The Movie - The Legend
Has there ever been a soundtrack release?
The songs from The Movie have been a popular subject for record albums ever since it was released. There were a few different versions in 1939, the most famous being one by Ken Darby and his orchestra, with Judy Garland singing "Over the Rainbow" and "The Jitterbug." This was not a true soundtrack, however, as these were specially recorded sessions for the album, not songs taken directly from The Movie's soundtrack. It was available on record and cassette well into the 1990s, most recently coupled with songs from Walt Disney's Pinocchio, but it is currently unavailable. In conjunction with The Movie's television debut, MGM released a soundtrack album on November 3, 1956, taken directly from The Movie itself, with some dialogue interspersed with the songs to tell the story. This was later expanded upon for a CD release in the late 1980s. In the 1990s the original, unedited film soundtracks were discovered, allowing a true musical soundtrack of The Movie to be released for the first time. Rhino Records issued a deluxe two-CD set in 1995, which includes outtakes, some alternate and rehearsal tracks, the background score, and other extras, as well as an illustrated booklet. Rhino also released a standard one-CD version without the extras in two different packages, one aimed at children. Many of the audio tracks were also released as part of the extras package on the 2005 and 2009 DVD releases. The Lux Radio Theater performed The Wizard of Oz on its Christmas, 1950 edition, with Judy Garland playing Dorothy, and it's been released on record, audiocassette, CD, and for download, and as an audio extra on the 2005 and 2009 DVD releases. And a 1939 edition of the Maxwell House Good News radio show, which featured a number of actors from The Movie and the public debut of its music, has been released on record, audiocassette, and CD (in the latter format with the original Maxwell House commercials, and an extra radio advertisement from MGM), as well as part of the 1999, 2005, and 2009 DVD releases of The Movie.
When was The Movie first shown on American television?
In the early 1950s, MGM began leasing some of its films to individual television stations, but held back some of its biggest films, including Gone with the Wind and The Movie. CBS expressed interest in a national showing of Gone with the Wind, but MGM turned them down. So CBS countered with an offer to show The Movie, MGM accepted, and the television rights were sold for $225,000 each for two showings. The Movie was first shown as part of the Ford Star Jubilee on Saturday, November 3, 1956, and was the first theatrical movie ever shown on national television. The broadcast was introduced by Bert Lahr, Judy Garland's ten-year-old daughter Liza Minnelli, and thirteen-year-old Oz collector Justin Schiller, who had loaned CBS a first edition of the book for Lahr to read to Minnelli on air. (Schiller would go on to found IWOC two months later.) It was watched by an estimated audience of forty-five million. CBS next showed The Movie on December 13, 1959, and from then on it was shown every season on CBS until 1967, when NBC acquired the film for the next eight showings. CBS got it back again in 1976, and showed it on average once a year after that. Before the advent of cable and videotape, The Movie was regularly one of the highest rated shows of the season, and often the highest rated movie, rarely slipping out of the top twenty for the week it was shown. In 1998, The Movie was shown on network television for an unprecedented thirty-ninth time, but this would also be the last for some time. When that contract expired, the rights reverted to Time Warner (see the question Who owns The Movie now?), who decided to show it on their own cable channels. The Movie made its first cable showing on Superstation TBS in November of 1999, and has been shown without commercials on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) nearly every July, beginning in 2000. In November 2000 it also debuted on another Warner Bros. network, TNT, and it returned to broadcast television in 2002 with a holiday season showing on the WB network until 2005. (The WB was merged with UPN to become the CW network in 2006.) Since these debuts, The Movie has become an annual holiday event on TBS and TNT, shown on both stations in late November or early December. It made its debut on another Warner Bros. station, Cartoon Network, in April of 2011. (An interesting side note: The Movie was not the first Oz movie shown on television. The 1925 silent version of The Wizard of Oz was shown over three nights on early television station W2XCD in Passaic, New Jersey, June 8, 9, and 10, 1931 — eight years before The Movie was released to theaters!)
