The Wizard of Oz is a timeless classic, cherished by generations, but what you might not know are the intriguing secrets hidden in the film’s production. These behind-the-scenes stories of The Wizard of Oz shed light on the incredible efforts and sacrifices made by the cast and crew to create a cinematic masterpiece! Here are they!
Toto’s Big Paycheck
The actors who portrayed the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz were not treated as well as their canine co-star, Toto—at least not when it came to payday.
Each Munchkin received a meager $50 weekly for six days of work. In contrast, the adorable dog playing Toto earned a generous $125 weekly. Do you remember a time when dogs were paid almost three times as much as their peers? Now you do.
Dorothy’s Ever-Changing Hair
If you pay close attention, you’ll notice a peculiar detail about Judy Garland’s magical haircut.
Throughout the film, her hair mysteriously changes length. At times, it’s barely brushing her collarbone, but by the end, it cascades down to her chest. How did the editors manage such an incredible feat?
Toto’s Gender Swap
Toto was originally portrayed by a female. But a behind-the-scenes injury meant a desperate casting decision needed to be made.
During the production, the real Toto got hurt, leading to a temporary replacement with a male stunt double for two weeks while she recovered. The stun-double was named, apparently, Terry.
The Lion’s Heavy Costume
The actor behind the Cowardly Lion, Bert Lahr, had his fair share of challenges—after all, his costume was made out of real lion skin! Talk about an expensive outfit.
Alas, the lion skin made the outfit uncomfortably hot, and weighed nearly 100 pounds. It’s no wonder that he might not have felt like much of a “king” in that attire. We’d lack courage too.
Judy Garland’s Secret Corset
As for Judy Garland, she wore a tight corset beneath her iconic dress to make her look younger and smaller.
The purpose of this unusual choice was to give her a more childlike figure. At the time of filming, she was 16 years old, but the filmmakers wanted her to portray a character between the ages of 12-14. So, 13.
The Technicolor Dress
Dorothy’s iconic blue and white dress isn’t exactly what it appears. The white in the dress was actually pale pink!
The reason for this was the film’s use of technicolor, where pink appeared as a brighter white. It’s a fascinating secret hidden in plain sight.
Wicked Witch’s Liquid Diet
Margaret Hamilton, the actress behind the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, also had her share of challenges. Her makeup was copper-based and a bright green color, which made it toxic if ingested. So, she couldn’t eat while in makeup!
Consequently, she couldn’t eat food during filming and was restricted to consuming only liquids. Her infamous green makeup not only kept her from enjoying a regular meal but also caused severe skin burns during a harrowing on-set incident. While filming the scene where the witch departs Munchkinland amid smoke and fire, something went wrong, resulting in the actress sustaining painful burns.
At the recent 76th Cannes Film Festival, director Martin Scorsese’s highly anticipated film Killers of the Flower Moon had its premiere. The film, based on David Grann’s best-selling book, has a runtime of 3 hours and 26 minutes. Although rumored to be nearly four hours long, it is not the longest feature to debut at Cannes, even at its current length. In this context, let’s delve into the retrospective journey of long films on the big screen.
Longest Films in Cannes History
The Italian historical drama The Best of Youth, which premiered at Cannes in 2003, holds the record for the longest film shown at the festival, with a runtime of 366 minutes. The Chinese documentary Dead Souls, showcased in 2018, runs an astonishing 495 minutes.
Early Epic Long Films
D.W. Griffith’s silent epic The Birth of a Nation in 1915 is known for its technological advancements in storytelling, but its length also attracted attention with a runtime of 193 minutes. After the dominance of sound films in the 1930s, many movies had runtimes of around 90 minutes, with some shorter films even lasting 70 minutes. Epics of the late ’50s and early ’60s, such as Ben-Hur, Giant, Spartacus, How the West Was Won, and Lawrence of Arabia sought to captivate audiences with their grandeur and used overtures and intermissions to enhance the experience. Longer films were then seen as a way to compete against TV’s emerging threat, along with more immersive formats like Cinerama.
Film Length Preferences
The notion that films should be around two hours long persisted for a long time. During the video store era, most commercial releases were between 90 and 120 minutes, with longer runtimes reserved for prestige pictures released during the awards season. However, the rise of streaming platforms and the binge-watching trend have shifted viewers’ preferences, making them more accustomed to relatively longer narratives.
In recent years, films have surpassed the two-hour mark more frequently. Improved cinema amenities and the popularity of serialized narratives on TV have contributed to audiences’ willingness to engage with longer films. Celebrated directors like Martin Scorsese and James Cameron, known for complex storytelling, have made use of longer runtimes to delve into intricate subjects and immersive visuals without sacrificing viewer engagement. The evolving viewing habits of audiences, along with advancements in cinema technology, have made longer runtimes more feasible and appealing. As the landscape of filmmaking continues to evolve, it’ll be interesting to see if long movies will become the new norm in the future.