The Wizard of Oz is an American classic musical family adventure fantasy film directed by Victor Fleming, written by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf, and scored by Harold Arlen. It is based on the children’s novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” written by L. Frank Baum.
The film was written by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf. The movie was released on August 25, 1939, and it won two Oscars for “Best Music, Original Song” and “Best Music, Original Score.” It starred Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin, Pat Walshe, and Clara Blandick.
Additionally, it was considered for the award for Best Picture. It is universally acknowledged as one of the best movies ever made and one of the most cherished movies ever. The whole production of The Wizard of Oz took place at Sony Pictures Studios, which is located at 10202 Washington Blvd, Culver City, California 90232, in the United States. Stage 15 was used for the sequences that took place in Emerald City, whereas Stage 29 was utilized for the entirety of the Kansas scenes.
The Story Behind the Wizard of Oz
- Judy Garland, Jack Haley, Ray Bolger, and Bert Lahr star in the musical film The Wizard of Oz, released in 1939 and directed by Victor Fleming. The plot of the movie centers on Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland), who travels through the mystical country of Oz in search of a means to get back home. Along the trip, she encounters several peculiar people.
- During her journeys, she made friends with three different characters, namely. Scarecrow (Roy Bolger), portrays the role that lacks intelligence, the Tin Man (Jack Haley), who is cruel, and the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), who strives to be courageous. Dorothy, with the assistance of Glinda (Billie Burke), the Good Witch of the North, and her ruby slippers, sets off on a journey to locate the powerful Wizard of Oz (Frank Morgan), in the expectation that he will be able to grant her request and allow her to return home.
- When it was first shown to the public in 1939, The Wizard of Oz was an instant hit and won broad appreciation for the creative way it told its story as well as the stunning technicolor images it included. It was awarded both the Academy Award for Best Original Score and the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow.” In addition, Victor Flemming was considered for the Palme d’Or award during the 1939 edition of the Cannes Film Festival.
- Because of its evergreen theme that “there’s no place like home,” this movie has become a classic and is considered one of Hollywood’s all-time favorites. It is still extensively celebrated in modern times with many theater adaptations, remakes, book adaptations, and even festivals specifically dedicated to it.
The Wizard of Oz Film Locations
MGM’s Culver City studio, located at 10202 Washington Boulevard, hosted the entirety of the stage-based filming for The Wizard of Oz. As part of the Sony Pictures Studio Tour, visitors are allowed to see behind the scenes of the studio and see where the magic happened.
The studio still exists today. Visitors who take a journey to Culver City get their first taste of sunny Southern California, where palm trees decorate the sidewalks and the city’s year-round pleasant climate makes it a perfect setting for filming. The legendary MGM building has a distinctive architecture that makes it stand out from its contemporary surrounds and serves as a reminder of the building’s long and illustrious history.
The activities of Sony Pictures are currently being conducted within the studio itself. Fans who are interested in learning about the history of the studio in its entirety can go on excursions that will take them through the locations where scenes from “The Wizard of Oz” were shot.
Those who are planning a journey along the Yellow Brick Road will find that Liberal, Kansas is every bit as iconic. The small hamlet, which is home to Dorothy’s House and Land of Oz, allows tourists to explore the surrounding area firsthand while immersing themselves in Oz history. tourists may see the real model home that was used in the filming of The Wizard of Oz as well as other memorabilia linked to the film.
Stage 14 (The Wizard of Oz’s Tornado Scene)
- A landmark in film history, the Wizard of Oz’s “Tornado Scene,” in which Dorothy and Toto are swept away by the storm, is one of the most iconic moments in the history of motion pictures. Dorothy begins to make her way back to Kansas with Toto in tow as the winds begin to build up and the approaching tornado draws closer. When Dorothy and Toto have no other option, they seek shelter in her house; however, the powerful winds of the tornado cause them to be blown into the sky as soon as they enter.
- She is suddenly transported from her drab environment to the astonishing, magnificent, perilous, and vibrant realm of Oz. Dorothy’s house crashes down on top of the Wicked Witch of the East, played by Margaret Hamilton, causing her to lose her life.
- The iconic moment was filmed on camera at Sony Pictures Studio Lot Stage 14, which is located at 10202 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, California 90232. Having been built in 1912, it was initially utilized as a studio lot by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer before Lorimar-Telepictures assumed control of it between the years 1986 and 1989. In recent years, it has been more well-known as a filming site for critically acclaimed movies like “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017) and “Blade Runner 2049” (2017).
- The stage is situated 10.7 miles to the west of the downtown area of Los Angeles, and it may be reached by driving either Interstate 10 or the 405 Freeway, then using the Culver Boulevard exit to reach Washington Boulevard. If you are traveling by public transportation, the Venice / Hughes bus stop is conveniently located close by and can be reached by taking Bus 33 from downtown Spring / 6th towards culver city station. It won’t take you more than a few minutes to reach your destination on foot if you start from there.
