The Wizard of Oz (Lost Footage of 1939 Film)
|Promo shot of The Wicked Witch's death.|
Regarded as the most viewed film in history, The Wizard of Oz needs no introduction. It is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), directed by Victor Fleming and (an uncredited) King Vidor. Produced by Mervyn LeRoy, the film stars Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, and Margaret Hamilton, and was written by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf with songs by Harold Arlen and E. Y. "Yip" Harburg.
Although it remains the most famous and successful adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to this day, production was a bit of a nightmare. With a total of five directors, a plethora of footage was shot that was either scrapped or cut out of the film after preview showings.
- 1 Direction Under Norman Taurog - Summer 1938
- 2 Direction Under Richard Thorpe - Fall 1938
- 3 Direction Under Victor Fleming - Fall 1938-Early 1939
- 4 Direction Under King Vidor - Early-Mid 1939
- 5 References
Direction Under Norman Taurog - Summer 1938
In July 1938, MGM announced that they had tapped director Norman Taurog, who had a reputation of guiding young performers, to helm their upcoming film adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Working on the film during the extensive wardrobe and makeup tests for the summer of 1938, Taurog was paid for three days of directorial work for the project, most likely for test shots performed in July-August. During the first week of September, however, Taurog was replaced by Richard Thorpe and reassigned to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which would be released on February 10, 1939.
Though some pictures from the set have survived, the test footage shot by Taurog is presumed lost.
Direction Under Richard Thorpe - Fall 1938
After Taurog's reassignment, MGM brought in director Richard Thorpe to work on the film. According to the book The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History, Thorpe "had a reputation for bringing in pictures on budget and on schedule, which must have been a real attraction as the studio watched pre-production costs mount on The Wizard of Oz."
On October 13, filming began on the MGM Studios lot, and continued for a total of nine days. The scenes filmed included Dorothy and the Scarecrow's first encounter in the cornfield and various sequences in the Wicked Witch's castle. After an on-set mishap caused the production to shut down, producer Mervyn LeRoy reviewed Thorpe's footage and decided that it lacked the childlike wonder and innocence the production needed, and that Thorpe was rushing the production. Thorpe was subsequently fired.
As a new director was sought out and hired, director George Cukor took over while waiting for his next film, Gone With the Wind, to begin filming. Staying with the film for less for a week, he was brought on to help shape the film.
All footage from Thorpe's reign was scrapped, and like the Taurog footage, is presumed to be lost.
"If I Only Had a Brain" - Original Version
Shot in November of 1938 under Thorpe, "If I Only Had a Brain" was originally very different than what would end up in the final film. Much more sedate than the final version, it was sung by Bolger in a much softer voice and slower, with simpler staging to contrast with his lively manner. Choreography for the sequence was by Bob Connolly.
Though thought to be lost, this recording of the song was rediscovered on a privately-owned playback disc in 2009. The recording was restored and released (in far better quality than listed here) on April 19th, 2015, as a digital download for buyers of The Wizard of Oz Emerald LP release on Record Store Day.
Though the recording itself has been found, the footage remains lost.
The Original Dorothy
Under Thorpe's reign as director, the makeup and costume designs for Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Wicked Witch differed from what they would be in the final film. Though subsequent changes to the Witch's and the Scarecrow would be fairly minor, Dorothy proved to be another story.
Under studio direction, Garland wore a long, blonde wig, heavy, "baby-doll" makeup, and a blue cotton pinafore with a blue polka-dot border, and directed to be played in an exaggerated fashion.
After Thorpe was taken off the production, Cukor had her makeup and wardrobe altered, and gave her a more naturalistic look. He also told Garland to play Dorothy more down-to-earth, to remember that she was "just a little girl from Kansas."
The Original Tin-Man
Originally cast as the Tin-Man was MGM contract player Ray Bolger. However, knowing that the movements of the Scarecrow would be closer to the type of dancing he had become known for and specialized in -- Having been inspired to become a dancer after seeing a production of The Red Mill staring Fred Stone, who originated the role of the Scarecrow in the 1902 The Wizard of Oz stage production. -- and feeling he was more suited for the role, he requested to switch roles with Buddy Ebsen, who had been cast as the Scarecrow. The studio approved, and the roles were switched.
After working on pre-recording and costume / makeup tests between September 22 and October 17, 1938, Ebsen began filming scenes five days into shooting on October 17th, involving the film's climax inside of The Witch's Castle. Three days later, on October 21, he suffered an allergic reaction to the aluminum dust used in his makeup and was rushed to the hospital. He was subsequently taken off the picture, the press being told it was due to pneumonia.
