Saturday, September 21, 2013

Don't Mess With the Wizard of Oz!

The Wizard of Oz was released in1939, a year before I was born. The movie was a wonderful cinematic event,  a movie that began in black and white and changed to color. It also included a perfect set of characters, as we all still know and love today. It received an Oscar  nomination for  Best Picture of 1939, but it lost out to the grand Civil War epic, Gone With the Wind.

Today, in September 2013, seventy-four years later, film producers have converted The Wizard of Oz to 3D. Frankly, I don't want to watch anything in 3D.

Why mess with a perfect movie?

At around age ten or eleven, I think, Mother allowed me and my younger sister go to the movie theater to see The Wizard of Oz. Yes, it was several years old, as was I, but what did that matter? Today, the seventy-four year old movie still holds the allure it did back then.  Making it into 3D won't make it any better.

When my little sister and I settled in the theater and waited for the movie to begin, I couldn't wait to see a film in color. Before this, we had gone to the Rose Theater to watch Saturday Afternoon Matinees starring Western cowboys--Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Lash LaRue, Hopalong Cassidy, and the Lone Ranger.

The movie began with a grand entrance, but all in black and white. I watched with great intensity, waiting for the color to begin. But it didn't. After a while, through my near-sighted eyes, I squinted. Maybe I saw a little color.

I punched my little sister's arm. "Do you see color?" No, she said. I told her , squint your eyes. I think I see color when I do that.

Well, we convinced each other this was true. But when the real color came on the screen, I almost fell out of my seat. From then on, I sat forward on the edge of the seat to make sure I didn't miss anything.

However, being a natural born fraidy cat, the flying monkeys scared me silly, and I curled up in the seat and closed my eyes.

Many years later, when our son and daughter-in-law brought the grandsons to Texas, I rented the movie The Wizard of Oz. I think they were seven and six. I let them drag old sleeping bags and pillows into the living room so they could sit or lie down and watch the movie. Their dad--our son--got on the floor with them, and I popped the video into the player.

The younger one lay down besides his daddy and watched every minute of the movie. But the older one became frightened right away, and he chose to stand behind me in my recliner and watch from afar. When those flying monkeys came screeching out, the child ran around into the dining room and hid in a corner. Talk about a fraidy cat! I tried to get him to sit with me, but he'd have none of it.

Imagine the flying monkeys in 3D.
I'd be the one to hide in a corner.

I just don't understand re-making any classic movie. An old black and white should not be colorized. A silent movie should not be made into a "talkie." And a excellent classic such as The Wizard of Oz should not be in 3D.

Next thing I know, the movie people will colorized all those old black and white Westerns, and add 3D.

They've already gone too far when they allowed Johnny Depp to be Tonto.

And that's a wrap.


  1. I so agree with you, Celia. The beloved movies are still popular because of the way they were originally made. I hate to see them remaking movies, too. My biggest disappointment is the remake of Pride and Prejudice. I thought the one with Colin Firth was perfect, but the updated one with Kiera Knightly gets the big lineup of stars for rating and it is a shell of the other one. I was so disappointed with the remake except for the scenery and props. :(

  2. Okay, shoot me now, but I love 3D. My great-niece and I went to Johnny Depp in Wonderland and I became an addict of 3D. Honestly, I don't know about remaking old classics though. I think they should be left alone. They were scary then and they're scary now. I wasn't afraid of the flying monkeys even as a kid. I was afraid of the guards of the witch's castle. Call me weird.
    BTW, Paisley, I haven't seen The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp because I just can't imagine the proud Tonto as another Captain Sparrow characture.I like Johnny Depp, but he missed it on this one.
    Loved your blog, Celia.

  3. Seems they should have enough imagination to make something completely different! Must be the new generation doesn't want to think for itself.

    Morgan Mandel

  4. Paisley--I liked the remake of Pride and Prejudice, because I hadn't seen the one with Colin Firth. We saw the one with Kiera Knightly, and even my husband liked it. He fell in love with Kiera, and recognized Donald Sutherland. To this day, he remembers that movie.
    Any other, we do not remember.
    Maybe that's the key...the one we see first.
    Thanks, my friend.

  5. Sarah--I've actually never seen anything in 3D. In the fifties...the sixties--I never saw a 3D movie.
    Okay, I'll call you weird!
    To each his own is the name of the game. Love 3D, hate it, it doesn't matter in the end.

  6. Morgan--oh, I think you've definitely hit the nail on the head! We're always going backward...and why? Because our newer movie makers can't come up with anything new!

  7. I agree with you about not re-making The Wizard of Oz. The sensibilities present in the movie are a by-product of its time. For it to play well with today's audience, those charming eccentricities would have to be updated to something more hip and modern which would destroy the entire feeling of the movie, along with the sweet and simple message it offered.

