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posted by martyb on Sunday May 17 2020, @06:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the following-the-yellow-brick-road dept.

'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' Turns 120:

Playwright, chicken farmer and children's book author L. Frank Baum published "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" 120 years ago Sunday. The book would sell out its first run of 10,000 copies in eight months and go on to sell a total of 3 million copies before it fell into the public domain in 1956.

Baum would try his hand at other children's books but returned to his Oz characters time and time again, adapting them for a stage production in 1902 that ran for a while on Broadway and toured the country. Baum would write a total of 14 Oz novels, but his biggest success – a 1939 movie version – would come long after his death.

Baum's intent was to create a fairy tale along the lines of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. Baum also admired the character of Alice in Lewis Carroll's work and chose a similar young girl to be his fictional hero.

[...] A portion of the success of the book has been attributed to Baum's illustrator, W.W. Denslow, who he worked with closely on the project. Denslow, in fact, was given partial ownership of the copyright of the book. This caused problems later when Denslow and Baum had a falling out while working on the 1902 stage adaptation.

The most popular adaptation of Baum's first Oz book was the 1939 movie starring Judy Garland.

Wikipedia has many more details on the story and the film.

[Aside: I had heard only the land of Oz was filmed in Technicolor because it was so much more costly than black and white. I've been unable to corroborate. Are there any Soylentils here who can confirm or deny it? --Ed.]


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18 2020, @12:57AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18 2020, @12:57AM (#995547)

    Worked Wizard as stage crew in high school--c.1970. We had a mechanically minded set designer and built a bridge that rotated, central pivot and small rubber tire wheel drove it around, powered by a 3-phase reversing motor. Even made our own slip rings from PVC, copper pipe rings and heavy copper braid. All through rehearsals (and shows) the actor would walk on to the covered bridge, lighting crew on stage-right would flip the switch and spin it 180 degrees. But on the last night of the run I guess the actor pissed someone off and he got about 5 times around, each way, they also left all the lights on, so when the bridge faced the audience end-on, you could see the actor trying to brace himself against the 1x4 framework that supported the covered bridge (painted canvas). That actor stumbled off the bridge extremely dizzy!

    Fast forward to about 10 years ago, we bought our first large flat screen TV and one of the first things we happened to see was a re-run of the original movie. Some friends were over, we all commented on how cheap and tacky some of the sets and costumes looked in hi-res. All those years of fuzzy NTSC left room for the imagination to filter/sharpen the image.