When has The Movie been shown on American television?
At first The Movie was a Christmas movie, shown in December. Gradually, however, showings got pushed further back, until it became an Easter staple. For a very long time it was shown in the spring, but in later years CBS showed it around Thanksgiving as well. Now that it is on cable, it seems that it will regularly be shown in July on TCM, in November or December on TBS and TNT (as it was on the WB), and in the spring on Cartoon Network.
For those who really want to delve into the trivia, here are the dates of all of the United States showings of The Movie that I could find, and what network showed it then:
- November 3, 1956, CBS
- December 13, 1959, CBS
- December 11, 1960, CBS
- December 10, 1961, CBS
- December 9, 1962, CBS
- January 26, 1964, CBS
- January 17, 1965, CBS
- January 9, 1966, CBS
- February 12, 1967, CBS
- April 20, 1968, NBC
- March 9, 1969, NBC
- March 15, 1970, NBC
- April 18, 1971, NBC
- March 7, 1972, NBC
- April 8, 1973, NBC
- March 10, 1974, NBC
(This was originally scheduled for February 24, but breaking news about Watergate pushed back the schedule. Rather than cut off the beginning of the movie or show it later in the evening, NBC chose to reschedule it.)
- March 30 (Easter), 1975, NBC
- March 14, 1976, CBS
- March 20, 1977, CBS
- March 26 (Easter), 1978, CBS
- March 23, 1979, CBS
- March 7, 1980, CBS
- February 27, 1981, CBS
- March 27, 1982, CBS
- March 18, 1983, CBS
- March 30, 1984, CBS
- March 1, 1985, CBS
- February 15, 1986, CBS
- March 6, 1987, CBS
- February 24, 1988, CBS
- March 19, 1989, CBS
- February 20, 1990, CBS
- March 19, 1991, CBS
- November 27, 1991, CBS
- February 26, 1993, CBS
- November 11, 1993, CBS
- November 23, 1994, CBS
- May 10, 1996, CBS
- May 8, 1998, CBS
- November 21, 1999, TBS
- July 3, 2000, TCM
- November 19 and 25, 2000, TNT
- July 4, 2001, TCM
- December 1 and 2, 2001, TNT
- July 4, 2002, TCM
- November 24, 2002, The WB
- November 28, 2002, TBS
- December 8, 13, and 25, 2002, TNT
- July 5 and 6, 2003, TCM
- November 16 and 21, 2003, TBS
- December 7, 2003, The WB
- December 13 and 14, 2003, TNT
- July 2 and 3, 2004, TCM
- November 19, 20, and 24, 2004, TBS
- December 8 and 12, 2004, TNT
- December 19, 2004, The WB
- July 3 and 4, 2005, TCM
- November 11, 12, and 13, 2005, TBS
- December 3, 10, and 18, 2005, TNT
- December 18, 2005, The WB
- July 3 and 4, 2006, TCM
- November 10, 11, and 12, 2006, TBS (The Movie's first television showings in high definition)
- December 11 and 17, 2006, TNT
- June 3, 2007, TCM
- November 9, 10, and 11, 2007, TBS
- November 9 and 25, 2007, TNT
- March 21 and 22, 2008, TCM
- July 27, 2008, TNT
- December 20 and 21, 2008, TNT
- July 2 and 3, 2009, TCM
- September 27, 2009, TBS
- November 13, 14, 15, and 22, 2009, TBS
- December 19, 20, and 27, 2009, TNT
- July 2 and 3, 2010, TCM
- November 26, 27, and 28, 2010, TBS
- December 17 and 18, 2010, TNT
- December 25, 2010, TBS
- February 12, 2011, TCM (as part of their annual "31 Days of Oscar" event)
- April 17, 2011, TBS
- April 24-25, 2011, Cartoon Network
- November 4-6, 2011, TBS
- December 17-18, 2011, TNT
- March 24 and 25, 2012, Cartoon Network
- June 10, 2012, TCM (as part of TCM's celebration of Judy Garland's ninetieth birthday)
- November 18 and 25, 2012, TBS
- December 22 and 23, 2012, TNT
- March 30 and 31, 2013, Cartoon Network
- April 22, TCM
For more details, you may want to read the article "The Wizard of Oz on Television".