In an interview years later, Ebsen stated:
- "They put aluminum dust all over my makeup, and this aluminum dust got into the air, and pretty soon my lungs were coated with it. One night I took a breath and nothing happened. They got an ambulance for me and rushed me down to the hospital."
He also later recalled the producer's feelings towards his illness:
- "There was, in those days, a great deal of pressure - There still is. But they just didn't believe that actors got sick, or that, legitimately, [there] were casualties. I think they suspected that I was unhappy, because originally I had been promised the part of the Scarecrow and they switched me to the Tin-Man, and they thought I bore a grudge and now I was gonna get even with them. They thought I was malingering, and so, Mervyn called the hospital- And I can still remember the nurse in conversation with him, I was under an oxygen tent at the time, and she said 'Mister who? Mr. LeRoy? Why isn't Mr. Ebsen on the set? Listen you, Mr. Ebsen's a very sick man, and we're gonna keep him here until he's well!' And so, they did, and they got somebody else to play the part. But they never quite believed that I was really sick."
The production was shut down as a replacement was sought out and Thorpe was replaced (see above). On November 11, a letter of agreement was drawn up between MGM and 20th Century Fox, agreeing that Fox contract player Jack Haley (who is recorded as already working on the film as early as October 1) would play "Hickory Twicker" (Tin-Man). Haley, who was not told the reason for Ebsen's departure and whose makeup was quietly replaced with aluminum paste instead of powder, would re-record all of Ebsen's solo song moments in the film, though Ebsen's voice remains in the film during the group vocals on "We're Off to See the Wizard."
Though Haley wouldn't suffer any breathing problems due to his makeup, a small amount got into his eye, causing a severe infection. He was taken off the film for a week to stay in small, darkened room as to not damage his vision. Ebsen wouldn't return to MGM until December 13, when he begin work on the film Four Girls in White.
Direction Under Victor Fleming - Fall 1938-Early 1939
Between November 11, 1938 and February 17 1939, filming would take place under the helm of Victor Fleming, known as a man's-man, best friend of Clark Gable, action director, and a savior of troubled films. (When later asked why he agreed to direct Oz, he stated that it was so he could make a film his two young daughters could enjoy.) After completing the scenes set in Oz, Fleming was called in to direct the struggling Gone With the Wind production over at Selznick International Pictures. (Director George Cukor and star Clark Gable were barley on speaking terms, and Gable was threatening to quit the picture unless Fleming was brought in).
Though production ran relatively smoothly from this point on, (with the exception of two on set accidents involving Margaret Hamilton and her stand-in, Betty Danko), a few scenes had to be reshot due to mistakes and later cuts, and a plethora of lines and scenes were later deleted from the film. Due to the industry-wide tradition at the time of destroying cut and unused footage, it's presumed that the following footage / recordings are lost.
Original "Shiny" Tin-Man footage
After Ebsen's aborted stint as the Tin-Man, Jack Haley began filing scenes with Judy Garland and Ray Bolger on November 10, 1939, filming the Tin-Man's introduction. Filming for three days, it became apparent that a major mistake had been made.
The Tin-Man, who was supposed to have been in the forest and rusted over, was polished. (This was due to the fact that Haley's Tin-Man costume was only shortened for him and not altered in any other way from Ebsen's, who filmed all his his scenes in the Witch's castle at the end of the film.)
After makeup and costume tests on the 15 and 16th, shooting of the sequence resumed on the 16th, now with a rusty Tin-Man.
As the footage was scrapped and reshot, the shiny takes are presumed destroyed.
"I'll use you for a bee-hive!"
During filming, a scene immediately following "If I Only Had a Heart" was filmed. Following the Wicked Witch's threatening the trio, a swarm of (animated) bees would fly out of Tin-Man, the Witch fulfilling her threat of turning him into a bee-hive.
As Dorothy runs for cover, the bees try to sting Tin-Man, but bend their stingers on him instead, and fly away in defeat. As Dorothy returns, she discovers a bee on her arm, and the Tin-Man kills it as he tries to get it off of her. He shows his true emotions as the following exchange occurs:
- TIN MAN: Oh, see - I killed it. Oh, I killed that poor little honey bee!
- DOROTHY: Oh-oh-
- TIN MAN: It's only a man without a heart who could do a thing like that. Poor little bee.
- [SHE WIPES AWAY HIS TEARS.]
- DOROTHY: Oh, there, there. Don't cry. There. As a matter of fact, that's just an old drone bee, and it would have died anyway.
- TIN MAN: Yes?
- DOROTHY: You put it out of its misery.
- TIN MAN: Oh.
- DOROTHY: It's just that the Witch is so wicked. I don't think you two ought to come with me because you'll get into trouble.
- SCARECROW: Oh, you don't think we're going to stand by and let her get away with fireballs and bees, do you?
