Why we love the land of Oz
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Just some of the reasons we love the land of Oz:
1. L. Frank Baum wrote 1900's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" as what he called a "modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out."
No need for the morality of old-time tales; modern education takes care of that, he argued. Throw in Kansas as the home of Dorothy, Auntie Em and Uncle Henry, and you have an all-American starting point.
2. The Oscar-winning score and song, "Over the Rainbow," as performed by Judy Garland in a way that has often been imitated but never duplicated. That tune is alive with yearning, optimism and dreamy hope.
3. Moviegoers clamored to follow the yellow brick road from day one, with the first premiere in Hollywood and the second two days later in New York with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. Lines started to form outside the Loew's Capitol Theater in New York at 5:30 a.m. and by 8 a.m., the box office opened to 15,000 waiting patrons.
4. The shivers and shudders some adults still feel when they see and hear the cackle of the Wicked Witch of the West.
5. It's the most watched film in history, according to the Library of Congress.
Back before VHS tapes, DVDs and streaming made movies accessible every minute of every day, it was appointment movie-going or television watching. It was magical to watch the black and white (actually sepia in the movie's initial engagements) give way to glorious color, an argument for buying a color TV or going to Grandma's to watch.
6. Talk about a happy accident. A 1989 story by Eleanor Ringel of Cox News Service, timed to the movie's golden anniversary, noted that "Oz" was sold to TV almost as an afterthought. CBS hoped to lease "Gone With the Wind" for $1 million but MGM said no, instead offering "Oz" for $225,000 and an option to broadcast it yearly. The rights later passed to other networks, including TCM, TBS and TNT.
7. The allure of the ruby slippers -- called "The Silver Shoes" in the book -- and all they signify. Dorothy learns that the slippers have powers and if she knocks the heels together three times and commands the shoes, she can return home.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio led a group of "angel donors" whose gifts enabled a pair of the sparkly slippers to be purchased for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, scheduled to open in 2016. Of the four pairs known to exist, these slippers are in the most pristine condition.
8. The story lives on in so many ways, from favorite Halloween costumes (Dorothy's outfit is a lot more forgiving than, say, Catwoman's) to tie-in toys, "Wicked" and high school musicals. At least five schools or groups in the region are staging "The Wizard of Oz" this spring.
9. Its simple, timeless message about how "there's no place like home."
10. That quote was one of three chosen by the American Film Institute in 2005 for its list of the 100 greatest movie lines. It was No. 23 while "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" was No. 4. Placing 99th on the list, just ahead of "I'm king of the world" from "Titanic" was this threat: "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!"
First Published March 8, 2013 12:00 am