Sunday, December 25, 2011

 

A Christmas Wiz


There was a Wiz of a Wiz last night. We gathered at my daughter’s house and her three girls watched the Wizard of Oz for the first time. It was magic revisited as I watched their faces when Judy sang Over the Rainbow. They were mesmerized.

The film was not a critical or commercial success when first released, but subsequent re-releases made it both and now it will live forever.

It’s amazing that the film ever was completed due to many complexities in shooting, costuming and casting. Buddy Ebsen was originally supposed to be the Scarecrow and Ray Bolger was the Tin Man. But Bolger protested because we wanted the role of Scarecrow. They made the switch and it almost killed poor Buddy. He had a terrible and near fatal reaction to the silver paint he had to wear with the costume and wound up recovering in an iron lung. Jack Haley replaced Ebsen with no major troubles.

Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch) was severely burned during the second take of her leaving Munchkinland in a burst of flame. The first take, which went well, was used in the final film.

Christmas Eve is a magic time for kids, old and young, and adding the Wizard of Oz to the mix makes good sense to me. We may not always be in Kansas, Toto, but we always find our way back home.

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