Locals react to the 75th Anniversary of The Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum wrote one of the most popular children’s books of all time. “The Wizard of Oz” was published in 1900. Thirty-nine years later, a burst of color broke through the silver screen when the adaptation of Baum’s beloved book came to life with jovial tunes and nostalgic melodies. Today marks the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz movie, which debuted August 25, 1939. It stars Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale who is swept away from her home in Kansas to the colorful land of Oz, where she meets a menagerie of characters who help her find her way home.
Many have fond memories of the film, which is beloved across generations. Lynee W. Cavins, 21, from Pine Prairie said, “I think The Wizard of Oz is one of the greatest movies of all time and it should be celebrated. I think it should be played in our schools, so kids can see what real talent is.” She said her favorite scene is when the horse changes color in the Emerald City. The other is when Dorothy is in the hot air balloon waving goodbye. She said those scenes were cool for her when shew as a kid. The horse-of-a-different-color scene used several white horses colored with Jell-O powder.
Martha Milligan, 76, from Bunkie said Dorothy was her favorite character. “Because she clicks her shoes,” she said with a laugh. Her favorite scene is when Dorothy is in Munchkinland. The Munchkins were given their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 20, 2007. Only seven of the surviving actors from Munchkinland were present for the dedication.
Lyla Duplechain, 16, from Bunkie, said she loves Dorothy’s ruby slippers. Several pairs of ruby slippers were used for the film. One pair is on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. However, those particular ruby slippers do not match. Their mates are the mismatched pair (left sized 5C, right 5BC) that was stolen from another museum in 2005 and recovered in 2018. In the book, the shoes were silver. They were changed to ruby slippers for the film because the red stood out more with the new Technicolor film process.
Dorothy Knighten Duplechain, 69, from Ville Platte said she liked the whole movie, but “I felt sorry for the cowardly lion. He had no courage.” She said she was happy he found his courage at the end. According to Wikipedia, “The original Courage Medal prop from the 1939 film, a cross-shaped medal made of poly-chromed metal features a lion in profile above a crown and a knight's helmet and the word "Courage" in raised blue scroll lettering. In the late 1950s, Mal Caplan, the head of the costume department at MGM was in a life-threatening automobile accident, and spent months in the hospital before returning to work. For some time he was unable to sit upright and had to work from a chaise longue. In recognition of his courage, his colleagues and the management at MGM presented him with the Cowardly Lion's Courage Medal. He was also given the Tin Man’s "heart", but he gave that to "someone who needed it", a man in the same hospital who was having open heart surgery. The current whereabouts of the heart clock are unknown.”
The Wizard of Oz is the most seen film in movie history, according to the Library of Congress. The famous song “Over the Rainbow” was almost ditched from the movie. Thankfully it was left in, and it has gone down in history as one of the best-known and best-loved songs. It was ranked number one in the American Film Institute’s 100 Years … 100 Songs, and number one in the Recording Industry Association of America’s 365 Songs of the Century. It also won Best Original Song at the 1940 Academy Awards.
The music, costumes, special effects, and use of color were revolutionary at the time. The movie has become a childhood staple, turning adults nostalgic for their childhoods when they see it again or hear the music. Gretchen Frith LaJaunie, 42, from Duson, native of Ville Platte said, “It meant family to me. We watched it every year. I loved the magic it had in letting me feel that I could do anything and no matter what happened, the people who love me would be there.” Indeed, the film has taught people all over the world that “there’s no place like home.”