Why is it being shown on cable now?
Because the current owners (see the question Who owns The Movie now?) own cable channels. Naturally they'd rather show it on one of their own channels than share the advertising revenues with another broadcaster. More and more, cable has become the home for movies on television, and The Wizard of Oz is just one of them. It's still a special event, with only two or three annual showings on TCM, usually in early July, and during the holiday season on commercial cable.
Who have been the hosts for the television broadcasts?
Until more time was needed to show commercials, each showing had a host to introduce The Movie. Besides Lahr, Minnelli and Schiller in 1956 (see the question When was The Movie first shown on American television?), the hosts have been Red Skelton and his daughter Valentina in 1959, Richard Boone, the star of Have Gun Will Travel, and his son Peter in 1960, Dick Van Dyke and his children in 1961 and 1962, and Danny Kaye from 1964 to 1967 (the 1964 segments were taped and repeated for the following three showings). The 1970 broadcast, the first since Judy Garland's death, was prefaced by a brief tribute to Garland by Gregory Peck. And in 1990 and 1996, Angela Lansbury hosted a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Movie and its lasting popularity. This and other specials have also been shown in conjunction with the cable showings on TNT and TCM. The showings on TCM have been hosted by the channel's regular host, Robert Osborn, with the exception of 2007, when it was hosted by Tom Kenny, the voice of Spongebob Squarepants, as part of a summer series of family movies. Noted Oz and Judy Garland researcher John Fricke co-hosted with Osborn for the June 2012 broadcast, as part of TCM's salute to Garland on her ninetieth birthday.
Is The Movie shown on TV in other countries?
While it seems not to have quite gripped the collective imagination abroad as it has in America, The Movie has been a staple on television in other countries, such as Canada (shown on the CBC), Great Britain (shown on the BBC), and Australia. (If anyone in other countries would like to give me more information about how and when it's shown, please contact me. I'd love to include this information in this FAQ.)
How many American video releases have there been?
Several. The Movie is one of the all-time best selling movies on home media in America, and it has been issued in a number of different packages. There have been at least four different versions of The Movie on VHS tape. The initial release, in the early 1980s, was pretty straightforward, with just The Movie. In 1989, to commemorate The Movie's fiftieth anniversary, a new edition was released, with the Kansas sequences rendered in sepia, and about twenty minutes of extra behind-the-scenes footage added at the end. This included Arlen's home movies of "The Jitterbug," Bolger's extended "If I Only Had a Brain" dance, film of Garland and Mickey Rooney at the 1940 Oscars ceremony, and some early publicity film, with Buddy Ebsen still playing the Tin Woodman. The original packaging for this edition included a booklet of behind-the-scenes information, which was dropped in later issues. In 1993, Turner Home Entertainment released a deluxe collector's edition, The Ultimate Oz, that included a new cleaned-up print of The Movie; a second cassette with the 1990 Angela Lansbury documentary, including extra material not shown on television, and more behind-the-scenes footage, including test film of the actors and special effects; a hardbound copy of the script; and a folio of publicity photographs. A new video edition, with a digitally restored picture and soundtrack remastered in THX, was released in late 1996, which in 1997 became one of the first movies ever released on DVD. This first North American DVD release includes soundtracks and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, but no other extras. The digitally restored Special Edition seen in theaters was released on VHS video in 1999, both as a stand-alone single tape and on two tapes (the second tape included the Angela Lansbury special and other footage, much of it similar to what was in The Ultimate Oz). This version was also released on DVD, again in both standard and gift sets. This second DVD edition includes the same extras as on the second videotape and a number of DVD exclusives. The gift set includes the script book and photographs. In 2005, The Movie was again released on DVD (but, for the first time, not on VHS), this time in two- and three-disk sets. Besides yet another restored version and the many extras already released in earlier versions, this editions features a commentary track by noted Oz historian John Fricke, a music and effects only soundtrack, and new made-for-DVD documentaries. The third disk in the three-DVD set includes many old black-and-white silent Oz movies and the 1933 cartoon, and a documentary on L. Frank Baum, as well as some reproduced print materials. All this was available on the latest DVD release, in 2009 for the seventieth anniversary; new (on at least some editions) were a documentary on director Victor Fleming and the 1990 television movie The Dreamer of Oz, the life story of Oz author L. Frank Baum.
