Monday, August 18, 2014

There's No Place Like Home: Celebrating 75 years of The Wizard of Oz

There's no place like home; there's no place like home; there's no place like home...
        [Note: This line is ranked #23 in the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema.]

What is the purpose of life? This question is as old as the human race itself. Some argue that our purpose is to find happiness. Others say our purpose is to love others, to become the best version of ourselves, or to follow God’s will. Still others say there is no purpose to life at all.
I'm always brought back to following the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. My Emerald City was and still is New York City. Of course that imagery comes from The Wizard of Oz.This film premiered in Hollywood 75 years ago weeklast . Like many other classics, the film has become so much more than just a great piece of entertainment.
On this big anniversary, I celebrate what Oz has given us.
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The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, both released in 1939, stand together in the popular imagination as the two greatest Hollywood films, one ostensibly for children, the other for adults.
Ruby slippers. If I only had a brain. We’re not in Kansas, anymore. I’ll get you, My Pretty, and your little dog, too. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. That’s just the tip of a pop-culture iceberg, a towering mountain of nostalgia and influence that rises above most movie fare in a time when the majority of entertainment seems fairly disposable.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children's novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. Originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900, it has since been reprinted numerous times, most often under the name
The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the popular 1902 Broadway musical and the well-known 1939 film adaptation.
It's funny to think that a film that premiered 75 years ago would have  such an impact on my life. Are there any movies opening anytime around now or in recent memory that will affect so many people on such a level 75 years from today. I can answer that with a resounding "NO".

Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful will not become as iconic and enduring a part of our collective pop-cultural subconscious as the original 1939 Wizard of Oz movie and L. Frank Baum’s original novel. But one thing’s for sure: Over the years, both book and movie have fueled a number of elaborate theories as to the story’s deeper meanings. Some of these have been overtly political, some have been spiritual, some, um, monetary.Rad more about that HERE
A lot of it has to do with how this movie was presented to THIS baby boomer and so many others from my generation.
The Wizard of Oz premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theatre 75 years ago this week (August 15th, 1939)!
It was a Tuesday night.
Dorothy Gale was swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarked on a quest to see the Wizard who could hopefully help her return home. She took us with her on this journey and has held us in her heart (as ours hers) ever since. 

It is interesting to note with the annual ritual that was part of my growing up years in the sixties and seventies with the annual television viewings, that it was not, as I assumed, isolated to our household.

Rather, MANY from my generation had the SAME experience! 

The Wizard of Oz has been part of American popular culture since
the first publication of L. Frank Baum’s children’s book The
Wonderful Wizard of Oz at the dawn of the twentieth century.
Ever since, filmmakers, authors, and theatre producers have continued to return to Oz over and over again. However, while literally hundreds of adaptations of the
Wizard of Oz
story abound, a handful of transformations are
particularly significant in exploring discourses of American myth and culture: L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900); MGM’s classic film The Wizard of Oz (1939); Sidney Lumet’s film The Wiz (1978); Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995); and Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s Broadway musical Wicked (2003).
(Source: Alissa Burger - From The Wizard Of Oz To Wicked Trajectory Of American Myth (copyrighted book, review only).
Ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland’s character Dorothy in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. (Richard Strauss / NMAH, SI) Because of their iconic stature,they are now among the most treasured and valuable of film memorabilia.As was customary for important props, a number of pairs were made for the film, though the exact number is unknown. Five pairs are known to have survived; one pair was stolen in August 2005and has never been recovered.

"We dimmed the lights. In our pajamas, we huddled together under a blanket. The annual television broadcast of The Wizard of Oz was a national ritual when we baby boomers were kids.
It would be years before I saw the Technicolor land of Oz bloom outside Dorothy’s black-and-white farmhouse, as we didn’t have a color TV.
Years, too, before I would come up with the idea for a novel, Wicked, which inspired the Broadway musical."
-By Gregory Maguire, Smithsonian Magazine

When studying the metamorphosis of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the original chapter book by L. Frank Baum, to Wicked
by Gregory Maguire, there are three canonical works that stand above all other sequels, prequels, and remakes.

The work that started the entire journey, of course, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, released in 1900 is essential.

In 1939, the most famous adaptation of the original book was made.
The movie The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley, thrust the story into the limelight and made it a true household name.

The most radical adaptation is arguably Wicked, a novel by Gregory Maguire and released in 1995.

This novel turned the archetypal story of Glinda the Good Witch, The Wicked Witch of the West, and a lost gal from Kansas named Dorothy upside down. This prequel has gained much attention for its bold and risque images, along with its edgy and heady themes. For this reason, it must also be analyzed as a canonical work in the collection.

Thank to ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating the first Fifty Years of Hello, Dolly!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Check out This Site Celebrating The Wizard of Oz

Be sure and Save The Date to see Jim Speake on October 11th as he celebrates Cy Coleman

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Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
Richard Skipper Celebrates

Rick Ewigleben is offering two more unforgettable characters from his PORTRAITS OF OZ series. This time it's that High Priest of Humbuggery, PROFESSOR MARVEL, and the malevolent MISS GULCH. 2- quality 8 1/2 x 11 reprints are only $20 (includes S&H). Also sold separately. Buy any or all, He will adjust the pricing accordingly. Please email him at

Check out his website!

Richard Skipper,

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