a scant 12 minutes of screen time, including the scenes of her "Miss Gulch" incarnation), she wasn't as bad as she's made out to be. I guess I'm missing your point here, but it strikes me as very much in the venue of "tongue-in-cheek" commentary.

 

What I do believe can be treated somewhat seriously are the many plotholes and inconsistencies inherent in the script. In making my comments on the film, I have made a genuinely sincere effort to stick to the script as presented onscreen in the released film without making what I consider the "leaps of faith" reasoning you and some other contributors to this thread have done, such as averring that Miss Gulch was killed in the cyclone (there's no indication, other than the tenuous one of the Witch of the West's demise, in the film that she was), nor that she forged the sheriff's order simply to get her hands on Toto so she could pedal off with him and destroy him herself (as you've noted, there's no indication of this either) and my pointing out the many liabilities Miss Gulch would subject herself to had she done so was simply intended to illustrate the fallacy of such an argument.

 

Your defense of Toto's and Dorothy's actions while on Miss Gulch's property and villification of her for defending it provide a viable illustration of the point I'm trying to make. Because the script almost certainly intends us to empathize with Dorothy and villify Miss Gulch for their respective attitudes toward Toto's behavior on her property, you and others seem to take it for granted that Dorothy is "good" (because she didn't mean any real harm in continually trespassing on Miss Gulch's property) and Miss Gulch is "evil" (because she goes after Toto for doing so and biting her).

 

The film may succeed in doing so emotionally, but the script also spends a good deal of time to indicate that Dorothy was at fault and that Miss Gulch has every reason to feel not only put out, but furious over Toto's behavior.

 

For instance, as the script makes plain, Toto's rummaging through Miss Gulch's garden and/or chasing her cat is not an isolated event, as you indicate it was, but one that occurs with alarming regularity. Dorothy herself acknowledges this when she states that Toto does this "once or twice a week" rather than "every day," and that she (Dorothy) "let him (Toto) go in her (Miss Gulch's) garden." In other words, it's a pattern of behavior that Miss Gulch has had to put up with for some time, so doesn't she have every right to insist that it be stopped, especially as it's undeniable (once again, according to the script) that Toto BIT her?

 

Whether the bite "hurt" or not is immaterial. Aside from the fact that there are indeed "laws protecting folks against dogs that bite," whatever her general demeanor, Miss Gulch certainly can't be accused of encouraging Dorothy and Toto's presence on her property. The script leads us to believe that Miss Gulch has made it clear on prior occasions that she doesn't want them there and Dorothy has ignored her warnings, so Miss Gulch certainly has a right to seek legal redress for their continued unwelcome presence on her land. Hunk is right in his appraisal of Dorothy's situation: if she DIDN'T go by Miss Gulch's place, Toto WOULDN'T get into her garden and she (Dorothy) wouldn't get into any trouble.

 

My apologies for going on at length about this issue, but in doing so I am simply attempting to illustrate, once again, my previous point that while WOZ is a wonderful movie, it is a far from "perfect", and, in many respects, potentially very flawed movie. That doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed, admired or even beloved for what it does right (the musical fantasy, committed performance elements, etc.) but it can be argued that it does not bear close or even casual scrutiny as a well-constructed, well-reasoned storyline.

 

In attempting to create an enchanting musical fantasy (an ambition on which, I think, it does succeed quite admirably overall), it leaves mamy basic and important issues unanswered, including why the Gales don't go to the Sheriff's office to plead Toto's case and Toto's ultimate fate, why, if the "Wicked Witch of the West" is so wicked she doesn't just kill off Dorothy's travelling companions (and, if she could do so, Dorothy) long before she attempts to, etc. or glosses over others, such as why Glinda doesn't tell Dorothy at the beginning that the ruby slippers could take her home.

 

Of course, as adults we can see that, for example, if Glinda had told Dorothy she could get home right away, or the Wicked Witch had eliminated Dorothy and the others as soon as they got beyong the borders of Munchkinland, etc. there would have been no movie, or certainly not much of one, but the manner in which the film attempts to resolve these issues is both piecemeal and "convenient" in my opinion, and doesn't bear close examination.

 

If you re-read my first post to this thread you will note that my initial impetus for participating in it was to raise the fact that Toto's fate is never adequately (or even remotely) addressed in the movie, a fact which upset me very much as a child and still bothers me to this day, and with all due respect to the vehemence with which you and others have asserted that we're intended to believe that Miss Gulch was killed in the cyclone and all's right with the world, I (good-naturedly) challenge you or anyone else to cite a point in the film where the script resolves this issue in any definitive maner.

 

On the issue you raise of its' being implied that Miss Gulch is deceased because her Oz counterpart, the Witch of the West is, I submit to you that, since the script fails to address this issue in any conclusory manner, isn't it just as reasonable, if not more so, to conclude that Miss Gulch is alive and well? The film indicates that Dorothy's Oz journey is a dream sequence inspired by Dorothy's being knocked out by a flying windowpane. I see nothing in the film which indicates it should be considered anything but that and nothing which proves Miss Gulch is deceased because Dorothy imagined her Oz counterpart was.

 

Unlike the three farmhands who were not only close to Dorothy but work/reside on the Gale farm and had taken shelter in the storm cellar when the cyclone hit, Miss Gulch, who is not friendly with the Gales and neither worked at nor resided at their farm, would have no reason to be present at Dorothy's bedside other than her desire to re-claim the dog, but her absence certainly should not be considered conclusory evidence that she's gone to the Great Beyond, and, particularly as a child watching the film, wouldn't it be just as reasonable for myself or other children to conclude that she's still alive based on the "evidence" provided onscreen?

