I owe the title to Zach Galifianapkinakis, who when he’s not starring is painfully shite comedy films, can actually be very funny.
I have no idea when was the last time I watched The Wizard of Oz(well apart from just). It’s a long time ago now. There was a time it was on every Christmas and it just became part of the Christmas furniture – the perfect backdrop to unwrapping presents by the tree! Oh my god christmas can never be a tenth that good again. I suppose sooner or later, you end up seeing it so many times, you need a break so you start inadvertently avoiding it.
But then as you get older, you get a bit nostalgic so you buy the DVD with best intentions. But somehow it just never feels like the right time to rewatch it. It’s too big. And that damn DVD sits there for 10 years with the cellophane intact, whispering in your ear “Why do you forsake your childhood so, Scrooge lover?”.
I’ve even(and this is a horrible insight into my poor resolve and poorer hand-eye coordination) picked it out to watch a couple of times, fumbled unsuccessfully with the cellophane, then thought better of it and tossed it to one side muttering curse words to myself. But for some reason, after this year’s first failed attempt and side toss(true story), I picked it up again and persevered. It was finally time to return to Oz.
I figured I would most likely end up begrudgingly watching it, but only half watching it while trying to accomplish something else, and somehow zoning out in the middle and achieving neither. But nope – it had me gripped from the start.
And as I watched the film in a new light, I realised I urgently needed to share many important findings with you, my fans, my acolytes, my children. So here is my rundown of AMAZING Wizard of Oz FACTS that you absolutely cannot live without:
- I’m stunned how great this film looks bearing in mind it was made in 1939. And I’m not talking about any fancy after-the-fact additions or restorations either. I mean the effects, the imagination, the daring. This must’ve been like the opening of Star Wars for children back then. The clever colour transition, the scene with the twister, the sky writing witch on the broomstick, the lavish sets and matte paintings. I love it.
There’s one scene where Dorothy is being taken away by a flying monkey and you can see her feet kicking! I swear I’ve seen worse special effects in movies made in the 1980s. There’s another scene where steam comes out of the tin man’s hat and Toto, clearly from the method school of acting, jumps back in shock.
- I remember watching it a few times growing up and always that black and white bit at the start felt like boring confusing nonsense. But now I see that it’s the fundamental foundation for the whole thing! She takes a bang to the head and has an incredible hallucination involving all the elements she encountered leading up to it that day. I know this is kind of obvious even to a kid, but please understand that I was a very strange and slow child! I took everything at face value! I just wanted to see the Scarecrow lolloping about really. He’s the character I identified with most for some reason. Stop fucking larfing at the back there or I’ll have you taken off to my castle by flying monkeys!
- The casting for the film was just sublime. Everyone seems so damned perfect for their parts. Even Toto. More challenging for the Munchkins as they were restricted to choosing from either hormonally overactive children or little people(see 4). But even so, most of the Munchkins were great too.
- I’m told that “little people” is now the preferred nomenclature but I fear I may have been the victim of a practical joke as it doesn’t seem like a very flattering term to my mind. Isn’t dwarf or midget better than that? Surely little people evokes twee fairytale scenes in magical woodland dells. Surely that’s not advancing their cause any? But whadda I know. Oh well – when In Rome!
- It’s clear to me now that the film is a massive affront to little people. Labelling them as “Munchkins”, their exaggerated sped up high pitched voices, their grotesque caricaturisation in line with circus freak tropes, their ridiculous toy doll outfits and haircuts. e.g. several of the Munchkin men have long stemmed flowers growing up from the toes of their shoes.
This is a laughably impractical footwear feature – those shoes wouldn’t last a day – even of light usage. The flowers would complicate things unnecessarily, the stems would inevitably go flacid and you’d end up looking a right div as you tripped over them while trying to walk home down the yellow brick road. That being the case, are we to assume that they each don a new pair of flower shoes every single day? This is brazenly wasteful and must take its toll on the local cow population; not to mention the impact on global warming! No, no, wait a minute… they say cows are some of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gases don’t they? And flowers suck up carbon dioxide and make oxygen. Oh my GOD the Munchkins are fucking geniuses! Quick everyone – to the cobblers/florists!