Stage 27 (The Wizard of Oz’s Munchkinland Scene)
- Margaret Hamilton played the role of the Wicked Witch of the East, who ruled over the land inhabited by the Munchkins. When the Munchkins first saw Dorothy, they suspected that she was a witch much like them. On the other hand, Dorothy is in peril from the Wicked Witch of the West, played once more by Margaret Hamilton and revealed to be the sister of the witch who passed away.
- The sequence from The Wizard of Oz was shot on location at Stage 27 at Sony Pictures Studios, which features a one-of-a-kind split grid setup that simulates the atmosphere of a stadium. The stage also served as a film set. The vast concrete floors encompass a total area of 32,000 square feet, with the low side spanning 50 feet and the high side measuring 80 feet respectively.
- In a later part of the film, we would witness Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, give Dorothy a pair of magical ruby slippers. If Dorothy wants to make it back to Kansas, Glinda suggests that she go to Emerald City and ask the Wizard of Oz for assistance. The song “We’re Off to See the Wizard” signifies the beginning of Dorothy’s adventure down the Yellow Brick Road.
- To access Stage 27, take any kind of public transit, like buses or subway lines, to get to Culver City Station, which is located only one mile away from Stage 27 at Sony Pictures Studio. You can also choose to drive there by taking Interstate 10 from the middle of Los Angeles.
Stages 15, 25, and 26 (The Wizard of Oz’s Scenes from the Apple Orchard, Cornfield, and Emerald City)
- Soon after she sets out on her trip, Dorothy comes upon a cornfield that is home to a talking scarecrow. The scarecrow wishes more than anything else in the world that it had a brain. The scarecrow decides to travel with Dorothy if he can get some assistance from the wizard along the way.
- Numerous filmmakers have pointed to it as a source of motivation because it is such a well-known and influential illustration of how dreamy images may be used to communicate feelings. In a later part of the story, the Wicked Witch of the West presents Dorothy and her traveling companions with several obstacles to overcome on their way to the Emerald City. The witch gives commands to the trees to throw apples at the group, and she also attempts to set fire to the scarecrow.
- In one of the scenes, Dorothy, Toto, the Lion, Tin Woodman, and Scarecrow are taken aback by the incredible beauty of Emerald City. They invested some time in preparing their appearance; Dorothy, Toto, and the Lion all have their hair styled, the Tin Woodman has been polished, and the scarecrow has been stuffed with new straw. The Wicked Witch of the West suddenly appears on her broomstick as they come out of the house appearing nice and spotless. She then writes “Surrender Dorothy” in the sky above the city.
- The sequences that took place in the cornfield, apple orchard, and Emerald City were filmed on Stages 15, 25, and 26, respectively, at Sony Pictures Studio. The Gary Martin Soundstage, also known as Stage 15, was especially spectacular because it was 42,000 square feet, making it one of the largest soundstages in North America. In addition, it served as the setting for “Oz the Great and Powerful,” as well as the film that was released in 1925, which helped to construct the fanciful realm of Oz in which Dorothy would travel.
- If you are coming from San Diego, you will have two choices on how to travel to Sony Pictures Studio: you can either drive there in your vehicle or take public transportation. If you decide to drive, the I-5 North will get you there in about two hours, give or take depending on how congested Los Angeles is. You can also choose to get to Los Angeles by taking the Pacific Surfliner bus, which will get you there in about three hours. From there, take the Metro B line in either the red or purple direction to go to Sony Pictures Studio; the ride should take about 30 minutes.
Stage 29 (The Wizard of Oz’s Scene in the Poppy Field)
- Dorothy, Toto, and even the lion all fall asleep when they enter the poppy field that the witch (Margaret Hamilton) produces close to the city. They are saved by Glinda, who brings on a snowstorm, which counteracts the effects of the poppies. This scene is a monument to the power of Technicolor. It could have been only a few frames taken in black-and-white, but it stands out as one of the most memorable scenes that has ever been captured on film. Technicolor makes this scene possible.
- Stage 29 of the Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, California, served as the location for the scene. Stage 29 is one of the studios owned by Sony Pictures. This stage has since become well-known since it served as the setting for the filming of some of the most iconic movies ever produced in Hollywood, including Ben-Hur, Mutiny on the Bounty, Grand Hotel, Dinner at Eight, and Anna Karenina, among others.
- Tours of the Sony Pictures Studio are available, and they have convenient access to the various stages as well as a pleasant environment. If you would like to see this historic location for yourself, the best place to go is Culver City, which is located about 25 minutes west of the downtown area of Los Angeles. After reaching that point, head in an easterly direction along Washington Boulevard until you arrive at Sony Pictures Studios at Overland Avenue.
Interesting Facts about the Wizard of Oz Film
- There are two separate films titled The Wizard of Oz. The first was a silent picture released in 1925, and it was a mystery why there was no magic in it. Oliver Hardy, of Laurel and Hardy fame, was the actor who played Tin Man.