 

Whether one is able to concede this point (that Miss Gulch is still alive to re-claim Toto) from viewing the film I think one can see OZ very much as a "coming of age" tale, and not simply "a sweet fable about getting home." Indeed, for those like yourself who believe that Glinda was justified in keeping from Dorothy the fact that the ruby slippers could take her home when she first landed in Oz, I think it's hard to see Dorothy's sojourn in Oz as anything but a "coming of age" tale.

 

In its' establishing Kansas scenes, the film goes to some length to paint Dorothy as a (mildly) disaffected adolescent who's seeking "some place where there isn't any trouble," and subsequently hits the road in search of it because she feels none of the adults at "home," including the three farmhands, listen to or understand her. (Just to make sure we don't miss this point simply by watching Dorothy's story unfold, the script has Prof. Marvel mouth Dorothy's plaint when he's trying to divine her background, i.e., "You're running away...They don't understand you at home. You want to see new lands, etc.")

 

Then via her "dream" Dorothy gets her "wish" by being transported to Oz. While, as Dorothy soon discovers, even Oz is far from a care-free paradise, by the film's conclusion it can be argued that, however inadvertently, through her intervention/participation it has become so. Not only has she eliminated the two most (allegedly) "evil/wicked" influences (the Witches of the East and West) leaving only the allegedly "Good" Witches of the North and South to influence Oz's affairs, but she's managed to expose the charlatan isolationist "Wizard" as a good-natured (and departing) "Humbug" and to install in his place a benevolent public ruling Triumvirate (Scarecrow, Tinman, Cowardly Lion) as the primary governmental force in the land.

 

But how has Dorothy accomplished this? Through her sojourn from Munchkinland to Oz: a quest she's reluctant to undertake initially but is compelled to do so because, according to Glinda, only the Wizard of Oz can send her home and Dorothy must ask him for help in person. In other words in Oz, Dorothy can't just run away from her problems, she must confront them, as well as her doubts, fears, etc. if she's going to get home. Viewed in this context, Dorothy's Oz journey is not only partially, but PRIMARILY about forsaking "the charmed existence of the child for the responsibilities of the adult."

 

Nevertheless, afraid that we won't get the "message" through the actions of Dorothy et. al. alone, Dorothy's final scene in Oz contains a good deal of moralizing to re-emphasize this point and make it clear to viewers.

By her final scene in Oz, Dorothy now has her perfect utopia, but she STILL wants to go home. She gets her "wish" here too, but not before being required to acknowledge to Glinda, et. al. that "Home" will never be the "place without trouble" she was seeking: "I think it wasn't enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em again, and if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't go any further than my own backyard. Because, if it isn't there, I never really had it to begin with."

 

Based on the storyline and the dialogue, it seems to me that if we're going to give the film any validity at all, we must accept that the Dorothy who wakes up from her Oz dream is a changed kid who has learned to both accept and appreciate the realities, both good and bad, of the hardscrabble life on the ramashackle Kansas farm she shares with Uncle and Aunt, even when, as in this case, one of those "realities" concerns an angry neighbor who wants to have her dog euthanized.

 

Of course, I realize you don't agree with this intepreation, but it strikes me as a more than valid, and in the script, pervasive, theme just the same. The whole point of Dorothy's "lesson" which she states just before clicking her heels together and blowing Oz off, seems to be that she has learned that a land "where there isn't any trouble" is very much a fantasy and "Home," i.e,,"reality" is what we make of it, warts and all.

 

As for such "coming of age" stories being done in a "more realistic and conventional vein," while I don't for a moment claim that they are to be considered on the same level as WOZ artistically, to cite just three examples, how dissimilar were the basic themes of such oft-screened seasonsal favorites as RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (the yearling Rudolph runs away from home after being shunned/teased by his contemporaries, but the adult returns when he grows up and realizes you can't run away from your troubles"), HERE COMES PETER COTTONTAIL (the perpetually prevaricating Peter Cottontail almost loses he appointment as the new Easter Bunny to the "villainous" Iron Tail because he lies his way out of everything. Only when he's forced to go on a quest back in time to correct his mistakes with Truth, Courage, Loyalty, etc. does he get his "reward") and THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY (following the murder of his parents by desert vandals, the Drummer Boy Aaron hates all mankind until a personal odyssey to seek out the newborn Christ child gives him a new, more humane outlook).

 

Although OZ is a greater work of art than these seasonal cartoons, the themes that all of them espouse (e.g., courage, heart, friendship,etc.), particularly that of having to exchange the child's charmed existence for the responsibilities of the adult, strike me as universal to all of them.

 

Finally, on the issue of Judy Garland, yes I was speaking of her screen image and not of her talent, and no offense, but given that I made that quite clear in my previous posts, I'm puzzled as to why you took my comments as a disparagement of Garland's offscreen talents and abilities. In the first post in which I raised this issue, I stated:

 

<> (Emphasis added.)

 

And in my most recent prior comment on the same issue, I began the paragraph with the following phrase:

 

<> (Emphasis added.)

 

Suffice to say, at no time did I intend this commentary as a denigration of Judy Garland's undeniable and exceptional talents as a singer/actress, whether through comparisons to the other actresses and films I cited or otherwise. If you go back and read my previous posts, you'll note that I stated my opinion that no one ever played this type of passive screen persona "more appealingly/engagingly" than Judy. I also cited her performance in WOZ as "wonderful" among other highly admirable commentary.

 

That said, I do believe that the sort of passive screen image MGM crafted for Judy is inherent in WOZ (her "activisim" in the film is confined to the fantasy sequences) and has largely disappeared from contemporary film. That's not intended as a disparagement of Garland or her talent, but I do think that with some isolated exceptions, it's the case.

 

'Nuff Said

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