- I feel that Dorothy’s accusation of cowardice levelled at Zeke after he wades into the pig pen to save her is a little premature and verging on unclassy. Maybe he’s flustered because he thought Dorothy was in imminent danger. But whatever – he just saved Dorothy from a weird hanging-being-eaten-alive-by-pigs death, and frankly I was appalled by her vulgar ingratitude here.
- How readily the Gale family surrender Toto to the rancid Miss Gulch. It’s a terrier for fuck’s sake? A lap dog! How savagely can it have “attacked” her? First world problems Miss Flange! And why don’t they ask to see any evidence of said attack? Which demented justice of the peace signed the court order to have the dog destroyed? I think Miss Flange forged the order or bribed some heartless official into committing an act of malfeasance. But WHATEVER MAN – the Gales just pull a face and in so many words say “yeah sure – take our dog and kill it”. If that was my dog I’d be roundhousing that demented murderous harpy out of the patio doors faster than you can say “FUCK YOU LADY ….. and the bike you rode in on!”
- I fail to see how these Good Witch/Wicked Witch labels can possibly be helping the already volatile stand-off situation which is tearing Oz apart. Cut the stereotyping bullshit people of Oz! Check your privilege!
- I wonder what The Lollipop Guild does exactly? Its members look like a bunch of truculent little teamsters who probably use their giant lollipops as weapons or crowbars. I’d go further and venture a guess that they’re the source of most of the crime in Munchkinland. The creepy little thug bastards.
- Some parts of this film are truly sinister. First of all those trees that attack Dorothy and the scarecrow when they try to pick apples. They’re ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING to me, like Davros from Dr Who. The old Davros anyway – now he’s probably been reimagined as a flamboyant hairdresser as part of the whole PC make over.
Then there’s the flying monkeys. Holy shit – that scene where they’re sent to abduct Dorothy still scares me behind the sofa! Their faces, the way they move. I HATE them!
- I suspect The Wizard is suffering from some kind of split personality disorder. He keeps popping up as different characters, the guy who answers the door, the coachman, a guard, the evil green wizard, then the man behind the curtain. Each character seems to have different intentions towards our main protagonists. With the exception of the man behind the curtain, all The Wizard’s other alternate selves seem malevolently intent on dicking our heroes around, or even offing them. And let’s face it, it’s only when he’s exposed, that the man behind the curtain beguiles them with his well-meaning confused old man act, fobbing them off with his woefully inadequate “solutions” to their brain/heart/courage crises. If I was the Cowardly Lion and he handed me that medal, I’d have thrown it back in his stupid face and said “BITCH PLEASE!? Try again FOOL!”. In many ways, The Wizard is the stealth villain of the piece – the concealed puppet master making all the competing factions in OZ dance for his demented entertainment.
- When The Wicked Witch of the West accuses Dorothy of murder, she’s a little off and I think Dorothy would be well within her rights to sue the witch for slander. At best it’s manslaughter, but then again, it’s not like Dorothy was piloting the house and surely the outcome would’ve been exactly the same had she been in it or not(barring Stephen Hawking popping up and lecturing me about Kepler’s tornado laws and chaos theory)(which I’d counter by throwing a bucket of water over him – either he’d melt or be wet and disgruntled – win win for me either way). So this whole vendetta episode was just a simple misunderstanding which could’ve so easily been resolved, which brings me to my next point …
- The Good Witch of the North is a bit of a disingenuous shit-stirrer if you ask me. Sure, she’s all peaches and cream on the face of it; a good Samaritan who turns up out of the blue after Dorothy “murders” the Wicked Witch of the East; because she just wants to help, right? But notice how she behaves when the Wicked Witch of the West shows up and goes MENTAL at Dorothy, wrongly accusing her of her sister’s murder. Instead of defusing this unfortunate misunderstanding by explaining that Dorothy was merely along for the ride in a runaway house which happened to fall on her sister, “The Good Witch” chooses to interject and remind The Wicked Witch of the West about the ruby slippers.
Now why in the world would she do that?
TIME OUT PEOPLE!
