Monday, December 24, 2012

Movie Monday: The "I didn't watch the Wizard" Edition

The Wizard of Oz was on TV Saturday night.

I did not watch it.

Well, that's not exactly true. I watched it until Dorothy sings "Over the Rainbow", and then I bailed. And then, I looked back in a little later on, but didn't stay.

I think I might be Wizarded out.

This is not to say that it isn't a good film, or that I don't like it. It is, I think, and I do. But after seeing it more times than I can count, I just can't do it anymore.

The Wizard of Oz was a fixture of my childhood that very well might have started with its first airing on television, on November 3, 1956, but I couldn't tell you for sure; I was just about two and a half months old at that time. Certainly, I can remember watching it from a very young age. I remember that the Flying Monkeys frightened me, to the point that I often wandered off around the time they appeared on-screen when my family would watch the film, which was pretty much every time it was on.

I did not figure out, however, that the Flying Monkeys are what bothers me about the film until I was well into adulthood, when I was watching it one night and realized that when the monkeys came on the scene, I was suddenly hiding my head under a blanket. It made me feel stupid, but at least it solved the mystery of why I've seen the beginning and the end of the movie so many times, but the middle not so many times.

The Wizard of Oz continues to fascinate me as a movie, though, even if I don't necessarily love watching it any more. I find it interesting that it turned out to be watchable at all. AFter all, although Victor Fleming is credited as the director of the film, five others had some directorial input. The original director, Richard Thorpe, worked on it for about three weeks before being fired. Apparently none of the footage he shot survived except in someone's home movies, with this footage showing that if he had remained, the film would have looked very different from what we know as the film today. As just one example, Dorothy was blonde.

In addition to all the directors, there is a huge list of writers who worked on the script, although only three, Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allen Woolf, ended up with credit for it. With that many writers and that many directors, the film could have devolved into a mess.

My favorite piece of movie trivia surrounding The Wizard of Oz is that its main director, Victor Fleming, also directed another classic film that came out the same year: Gone With the Wind. In fact, Fleming left The Wizard of Oz early to begin work on GWTW. I find it interesting that two of the most famous American movies of all time, movies that still get regular showings these 73 years after their release, were directed, one after the other, by the same man.

My question to you is, are there any classic or holiday movies that you just don't care to watch any more, or any you've never been a fan of? Is there, for example, anyone else out there who just can't abide It's a Wonderful Life?

No comments: