The Wizard of Oz (film)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.
—TV guide summary of the movie, Marin Independent-Journal

The 1939 Metro Goldwyn Mayer film adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland. To many people, The Wizard of Oz is more familiar than the original book, and -- largely thanks to becoming an annual broadcast television staple in The Fifties -- one of the most famous movies ever made.

The film changed the silver shoes to ruby slippers (depending on this source, this was either to show off the new color technology of the time, or because silver shoes didn't show up well), merged the two good witches, cut out several incidents, including all of Dorothy's (admittedly anticlimactic) journey from the Emerald City to Glinda's palace, and added the All Just a Dream ending -- the studio heads thought the audience was too sophisticated to accept a "real" fantasyland.

This movie has proven so popular that it has had several stage adaptations written and produced over the years. Professional productions have included a touring ice show in the 1990s, an All-Star Cast concert staging in New York City in 1995, another N.Y.C. production that ran seasonally at Madison Square Garden later in the decade, and a 2011 London production produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber that added several new songs by Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The 2011 Tom and Jerry Direct to Video movie Tom and Jerry and The Wizard of Oz is a Twice-Told Tale version. And in 2013, Disney released Oz the Great and Powerful, a well-made Prequel which, while not legally permitted to actually make references to the 1939 film, still managed to set up almost everything from it. A sequel to Oz The Great and Powerful was approved by Disney on March 2013, but no news has come up since.

In late 2013, a remastered, 3D IMAX version of the film was very briefly released to theatres (it ran only one week) in celebration of its then-upcoming 75th anniversary.

The Stock Parody Off to See the Wizard is almost invariably derived from this version of the story.

The Wizard of Oz (film) is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in The Wizard of Oz (film) include:
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the book, the Good Witch of the North was older and really plain looking. In the movie, she's glamorous and rather beautiful.
    • Albeit it should be pointed out that the movie's Glinda is an amalgam of two witches from the book: the unnamed Good Witch of the North (the older, plain one), and Glinda the Good Witch of the South, who is explicitly stated to be agelessly beautiful.
    • Oddly, the Wicked Witch of the West counts as well. While she's definitely not attractive in the movie, in the book she was a withered old woman with an eyepatch over one eye. An early idea was for her to be extremely glamorous, essentially a clone of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs's Evil Queen.
  • Adaptational Badass: While the Witch could cast a few magical spells in the original novel, she's a far more powerful sorceress in this version; she was not able to do such things as throw fireballs or fly on a broomstick in the novel. Also, in the book she had nothing to do with the poppy field with pollen that lulled Dorothy and the Lion into a slumber; in this version, she created it.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The movie cuts out Dorothy's trip into Quadling Country and Glinda just appears in the Emerald City.
  • Adaptation Dye Job: In the original novels, Dorothy is blonde, and does not wear braids. In fact, the movie's production staff tried giving Garland a blonde wig - along with heavier makeup - in early screenings, but decided it exaggerated her features and went for a plainer - and brunette with braids - look.
  • Alliteration: The Wicked Witch of the West.
  • An Aesop: Delivered by Dorothy at the end of the movie.

If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, l won't look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn't there I never really lost it to begin with. [big snip] There's no place like home!

