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The Flaws of Oz

You've seen the movie dozens of times, maybe more. "The Wizard of Oz" is a family classic, and around our household it's a favorite movie. We love to be frightened by the monkeys, we love to be enchanted by the Scarecrow, but have you taken a close look? Your classic favorite has a few flaws…

 In the Emerald City, the purple version of the Horse of a Different Color seems to be trying its darnedest to lick the color off (the horses were all colored with Jell-O).
In the Emerald City, the purple version of the Horse of a Different Color seems to be trying its darnedest to lick the color off (the horses were all colored with Jell-O).
Warner Bros
My friend Dorothy Barrett is the girl in green on the left.
Warner Bros.

The best way to see “The Wizard of Oz” is on the big screen. That is where I first saw the giant storks in the background when there was a nasty and ridiculous urban legend that it was a man hanging in the background (created by someone who was obviously watching it every year on a black-and-white TV). That’s when you actually will go “Oooh!” when Dorothy transforms from black-and-white to color in Oz. You really haven’t seen this movie, until you’ve seen it on the big screen.

If you’re in Hollywood this weekend, you can see it at the TCM Classic Film Festival, where you can see The Wizard of Oz on IMAX 3D on Sunday, April 13 at the Chinese Theatre in the heart of Hollywood. The $30 ticket price is worth it, it really is. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

What Flaws of Oz have you seen? Weigh in by adding your ideas to the COMMENTS below. Also heck out the photo gallery for some, and the video below of some funny mistakes.

I am fortunate enough to befriend longtime Studio City resident (and acting teacher) Dorothy Barrett, who was in The Wizard of Oz. She was one of the girls escorting Dorothy and her entourage through the palace singing “scrub-scrub-scrub, snip-snip-snip” in the “merry ol’ Land of Oz” in the movie. (See the photos).

No matter how many times you’ve seen this classic, it is not flawless. And, maybe there’s something here that will surprise you.

One of the first flaws at the opening of the film, is when Dorothy runs up to Auntie Em who is counting chicks from an incubator and Uncle Henry is collecting them in his hat. Em counts, "Sixty-seven, sixty-eight, sixty-nine," putting them in her apron as Dorothy babbles on. But Em isn't too good at counting because she puts four chicks in her apron and takes one from Dorothy and snaps, "Seventy!" The count should be 74.

After moving 70 baby chicks, you'd think there would be a few splotches on Em's apron and in Henry's hat. Yet, Henry is wearing his hat when Miss Gulch storms in and Em passes out crullers without any time to wash her hands. Dorothy takes one, but it disappears somewhere while singing "Over the Rainbow."

During Dorothy’s song, notice how loyal mutt Toto is more interested in something off-screen; even to the point of holding up his paw while Dorothy's back is turned. Also, the girl’s makeup is different throughout the number. (This Academy Award winning song, by the way, was almost axed by studio execs who were later convinced it would be a good moment for bored viewers to get up to buy more popcorn and soda.)

Just after, when Dorothy falls into a pig pen and doesn't get a speck of mud on her, it’s obvious her dress is made from the same material as Em's apron.
When Dorothy meets Professor Marvel (the Wizard), he is cooking hot dogs. If they were over the fire as they should be, Toto would never be able to swipe one from the stick. Marvel pops another frank on the end of the same stick, unconcerned about dog germs. (The impressive cloudy sky behind the professor’s caravan is the same one used for Tara in Gone With the Wind when Ashley is splitting logs on the hill.)

As he peers into his crystal ball, Marvel rummages through Dorothy's basket for a picture so he can amaze her with his mind-readings. He steals her photograph. Watch closely. He slips it under his left thigh and never returns it. He tells Dorothy about a barn, a farm, a weather vane and a horse running around—none of which are in the photo he steals of Dorothy and Aunt Em.

The twister plays strange tricks. As Dorothy opens the front door it blows off, but the flower pot hanging above her head hardly sways. Inside, a rocking chair rocks violently, but a few feet away a kettle remains motionless on the stove. And, as the tornado sucks the house up, a thin notebook and delicate bottles remain in tact on a table near the window that has just blown in—without glass. When the house lands, blankets are still neatly folded on the bed. And notice the wallpaper: poppies.

Then, she utters perhaps the biggest understatement of any movie: "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." And, without a moment's hesitation she concludes they must be "Over the Rainbow" as opposed to, perhaps, Missouri.

Glinda pops in and says the Munchkins called her. They must have Sprint. The Good Witch's first question is: "Are you a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?" Then, Glinda explains only bad witches are ugly. Dorothy should have been offended that Glinda couldn't tell.

Glinda is arguably the most evil character in this movie. She hides behind Dorothy when the Wicked Witch of the West appears. She saddles Dorothy with ruby slippers which clash with everything she’s wearing and then warns the confused girl, "You've made a bad enemy of the Wicked Witch of the West. The sooner you get out of Oz all together, the safer you'll sleep my dear." Then, the alleged Good Witch says, "The only person who could help is the Wizard of Oz" and as Dorothy asks a question, Glinda floats away in her bubble.

