Me and the Colorful World of Oz

Time to tell you a little about myself. As a lifelong fan of Film and Music who was immersed in it professionally for a long time, I think I have some observations you might find interesting or entertaining.

For a half-dozen years, last century, I was a sound editor for independent films in NYC, and since then I’ve produced docs and non-fiction television TV. Briefly, I was generating bonus content for DVDs. In other words, I’ve had all kinds of experiences, some with celebrities old and new, and those escapades will figure into my posts (my Tales of Scorsese are bottomless). But mostly I’m going to dissect films and songs that I love, frequently griping about aspects and trends that annoy me. Also, I’m a big supporter of audio commentaries, and when I hear something especially cool on one, I’ll post portions.

To the Velvet Underground fans out there, my URL is a semi-obscure VU reference, but in this context, I’d like to think that I’m peeling away the layers of art, both high and low, and revealing the wonderful riches underneath. And hopefully prompting some nice discussion as well.

But, hey! Enough of my yakkin’. What do you say? Let’s boogie!

We all remember the moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy leaves her home and enters Oz, especially because it takes us into the color portion of the film. And the geeks reading this probably already know that those first 22 minutes of the film were broadcast in B&W–instead of the original sepia—until 1989. And the observant folks know that the first shot in color has the door frame to the house painted in sepia so it appears to be in B&W until Dorothy opens the door…

But I just noticed this and think it’s really awesome: The woman who opens the door is not Judy Garland. It’s her stand-in wearing a sepia version of Dorothy’s blue-and-white dress:

Then when she steps back out of frame, Judy Garland walks through the door:

I love shit like that. Smart problem-solving. In-camera, on-location problem solving.

And please don’t take this as a rant against computers or CGI or the way they make films now. I’m just enamored with the fact that I’ve seen this film many, many times and never noticed that aspect to the shot. I was always too busy looking at the sepia-painted walls around the door!

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11 Comments

Filed under Film

11 responses to “Me and the Colorful World of Oz

  1. Nick

    How do you KNOW it’s not Judy Garland? I just watched it more times than I care to admit, and I can’t tell the difference…

    • I was watching it a few weeks ago and saw that moment. I reflexively grabbed the remote and said to my wife, “Whoa! Check that out!” (That’s become my new lightbulb for a blog post: if I do that, then I’ll write about it.)

      OK, so I write this post (about two weeks ago since I’ve been stockpiling these for the “launch”). Then, a few days ago, out of nowhere, a buddy of mine gives me a stack of book she no longer wanted and one of them was The Wizadry of Oz, a 1999 book about the making of the film. And in there, they include a picture of Judy Garland and her double/stand-in Bobbie Koshay and explain what I detail in my post.

      This is a long, roundabout way of saying that, yes, I could have fortified my post with more proof, but chose to keep it mean and lean.

  2. Tom Gee

    I was not surprised to hear you worked in the film industry. You spent enough time in movie theaters when you were young with your Mom. I was always jealous that you got to see R rated movies when we were in grade school.

    • Well, Tom, on one side, I was a pretty persuasive kid when it came to seeing a movie–on the other hand, there were like, what, a dozen of you Gee kids. It must have cost a fortune for your folks to see any movie, regardless of the rating!

  3. Adam L

    I suppose without this pioneering practical in-camera work, we’d never have the Old Spice commercials. Thanks Victor Fleming, Mervyn LeRoy, Richard Thorpe, and King Vidor!

    • So true.

      “In camera work.” I was wondering about that phrase, and I suppose that what they did is technically “in camera.” But I always think of that phrase when I see footage that was shot at different speeds, or double exposures like in silent films–stuff that happens literally “in camera,” as opposed to “in post.” In other words, I’d say this trick they pull is “pre-in camera,” and more like “in blocking.” I’m way over-analyzing–but, hey, I saved it for a Comment and not the post itself!

  4. Tim Streeto

    Wait, I’m confused, when does this happen on “Dark Side of the Moon”? Is it before or after the munchkin hangs himself?

    I love it! When I was a kid I always thought this shot was in color, that they just made the interior part darker to look B&W. What a fool I was!

    Great blog steve!

  5. Pingback: Fred Astaire, Easter Parade and Experimental Cinema « Peel Slowly

  6. Came here from the youtube link, I must say that your take on the minutiae of production is intreaging. I can fully understand as I too get the “and?” look when i spot or get excited about things like that. Certainly the dorothy into Oz moment is one that has gotten me a few…so what if that’s how they done it…looks when i think it is a simply awesome way to produce an awesome effect.

    I will be following your insights with great interest!

  7. Look closely and I think we can agree that Judy’s stand-in is holding the real (live) Toto dog, while the real Judy, as she exits through the door, appears to be holding a stuffed dog — note that the dog’s legs do not move.

    …Rowby

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