  • All Just a Dream: Unlike in the original books. The reason why it was changed for the film was because MGM felt that 1930's audiences were too sophisticated to accept Oz as a straight ahead fantasy, so they made it as a lengthy, elaborate dream, instead. Though some could argue Dorothy's slippers made everybody else think it was a dream.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The scene where everyone panics on the farm and rushes to Dorothy's aid when she falls in the pig pen. Most these days see it as unintentional hilarity but those who've raised pigs on a farm would know the notorious risk of pigs killing and trying to eat small children.
  • Ambiguously Gay/Camp Gay: The Cowardly Lion.
  • And I Must Scream: Dorothy saves the Tin Man from this fate.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: The Wicked Witch of the East is one of the most famous examples.
  • Artistic License Chemistry: Something often overlooked about the Tin Woodsman is that tin does not rust; presumably, Baum did not know that.
  • Ascended Extra: The Witch wasn't truly an "extra" in the original book, but she only appeared in one chapter; her role is expanded greatly in this version.
  • Ascended Fanfic: The novel Wicked, its sequel Son of a Witch, and its much better-known Musical adaptation, Wicked: The Musical. All base their continuity on the movie far more than the books.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Shamelessly: "Only bad witches are ugly." Of course you could say it's a case of a person's "inside matching their outside".
  • Buffy Speak: The Wizard struggles with the word "philanthropists" before simply calling them "good-deed doers".
  • Cameo Prop: L. Frank Baum died before the film was made, making a Creator Cameo impossible. But, in a remarkable coincidence, Frank Morgan as Professor Marvel wore a secondhand coat that turned out to have belonged to the author. (It's true; Snopes confirms it.)
  • Canon Foreigner: The five people who Dorothy knows and who appear in her dream - Zeke, Hunk, Hickory, Miss Gulch, and Professor Marvel - were created exclusively for the film, likely to use the "dream counterpart angle" as a plot device.
  • Chickification: Compare the book's practical, plucky little girl with the movie's frightened, helpless damsel. Of course this may be a bit of a subversion. She's only a frightened, helpless damsel when protecting herself. But if you try to so much as mess with her dog or her friends, well, you'd better watch yourself.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The ruby slippers won't come off Dorothy's feet, and shock the Witch when she tries to remove them. (In the original book, however, Dorothy could and did frequently remove the silver shoes.)
    • In Wicked‍'‍s account of Dorothy's part of the story, she complains to the Witch about being unable to change her socks or wash her feet during her entire journey across Oz. This might count as Fridge Horror, depending on how you feel about dirty feet.
  • Composite Character: In the original novel, Dorothy was given her mission upon arriving by the Witch of the North, and didn't meet Glinda, the Witch of the South, until the conclusion. In this version, Glinda combines the roles of both the benevolent witches. Glinda also takes on the role of the Snow Queen (a character from one of Baum's stage plays), sending a snowfall to save Dorothy, Toto, and the Lion from the poppy fields. In the original book, the Scarecrow and Tin-Man carry Dorothy out and the Lion is eventually pulled out by a huge team of field mice, on a wooden cart made by the Tin Man.
  • The Coroner: The Munchkin Coroner's role may have been brief, but it was also one of the roles that most stood out.
  • Crosscast Role: Toto was played by a female Cairn terrier, named Terry.
  • Cowardly Lion: Well, duh.
  • Curtain Camouflage: The wizard.
  • Cute Clumsy Man: The Scarecrow is afflicted with the weakest legs you ever saw. Several times throughout the film he trips and has to pick himself back up again, and is practically half-dragged along whenever all four of them skip on the Yellow Brick Road.
  • Cut Song
  • Cyborg: Although the film glosses over it, the Tin Woodsman was once a very fleshly and human woodcutter, who had the parts cut off of him by a cursed ax replaced by tin parts, until there was nothing left but tin.
  • Darker and Edgier: While it doesn't seem like this to the average viewer, some parts are considerably darker than the book. Baum explicitly said that he wanted to make a story with all the wonder of a classic fairy tale but none of the horror and tragedy. By contrast, the movie features Toto getting sentenced to death, as well as Dorothy and her friends nearly getting killed by the Witch and her minions several times. Instead of the book's comical Witch, the movie's Witch is genuinely scary. And instead of being neutral creatures compelled to answer the Witch's three wishes, the movie's flying monkeys are eerily silent monstrosities who serve the Witch as mindless slaves.
    • Then again, there are moments when the movie is Lighter and Softer than the book. The book explicitly had Dorothy's companions kill the creatures sent by the Wicked Witch and the origin of the Tin Woodsman is considerably horrific.
    • The biggest change in this regard is that, in the book, the Good Witch of the North put a charm on Dorothy that prevented anyone in Oz from hurting her, so throughout the entire story she's never actually in any physical danger.
  • Death's Hourglass: Set running by the Witch to intimidate Dorothy into giving up the slippers.