- Both Shirley Temple, who was the most famous child performer in the United States at the time, and Deanna Durbin were at one point considered for the role of Dorothy in the MGM adaptation.
- W.C. Fields, a popular comedian, was the studio’s first choice to play the Wizard, and he demanded a salary of $100,000 for the part. Fields declined MGM’s counter-offer of $75,000 and walked away from the deal.
- Ray Bolger was at first selected to play the role of the Tin Man; however, he later expressed a desire to play the Scarecrow since he believed the character’s manner would better highlight his physicality and ability to dance. As a result, he was allowed to exchange roles.
- Buddy Ebsen, who would later co-star in the television show Beverly Hillbillies, was cast in the role of the Tin Man initially; but, after a few weeks of filming, he experienced an allergic reaction to the aluminum powder makeup and had to leave the production. Jack Haley was the one to take his place.
- Judy Garland was required to wear a wig for the first two weeks of production because the executives at the studio had initially envisioned Dorothy as a blonde character. However, they ultimately decided to change their minds. Then, to lengthen her hair, a henna rinse was applied to her hair, and she wore a partial wig.
- During the production of Oz, Judy Garland was only 16 years old. Dorothy’s age is not specified in the text of the book by author L. Frank Baum; nonetheless, the character is depicted as a child in the accompanying films. Because of this, Garland was required to wear a corset during filming to maintain the appearance of a young woman with a flat chest.
- There are numerous deviations from the novel that have been made into the movie. The Wicked Witch does not have as significant of a presence in the novel, and she is depicted with an eye patch. The one that stands out the most to everyone else was the prized slippers in the book which was described as being made of silver. For the sake of the film, they were changed to a shade known as ruby since it was believed that this color would look better when rendered in spectacular Technicolor.
- Bert Lahr, who played the role of the Cowardly Lion, received a weekly salary of $2,500, and the terms of his contract guaranteed him a minimum of five weeks of employment. It turned out that he did not require that condition because the shoot ended up taking a total of 26 weeks.
- The movie had a total production budget of approximately $2.78 million, making it MGM’s most expensive film up to that point in time.
- Terry, a female Cairn terrier who was five years old, portrayed Toto in the movie. Carl Spitz, who started Carl Spitz’s Hollywood Dog Training School after immigrating to the United States in 1926 after training military and police dogs in Germany during World War I, was her owner. Carl Spitz trained dogs in Germany throughout the war. He was instrumental in the development of the use of silent hand signals to command dogs, and one of his canine students, Buck St. Bernard, appeared in the film Call of the Wild, starring Clark Gable.
- Terry was supposed to be a house pet for Spitz and his family, but when Clark Gable and some studio officials went to Spitz’s kennel to meet Buck, they were enchanted by Terry, so Spitz decided to train her for the movies instead. Terry made her film debut in “Buck,” starring alongside Gable and the company executives.
- There were as many as one hundred canines evaluated for the part of Toto. Terry’s name was changed to Toto after he appeared in The Wizard of Oz, and the change is permanent.
- There is one more pair of ruby slippers that are patiently awaiting their turn to be shown at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures whenever it opens in Los Angeles. A group of philanthropists with great pockets, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Stephen Spielberg, combined their resources to purchase a pair of shoes. The amount that they paid for the property was not made public, but it is estimated that it was between $2 and $3 million.
- MGM experimented with cartoons as a starting point for the creation of the winged monkeys. The movie designers were dissatisfied with how they looked, so they decided to use little rubber monkeys of varying sizes (some were only a few inches tall) to create a sense of depth. The monkeys were “flown” by wires to make it appear as though they were flying. There were even some human stuntmen on the set.
- Judy Garland was only 16 years old when the role of Dorothy Gale was offered to her in the year 1938. However, the directors of the movie wanted her to have the appearance of a toddler rather than a grown woman. They, therefore, placed her on a stringent diet in the hopes that it would help her get rid of the curves she possessed and give her the appearance of a toddler.
- Garland and her co-stars in The Wizard of Oz were not allowed to sleep during the production of the film. They were given pep pills in cycles to keep them alert and energized during the day, and then they were given medicines at night, when they were finally allowed to sleep, to force them to come down from their euphoric state.
- Sidney Luft, who was married to Judy Garland between the years of 1952 and 1965 and was later accused of intoxication and abuse by the actress, stated that the actors who played the Munchkins enjoyed having a good time and would make Judy’s life unpleasant on set by placing their hands beneath her dress. Sidney Luft was married to Garland between the years 1952 and 1965.
The Wizard of Oz is a movie that manages to leave an indelible mark on viewers even though it was groundbreaking in its day because it was the first feature film to use color, a fact that was very significant at the time it was released.
Judy Garland gave a wonderful performance as Dorothy, successfully portraying a sense of fragility and melancholy via every tone of her voice. The screenplay was not only expertly written, but it was also packed with hilarious and entrancing musical sequences, which kept the audience enthralled and gave the film an exciting atmosphere.