There is a rumor out there that a "rare" black-and-white-only video is available that shows the alleged "hanging man." There has never been a black-and-white release of The Movie is any format or medium. The rumor might refer to the Kansas scenes in the first video release, however. But there's still no hanging man in it.
Five different editions have also been released on videodisk, most with a separate audio program on the second sound channel. One from Criterion in the early 1980s included an inaccurate commentary from film historian Ron Haver, and was the first release since The Movie's premiere to show the Kansas scenes in sepia. Many of the extra features were later released on the 1989 VHS edition. Another laserdisk from MGM at roughly the same time came with an audio track that had been found without most of the dialogue for use in foreign dubbed versions. This soundtrack is now available on the 2005 DVD release. An edition from Turner in the disk version of The Ultimate Oz included better, more accurate commentary by Oz historian John Fricke, since updated for the 2005 DVD release. One version also had Spanish and French soundtracks on two different channels.
What's this I hear about the Ruby Slippers being auctioned off for a lot of money?
Dorothy's shoes from The Movie have gone on to be one of the most famous and recognized pieces of movie costuming — and the most sought after, considering how much money pairs have fetched at auction. The first pair auctioned off was at MGM's studio auction in 1970, when they went for $15,000. This pair now belongs to the Smithsonian Institution, and toured America in the 1990s as part of the Smithsonian's 150th anniversary celebration. Since then, other pairs have turned up. Like other Hollywood costumes, there was more than one pair of Ruby Slippers — and Bobbie Koshay, Garland's stand-in, had a different shoe size, meaning some had to be made to fit her as well. At least five pairs are known to exist, and they have fetched higher and higher prices at auctions. The last pair known to be sold went for $660,000 at Christie's auction house in New York City in 2000. This pair, by the way, had been given away as a contest prize in 1939, and the winner had kept them for nearly fifty years before putting them up for auction. The first auction for this pair of Ruby Slippers, in 1988, brought a price of $165,000, and the buyer put them on display at the Disney-MGM Studio park at Walt Disney World before putting them up for auction again. In June 2011, Debbie Reynolds sold her extensive Hollywood memorabilia collection at auction, which included a test pair of ruby slippers that were not actually used in The Movie. The final price for this "Arabian" pair of ruby slippers was $510,000, but that was beaten by a Dorothy dress in the same auction that sold for $910,000.
Where are the Ruby Slippers now? Can I go see them?
One pair is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC (although they're currently on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London as part of a movie memorabilia exhibit). In fact, that's one of the Smithsonian's most popular attractions. One pair has been displayed at times at the Philip Samuels Gallery in St. Louis, Missouri. A test pair with a different design that never appeared in The Movie was on exhibit at Debbie Reynolds' movie memorabilia museum in Las Vegas, but Reynolds auctioned off her collection in the summer of 2011. Another pair may also be in Las Vegas, at the Planet Hollywood in the Caesar's Palace hotel. One pair often goes on tour to shopping malls. One pair, owned by a private collector in California, is locked away in a safe deposit box. This may be the pair that was stolen during the Judy Garland Festival in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in the summer of 2005. Finally, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bought a pair in 2012 in anticipation of opening its own museum in the near future.
Where are the other costumes? Can I go see them?