  • Debut Queue: The order Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion became one of the most iconic and well-remembered examples of this trope.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: In the 1939 movie, the real world scenes are black and white (later tinted in a sepia tone for broadcast on TV) and the Oz scenes are in color.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Scarecrow's quote once he receives his diploma ("The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.") is thrice wrong: It should be a right triangle, it should be the squares, not the square roots, and it's not any two sides, it's the two catheti (the sides adjacent the right angle). (Everyone knows this from math class... or if you saw The Simpsons episode where Homer quoted the line exactly in a bathroom and was promptly corrected by a guy a few stalls down.)
    • This might have been Played for Laughs or a Take That to show that having a degree doesn't automatically make you smart in all ways. It's also a subtle way to show that the objects the Wizard gives the trio don't actually give them what they want, but only bring out the feelings inside of them that will help them. The Scarecrow now has the confidence to trust his own innate intelligence even when he doesn't know everything.
  • Disneyfication: The books contain a surprising amount of casual and sometimes decidedly un-PC violence: in the first one alone -- besides the wholesale witchicide -- the Scarecrow twists the necks of crows sent to attack them, the Tin Woodsman chops the heads off vicious wolves, and the Cowardly Lion swats the head off a giant spider with his paw. And, of course, the Tin Woodsman became tin by gradually having all his bits cut off and replaced -- up to and including his head.
  • Dramatic Curtain Toss: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."
  • Dream Land: Oz turns out to be a dream. Arguably foreshadowed by the cyclone scene, in which Dorothy hallucinates Miss Gulch, carried aloft on her bicycle, transforming into the Wicked Witch (both portrayed by the same actress), and in which Dorothy suffers a blow to the head and passes out on the bed as everything spins around her.
    • And then again. maybe not... let's not forget those the magical reality warping slippers.
  • Dungeon Master: Glinda made Dorothy trek through Oz on her quest to get home, only to tell Dorothy that she already knew the ruby shoes could get her home. Of course she never abandoned her, she simply knew the only way Dorothy could learn to work the shoes was through first-hand experience.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: The sequins on Glinda's dress.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: The slippers being changed from silver to ruby.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Guess who?
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: In the witch's castle, the Tin Woodsman cuts the rope holding an iron chandelier and drops it upon a band of Winkie guards.
  • The Film of the Book
  • Fireballs: "Here, Scarecrow! Wanna play ball?"
  • Forced to Watch: What the Wicked Witch attempts at the climax. "The last one to go will see the first three go before her, and her mangy little dog too."
  • Giant Poofy Sleeves: Glinda's dress
  • Grass Is Greener: "There's no place like home!"
  • Happy Place: The entire Land of Oz is this for Dorothy, a place where there isn't any trouble (for the first two acts, at least) and bathed in color.
  • Hostage for Macguffin: Subverted in that the Wicked Witch demands the ruby slippers in return for Toto, but the slippers are stuck to Dorothy's feet and won't come off. Although Dorothy agrees to hand over the slippers, the Witch gets a nasty shock when she tries to remove them.
  • Huge Holographic Head: The Wizard manifests as one of these -- at least until he is unmasked.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Dorothy and Friends are really bright and very sweet characters to contrast the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Mostly by the Cowardly Lion.
  • Irony: One of the Scarecrow's biggest laments is that he's no good at his job - scaring crows, naturally - although Dorothy points out that where she comes from, a living, talking scarecrow would scare them to death.
  • It Was with You All Along: The ruby slippers are Dorothy's ticket home.
  • Kick the Dog: The Wicked Witch gets a good number of these:
    • Threatening Dorothy's dog Toto in the Trope Namers for And Your Little Dog, Too.
    • Ordering her Mooks to drown Toto anyway after Dorothy had already agreed to do what the Witch asked.
    • Trapping Dorothy in a room with an evil hourglass, making Aunt Em appear in her crystal ball, and then sadistically mocking her once she's completely broken down.
    • The above-mentioned Forced to Watch attempt at the climax.
  • Kill It with Water: The Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Large Ham: They all have their moments, but The Wicked Witch Of The West takes the cake. That woman was having fun.
  • Lighter and Softer: This never stops the witch from fulfilling her Complete Monster personality.
  • Little People Are Surreal: Have you seen the inhabitants of the Munchkin city?
  • Lovable Coward: The Cowardly Lion, of course. The Scarecrow and Tin Man show it too in a few scenes.
  • The Makeover: In "The Merry Old Land of Oz".
  • Melodrama
  • Memetic Outfit: Dorothy is mostly remembered as wearing a blue-and-white checkered dress and the ruby slippers with brunette hair braided in pigtails.
  • Mood Whiplash: The movie cuts right from "Over the Rainbow" to Miss Gulch riding in on her bicycle, complete with that music.
    • After first blowing the audience's mind by going from sepia to technicolor and giving one cheerful Ear Worm after another, everything comes crashing down when the Wicked Witch of the West appears in a flash of fire.
  • The Musical