(It's not until the end of the movie that Glinda tells Dorothy she just had to click her heels three times to get away. Dorothy could have gone home right there in Munchkinland and not had this green witch trying to kill her. She should’ve kicked Glinda three times in the shins.)

When Dorothy first spots the Scarecrow, he doesn't move his lips for the first few lines. Throughout the movie Dorothy's pigtails get longer and shorter and her ribbons are tied different ways, but the most obvious time is during her singing with the Scarecrow. Watch closely, it's very funny.

With the Tin Man, at the end of the song, “If I Only Had a Heart," the metal man’s oil can falls out of Dorothy's basket, and she loses it. Yet, it miraculously appears in the next scene.

In a close-up just after the Witch appears in the woods, straw is coming out of the wrong side of the Scarecrow and the Tin Man's hat is pointing the wrong way, showing that the negative was flipped.

The scene is somewhat fuzzy. This is where a scene was cut when the Witch threatens to make a beehive out of the Tin Man bees were buzzing from the Tin Man's funnel, ears and mouth after she makes the threat. Because the characters were suddenly switched, the negative was flipped for continuity.

That continuity was lost when it came to Toto, however. During the Scarecrow song, the dog magically catapults from side to side during the dance, and when the Tin Man leans from side to side during his song, the dog materializes on various sides of the screen instantly again.

The Lion crawls on all fours at first, but he's quickly on his hind legs for the rest of the film. Watch his feet. He often comes close to stepping on poor Toto. He also doesn’t move his lips during parts of his “King of the Forest” song.

And, Judy Garland had a hard time not laughing while filming the scolding scene with the Lion. When he asks, "Is my nose bleeding?" she is about to burst out laughing and can't suppress a smile. That was the best of a bunch of botched takes.

As the gang waits for the Wizard, they vandalize his front porch. They pull up two carpets during the Lion's song "If I Were King of the Forest." The Tin Man breaks a flower pot with his ax to make a crown for the Lion. Later, the crown falls and bounces like a rubber ball rather than shattering.

As they head out to get the Witch's broomstick, they pass a sign reading "Witches Castle"—which must have made English teachers squirm. It should be "Witch's Castle."

Ten scriptwriters had input into this movie and so many changes were made that some lines don't make sense. The best example is when the Witch sends her flying monkeys to get Dorothy in the Haunted Forest and says, "I've sent a little insect along ahead to take the fight out of them." In Frank Baum's book, Dorothy and her friends meet up with a giant spider.

But, the Witch was referring to the "Jitterbug”—an upbeat dance sequence with Dorothy and the cast which took five weeks to shoot but was cut after the initial public preview. The line, however, was never deleted and doesn’t make any sense.

By the way, the Witch’s Winkie guards aren’t chanting "All we own, we owe her," or "Oh we love (or loathe) the old one," outside the castle. The original screenplay puts it plainly. They’re saying, “O-Ee-Yah! Eoh-Ah!"

And, Dorothy isn't as innocent in the Witch liquidation as she seems. The Witch begs her not to throw it, and Dorothy unnecessarily splashes the water all over everyone as she aims for the flaming Scarecrow.

One of the dumbest lines in the movie is after Dorothy asks the Witch's soldier if she can have the broomstick and he says, "Please, and take it with you." What is she supposed to do with it? Sweep up the Witch and leave it in a closet? Notice, this broomstick is a bit singed and uneven, quiet different from the cleaned-up one that she presents the Wizard.

Note closely also that when Toto reveals the Wizard behind the curtain, the poor pooch isn't pulling it opened with his teeth, but is in fact caught on the curtain with his collar. The dog looks like it’s struggling a bit.

When the Wizard uses his big words as he reaches into his bag of goodies, he calls the Scarecrow "pusillanimous." He perhaps means that word for the Lion. It means "cowardly."

And when the Scarecrow is given his brains he pipes up with a geometric formula: "The sum of the square root of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side." Wrong. The sum of the squares of two sides are equal to the square of the hypotenuse.

The Tin Man lets the Wizard's balloon take off without Dorothy. Watch very carefully because it's hard to catch. Just after Toto chases after the cat, everyone sees Dorothy climb out of the balloon. But, that sly hunk of metal is holding onto the rope of the balloon and when no one is looking he purposely unleashes the balloon even more, preventing Dorothy from going home. It's no wonder that when Dorothy finally leaves she plays favorites and tells the Scarecrow, "I think I'll miss you most of all."

In Baum's book, the trip to Oz is meant to have really happened, but the movie belittles the adventure as simply a dream. And Aunt Em snaps, "We dream lots of silly thing when we—" She never finishes. When we what? When we get hit in the head by a window in a tornado?

Aunt Em seems rather harsh to Dorothy upon her return, and yet the whole time away, the girl was screaming to come home to Aunt Em. So, it serves her right that Aunt Em (played by Clara Blandick) gets a lower billing in the final credits than Nikko the Flying Monkey (who’s name isn’t ever mentioned in the film).

Aunt Em’s credit comes right before Toto's.

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