    That being said, I do believe some older movies can be improved upon with a re-make. My examples would be the recent True Grit and the 1974 version of The Three Musketeers. The John Wayne version of True Grit was an undeniably good film, but the Cohen brothers remake was superior in almost every way (in my opinion). The same could be said for The Three Musketeers over all the versions which came before it.

    If you can stand one more dissenting opinion, I disagree with the uproar over casting Johnny Depp as Tonto. I didn't see him as another version of Jack Sparrow. In the new Lone Ranger, Tonto was a fully developed character in his own right, with his own back story, his own agenda and was smarter than most everyone else in the movie. (And there is an explanation for the crow on his head.) Yes, the John Reid character was played as a bumbling greenhorn, but it was an origins story of how he came to assume the mantle of The Lone Ranger, so he had to learn the ropes. And when the transformation is complete and the William Tell Overture fills your ears, you almost want to get up and clap. And Silver was a genuine hoot! My wife and eighteen year old daughter both loved it, and neither are western fans. During the train scene my daughter, who is very heavily into superhero movies, leaned over to me and said, "Best action sequence ever!" And isn't that what we need if we are going to keep the genre alive, a way to pull in the younger crowd and show them what they've been missing? People should have done themselves a favor and dumped their preconceived notions about the film and Depp and gone to see the movie. Future sequels would have been dynamite with the origins part now out of the way and the Lone Ranger-Tonto partnership firmly established, but I guess we'll never know because people stuck with their prejudices and stayed away, killing all hopes of a sequel. And yes, at 58, I am old enough to remember the original quite well.

    On a different note, my daughter watched the Nightmare Before Christmas at age 3 and my five year old son went to see Lord of the Rings when it came out. Neither of them acted the least bit scared at all the terrifying parts. Do I have strange kids or what?

    JD McCall

  8. Too right, Celia! I hate when they mess with classic like the Wizard of Oz. They only do it to make more money, not to "improve" what doesn't need improving.

  9. Hi, JD--I'm so glad you said the Cohen Brothers production of True Grit was superior to the first. I've never been a John Wayne fan--I know, rocks will be thrown through my window--and didn't even see the first True Grit. The new version, I thought, was so good I wrote a blog about it complete with photos when it came out. Wow. That received a lot of hits--more from John Wayne lovers chastising me a little bit.
    I did not see the new Lone Ranger movie. I thought I wanted to until I watched the previews...and it didn't appeal to me at all. But..can you explain the thing on Tonto's head? And wasn't this version really about Tonto ala Johnny Depp?
    My children, who grew up in the sixties were scared of some things, and would have nightmares. But both grew up watching The Wizard of Oz re-run countless times on tv, and they loved it every time--as did I.
    Thanks so much for your input--it was more interesting than my blog!

  10. Lyn--yes, me, too. I have never liked any sort of re-make. They seem to never work.
    Thanks for coming by!

  11. Hi Celia:
    I really did like the John Wayne True Grit, but after all is said and done, it's really a "John Wayne" movie. Most of Wayne's great acting was earlier in his career (The Searchers as an example). Later on the characters in his movies became him (or his movie persona) rather than him becoming the character. The Cohen brothers stayed closer to the source material and assembled a perfect cast of great actors. the reulst was a much more authentic film in my opinion

    The bird on Tonto's head relates to a tragic incident in his past, which is explained in the backstory. Depp took his make-up directly from a Native American painting called "I am Crow" by Kirby Sattler, right down to the bird on his head. It's a great painting (easily found on the internet and worth a look), and you can hardly say Depp was creating something non-authentic by copying it.

    A lot of The Lone Ranger is played for fun and laughs, but I hardly think the Old West was without humor. I would say at least rent the movie and go into it without any expectations. It's really a rollicking good time if you don't go into it with the idea of Clayton Moore's Lone Ranger (he was always just a tad to serious for me but still good fun).


  12. Sorry for the typos. Got in a hurry to let my son back on the computer.


  13. It seems remakes are never as good as the originals, although I don't really have a problem with converting an 'old' movie to 3D. Maybe all movies will eventually be in 3D, and we (or rather the next generation) will wonder how people ever coped with 2D movies!
    I'm wondering if we tend to cling to the first version we ever saw of a movie or TV series. For example, the remake of the Forsyte Saga couldn't hold a candle to the original 1960s b&w version, which held the UK spellbound!
    For me the definitive Jane Eyre was a TV series I saw when I was about 14, even though I've seen many other versions since then. But I have to confess to loving the BBC 'Pride and Prejudice' (and hating the one with Keira Knightley which seemed so shallow by comparison). Of course, Colin Firth might have something to do with that! But he was the best Darcy I have seen, and Jennifer Ehle was superb as Elizabeth Bennett.