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The villain is named The Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Notable Original Music: Practically all of the songs count, but "Over the Rainbow" is the most famous; it not only won the Oscar for Best Song, but also became Judy Garland's Signature Song and has even become a Bootstrapped Theme for MGM itself.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Uncle Henry. Just looking at him you can tell he's just playing dumb to avoid trouble from Miss Gulch, like the way he asks if Dorothy was the one who bit her right before slamming the gate on her ass.
  • Offstage Villainy [context?]
  • Oh Crap: The Wicked Witch before melting.
  • Paper Tiger: When the Cowardly Lion first appears he acts in an aggressive manner, charging the group and challenging them to a fight. When he tries to attack Toto, Dorothy smacks him on the nose and he starts crying. Granted, the Cowardly Lion also turns out to be a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass later on.
  • Parental Bonus: Many lines, especially the Wizard's.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Glinda's super frilly dress.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Glinda's dress, wings, and crown-like hat.
  • Plucky Girl: Dorothy is a bit more subdued, but the pluck is still there.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The movie. It can, at times, be difficult to find someone who knows that there are two good witches, let alone the rest of the stuff cut from the book.
  • Punch Clock Villain: The Wicked Witch's Winkie guards, judging by how they react to the heroes killing her.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The Cowardly Lion's costume looks like something whipped up from old plush and yak fur. It was actually made from a real lion, complete with paws and tail.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The dialogue Dorothy and her aunt have with Zeke, Hunk, and Hickory at the beginning of the story seem to coincide with the personalities of their counterparts in Dorothy's dream, becoming evident afterwards.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The evil owls and vultures in the Haunted Forest.
  • Real Is Brown: For the first part of the film the coloring is sepia-tone, right up until Dorothy steps out into Munchkinland. Even after all these years, the effect can be quite shocking upon a first viewing.
  • Royal Decree: The Wizard gives one at the end, telling the people to follow the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Woodsman in his stead.
  • Skip of Innocence: Dorothy as she starts off on her journey down the yellow brick road. Her optimism is so infectious, everyone she recruits along the way joins her in her step.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Professor Marvel is the Loveable Rogue type, using his fortunetelling act to convince Dorothy to rethink her decision to run away from home.
  • Special Effects Failure: Visible for the first time in decades thanks to the remastered IMAX edition of 2013: painfully fake birds in the forest, the seam where the witch's latex chin is attached and the seam around the lion's face.
    • Averted by the Scarecrow's makeup: who knew his entire face except his eyes had an incredibly realistic burlap texture?
  • Standard Snippet: During the escape sequence at the Witch's castle, between the breaking of the door and the Witch's arrival with the hourglass, the soundtrack uses some of Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain.
  • Sugar Bowl [context?]
  • Urban Legends:
    • For a long time, people thought that a crowned crane in the scene where Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man resume their journey was a guy hanging himself. You can blame the bad image quality and small size of TV screens for this legend -- when the film was re-released in 3D IMAX in late 2013, the crane was very obviously a crane.
    • And of course the Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon soundtrack synching legend. Vigorously denied by the band, who have pointed out that the audio technology, necessary to make the film soundtrack and rock album synch this precisely with each other, didn't exist in 1973.
  • Viewers are Morons: Amazingly averted in the Executive Meddling which resulted in the All Just a Dream ending -- the studio executives thought the audience was too sophisticated to accept Oz as a real place.
  • We Do the Impossible: The Wizard's reputation, entirely undeserved. Arguably, Dorothy gains this reputation through her adventures.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: If we're supposed to believe it was All Just a Dream, then what happened to Miss Gulch and her wanting to have Toto taken away? If it wasn't, then, of course, we know she turned into the Wicked Witch and ended up getting melted -- or crushed, depending on which witch she actually was -- but if it was, then that's a rather serious loose end. In one theatrical adaptation, it's mentioned that Miss Gulch did get rather banged up by the tornado, with the suggestion she realized Toto wasn't worth the trouble.
  • Wicked Witch: Of the West.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: The overall Aesop of the story, as the Wizard explains at the end, telling Dorothy's friends that what they wanted - Brains, Heart, and Courage - are nothing but frivolous things that represent qualities they always had an abundance of.
  • You Have No Chance to Survive: The Wicked Witch of the West, when pointing at Death's Hourglass to Dorothy: "This is how long you'll live. And it isn't long, my pretty! It isn't long!"
  • You Imagined It: Maybe, maybe not?
  • Your Little Dismissive Diminutive:

Wicked Witch of the West: I'll get you, my pretty! And Your Little Dog, Too!