Most of the surviving costumes from The Movie are now in private hands, and are not generally on display. One of the few exceptions is one of the Scarecrow costumes, which was donated to the Smithsonian Institution by Ray Bolger.
Is it true that Ted Turner wants to colorize the Kansas sequences?
Ted Turner, the Atlanta television mogul who launched TBS, TNT, CNN, and other cable channels, became the owner of The Movie when he bought MGM's library in the 1980s. He then immediately negotiated a deal with CBS, extending their rights to show The Movie through 1998, in exchange for the television rights to his all-time favorite film, Gone with the Wind, which CBS also held at the time. While Turner has caused a stir among movie purists with his use of modern technology to add color to previously black-and-white films, he has stated that The Movie must have its Kansas scenes in black-and-white. In fact, Turner should be commended by Oz and movie fans for restoring the original sepia tones to the Kansas sequences, which had previously only been seen during the film's early theatrical releases. Besides, the whole idea of colorizing movies seems to have been a fad, as very little has been done about it of late. Nowadays, movie fans are much more knowledgeable and vocal, and thus movies are generally shown as close as possible to their original forms. Some movies are shown in letterboxed format, with black bars at the top and bottom, to simulate widescreen presentations, for example, and movies are sometimes shown in a longer time slot. In recent years, broadcasts of The Movie have lasted two hours and ten minutes or longer, so as to preserve the original film as much as possible yet still show enough commercials to make some money, just to give one example.
Is The Movie on the National Film Registry?
In 1988, in response to colorization and other alterations made to movies, several prominent filmmakers lobbied the United States Congress to do something to preserve their rights as artists and the integrity of the original films. While Congress couldn't actually come out and make these changes illegal, they did establish the National Film Preservation Board (http://www.loc.gov/film/), and a National Film Registry, administered by the Library of Congress. Every year, twenty-five American movies are added to the list as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. A pristine, unaltered print of each movie is preserved by the Library of Congress for posterity, and broadcasters and video producers are requested, but not required, to state that a film on the registry has been altered and in what way if shown in a different form. The first year that films were announced for the registry was 1989, and among them was The Movie. Other films added to the registry that year include Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Grapes of Wrath, High Noon, The Maltese Falcon, Singin' in the Rain, On the Waterfront, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard, Star Wars — and, of course, Gone with the Wind. You can find out more about the National Film Registry at http://www.loc.gov/film/filmnfr.html and http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/clamen/misc/movies/NFR-Titles.html.
Where does The Movie rank on the AFI's Top 100 list?
In 1998, to celebrate the first century of American filmmaking, the American Film Institute polled movie makers, film historians, and others to come up with the top one hundred American films up to that time. The list debuted on a CBS television special. This list became an annual tradition, with varying topics, until 2008. Naturally, The Wizard of Oz, being such an iconic Hollywood film, was a part of many of the lists. So, here's where Oz and its stars ended up (with links to the entire list):
- 100 Years...100 Movies (1998) saw The Movie come in at number 6.
- 100 Years...100 Stars (1999) had fifty of today's top stars honoring fifty stars of the classic years of Hollywood, split into two lists of twenty-five actors and twenty-five actresses. In the latter list, Judy Garland came in at number 8, while Oz fan and 1960 television Ozma and Tip Shirley Temple was at number 18.
- 100 Years...100 Thrills (2001) has The Wizard of Oz ranked at number 43.
- 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains (2003) had two lists, of the top fifty heroes and villains. The Wicked Witch of the West came in at number 4 on the villains list.
- 100 Years...100 Songs (2004) had two Oz numbers:
- "Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead" at number 82
- "Over the Rainbow" topping the list at number 1 (not bad for a song that was almost cut!)
- 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes netted The Wizard of Oz three spots:
- "I'll get you, my pretty! And your little dog, too!" at number 99
- "There's no place like home." at number 23
- "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." (a misquote; it's actually, "I have a feeling we're not in Kansas any more.") at number 4
- 100 Years of Musicals (2006), which was not shown on television, ranked the twenty-five greatest American musicals. The Wizard of Oz came in at number 3, with two more Judy Garland films also making the top ten: A Star is Born at number 7, and Meet Me in St. Louis at number 10.