I’m already sick of typing these impractical names so from now on:
TWWOTW = The Wicked Witch of the West
TWWOTE = The Wicked Witch of the East
TGWOTN = Glinda, The Good Witch of the North
TWWOTW hadn’t even so much as mentioned the slippers before that. She probably would have tired herself out ranting at Dorothy, then buggered off on her broomstick and forgotten about the whole damn thing. But no, TGWOTN goes and sticks a big spanner in the works by reminding her about those ruby slippers, and in doing so, renders Dorothy the quarry in a sick game of cat and mouse which leaves TWWOTW dead, and Oz without a wizard. Oh how convenient! I wonder who stepped into that power vacuum then?
WHY GLINDA OF COURSE! WAKE UP FOOLS! TGWOTN has clearly gone full gangsta here. Before Dorothy showed up, I bet that phony skank was playing both wicked witches off against each other and profiting from the ensuing mayhem. And now one of them’s dead she sniffs an opportunity and steps up to take full advantage of the situation. If Dorothy and TWWOTW could only see her devious intentions, they’d form an alliance right there and then and whack the scheming two-faced bitch. There’s a tacit thread running through the story implying that TWWOTW is somehow the bad guy here, but she’s a straight shooter compared to the other key players in Oz. She’s always up front about her intentions. She honestly believes she’s honouring a sacred vendetta – i.e. avenging her poor sister TWWOTE, who was murdered by Dorothy the house pilot, and recovering a family heirloom which was cynically stolen in the process. In comparison, the so-called “Good Witch” is positively Machiavellian with her wheels-within-wheels ulterior plots and murderous gangster schemes. Next to her and the demented puppet master Wizard, TWWOTW comes off like some kind of white knight in this story.
- I used to think Dorothy was the main character in the film, but now it’s obvious that it’s Toto. Toto’s on a real hero’s journey here. First Miss Gulch is out to kill him and he has to find his courage to escape her basket and jump from a moving vehicle, then find his way back home.
Then he’s transported to a parallel universe where he is threatened by a witch, and has to use his networking skills to find companions to help him complete his journey. In the meantime he’s preyed on by flying monkeys and once again manages to escape imminent execution, this time at the hands of TWWOTW.
That jump he makes from the castle’s rising drawbridge under a hail of monkey spears is just spectacular. I fucking LOVE this dog. The actress who played Toto, Terry, did all her own stunts apparently. And what does he do when he escapes – run to freedom? Oh no, not Toto the brave. No he goes and rallies the others and joins them for a final assault on the witch’s castle. Such courage! Then at the end, clearly sensing a fatal flaw in the schizophrenic wizard’s dodgy balloon plan, Toto has the initiative to leap out of the balloon’s gondola, saving Dorothy’s life and inciting TGWOTN to come and offer them the comparatively easy transport alternative of slipper teleport. The only thing that troubles me is what happens to Toto once they get home. Surely Miss Flange’s court order still stands and she’ll be back in force with officers of the law to have Toto escorted under armed guard to a correctional facility where he’ll be put on death row and eventually executed. Bit of a fucking downer for our main protagonist that – I can understand why they left that out of the film all things considered. If the Gales had any damn sense they’d build a little secret compartment inside the house and hide Toto in there. Then they could just tell Miss Flange that he got blown away by the tornado. I’ve got to say, watching it now, for me Toto is the hero of the piece and I want a dog just like him(her) right now. What do you say to that then Bosie Spool?
Well that’s just plain rude.
- If TWWOTW was vulnerable to water all that time, and presumably her sister was too, then how come no one ever found out by accident? Like when it rained or when things splashed. She must’ve smelled terrible as showers were presumably verboten. Did she not drink for goodness sake? That’s a very strange Achilles’ heel to have if you ask me. Red card Wizard of Oz!
- Is it me of are Wicked Witches looking sexier these days? THERE – I said it. I DON’T CARE. I will not take it back. I think she’s got it going on under there and I dig her no-nonsense approach to people who fuck with her family. Mind you, I have also been defending Scrooge in A Christmas Carol a lot lately. Maybe these are warning signs and I’m turning to the dark side. I fear it’s too late for me. Save yourselves while you still can.
Well that’s my AMAZING list of Wizard of Oz FACTS. I hope you feel edified and if you don’t well you’d better just watch out, or else I’ll GET YOU MY PRETTY – AND YER LITTLE DOG TOO!