- 100 Years...100 Cheers (2006), for movies that inspire, saw The Wizard of Oz come in at number 26.
- 100 Years...100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition (2007) revisited the AFI's original list. The Wizard of Oz slipped to number 10.
- 10 Top Ten (2008) broke the list up into lists of ten in ten different film genres. The Wizard of Oz was the number one fantasy film on that list.
For more information on all of the AFI's 100 Years... lists, see http://www.afi.com/100years/.
What other "best of" movie lists have recognized The Movie?
Quite a few, as you can imagine. Here are some:
- In 1995, to celebrate one hundred years of cinema, the Vatican released a list of forty-five movies with religious, value, or artistic significance. The Wizard of Oz was listed in the latter category.
- A 1998 issue of TV Guide magazine listed "The 50 Greatest Movies on TV and Video". The Wizard of Oz came in at number four. The only movies ahead of it (at the time) were Citizen Kane (#3), Casablanca (#2), and The Godfather, Part II at the top. And for once, The Wizard of Oz beat Gone with the Wind, which was only at twenty-eight.
- In 2005, the British Film Institute (BFI) compiled a list of the fifty films you should see by the age of fourteen. The list was not ranked or numbered, but The Wizard of Oz was listed in the top ten.
- At least some editions of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list The Wizard of Oz. However, as there have now been eleven editions of this book, and I haven't had the chance to review them all, one can't assume that that has always been the case.
- In 2008 Empire magazine unveiled their list of the five hundred greatest movies of all time. The Wizard of Oz came in at #172.
- In 2011, ABC and People magazine put together a television special, Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time, voted on by the public. The Wizard of Oz was the number three Best Musical (behind The Sound of Music at the top, and Grease second), and behind only Gone with the Wind in the Best Film category.
- The February/March 2013 issue of Scholastic's Parent and Child magazine created a list of the 100 Greatest Movies for Kids. The Wizard of Oz was at the very top of that list.
Who owns The Movie now?
Okay, let's see if we can keep this straight. For a long time, of course, The Movie was owned by MGM — actually, by the studio's parent company, Loews, Inc. — since they made it. In 1948, the United States Supreme Court ruled that theater chains owning production studios constituted illegal monopolies. As a result, MGM was spun off from Loews and became its own company in 1956, and it retained the rights to The Movie. After MGM fell on hard times, Kirk Kerkorian bought it in 1969. He was responsible for selling off most of the land, the 1970 auction that included the first auction of a pair of Ruby Slippers, and using much of those assets to build the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Kerkorian sold MGM to Ted Turner in 1986, and Turner, saddled with debts, turned around and sold just the studio back to Kerkorian a few weeks later while retaining the rights to hundreds of old MGM and RKO movies, including The Movie and his all-time favorite film, Gone with the Wind. In 1995, Turner merged his media empire with Time Warner. This is why The Movie has been shown on Time Warner-owned networks in recent years (TBS, TNT, TCM, the WB, Cartoon Network), and why Warner Bros. is marketing a lot of Movie-based merchandise. So the current owner of The Movie is Turner Entertainment, which is a Time Warner subsidiary company, and distribution is handled by Warner Bros.
Where can I find other fans of The Movie?
Many fans of the Oz books are also fans of The Movie, and Movie fans sometimes become fans of the books. So if you can find Oz fans in general (see the sections on Oz fans and On on your computer of this FAQ), you can probably find fans of The Movie. There may be options available through (TMOHH) the links page of the WWOOW. Take a look at http://thewizardofoz.info/wiki/The_famous_film_version, there is a whole set of links devoted just to The Movie there. If you are familiar with Usenet newsgroups, there is one set up for The Movie, alt.movies.wizard-of-oz (http://groups.google.com/group/alt.movies.wizard-of-oz), but it seems nobody is visiting it.