- TIN MAN: No, sir!
- SCARECROW: No, sir!
Cut during previews, it was most likely cut for time or because it was deemed too terrifying for children. As such, animation for the sequence was never completed, if it was ever started to begin with, and the footage was lost. However, the underscore for the scene, "Woodman's Lament," survives, and can be found on the recent DVD / Blu-Ray releases of the film as a part of the jukebox feature.
The Changing of The Guards
Soon after the Witch threatens Dorothy in the Emerald City, a small exchange was to occur with The Guard in the city. After the group begs him to let them in to see the Wizard, he proclaims that "we've gotta change the guards." Going into the Sentry House, the guard takes off his fake mustache and reapplies it upside down, disguising himself as a new guard.
Cut possibly for time and pacing, the deletion resulted in a continuity error in the final film, as the Guard's mustache changes mid-scene.
The Vanishing Props
Set after the group's first meeting with the Wizard of Oz, a small scene was filmed that explains a large continuity error in the film. When we first see them in The Haunted Forrest, we see Scarecrow holding a water pistol and a long stick that bends in its center, Lion holding a large butterfly net and a spray can of what is labeled "Witch Remover," and Tin-Man is carrying a large wrench. However, after a cut in the final film, the props are gone, with no explanation of where they went.
As originally shot, two the props would have disappeared by the work of the Wicked Witch during the following exchange:
- TIN MAN: From now on, we're on enemy ground. You should have something to protect yourself with.
- LION: She - she can have my Witch Remover.
- [He hands his spray can, labeled "WITCH REMOVER," to Dorothy.]
- DOROTHY: Does it work?
- LION: No, but it's wonderful for threatening with.
- DOROTHY: Oh --
- SCARECROW: Oh, here - give me that thing!
- [He takes the can and throws it. It hits the ground and vanishes.]
- SCARECROW: Oh, did - did you see that?
- [Lion's net flies out of his hands.]
- TIN MAN: Oh - look out.
- [The net vanishes.]
- SCARECROW: You know something? I believe they're spooks around here.
- TIN MAN: That's ridiculous! Spooks -- that's silly.
In the final film, the Tin-Man's wrench is never be recovered after he is suddenly levitated and falls back down to Earth, and the Scarecrow would disposes of his weapons as he rushes to the Tin-Man's aid.
Written in May 1938, '"The Jitterbug" would be the first song written for the film by composer Harold Arlen and lyricist E. Y. "Yip" Harburg. It was a hold over from, or possibly inspired by, earlier drafts of the script, where Dorothy's journey through Oz was accompanied by a series of musical contests. (This plot-line was likely a way to justify the musical numbers before the idea of the film being an integrated musical, where the songs explain the characters and plot, was implemented.) A spoiled princess, a part written for Betty Jaynes, outlawed all musical genres besides classical and operetta and would go up against Dorothy, who's jazzy, jitterbug style would enchant audiences and win her the grand prize.
In the final draft of the script, the song had had been integrated into the story. On their way to kill the Wicked Witch, Dorothy and her friends run into the jitterbug, a pink and blue animated, mosquito-like insect sent by the Wicked Witch to tire the group out for her flying monkeys, that causes whoever it bites to dance wildly. After more jitterbugs appear, the group collapses from exhaustion and are subdued by the flying monkeys.
Recorded by Garland, Bolger, Bert Lahr, and Ebsen on October 6, 1938, with the intro to the song being re-recorded with Haley on December 22 (the main song was not re-recorded), and after about 5 weeks of rehearsal, the sequence was shot over the course of four days between January 9-13, 1939. In total, the sequence cost $80,000 (around $1,370,000 in 2015) to rehearse and shot.
However, immediately after the film's first preview, the sequence was cut from the film, likely for various reasons. Not only was the film too long for the standards at the time, it was likely felt that the scene, where the main characters break out in an upbeat, energetic showstopper like this would seem too ridiculous surrounded by the darker, more serious materials around it.
It may have also been cut for a totally different reason. According to Harburg, "When we wrote the song, the word had no meaning. Our 'Jitter Bug' was a bug that gives you the jitters. But they began to worry that 'The Jitterbug' might date the picture."
Various recordings survive of the song from the film's production, including a choreography rehearsal featuring assistant choreographer Donna Mason in place of Garland and recordings with both Ebsen and Haley, all of which are included on the jukebox feature on the film's recent DVD / Blu-Ray releases. Though some silent, behind the scene footage shot by Arlen of the cast during on-set rehearsals before filming survives, footage from the scene itself has not been discovered, and it is believed to be lost.
The song has gone on to be been included in various stage adaptations, including the 1942 Muny production, the 1987 production by the Royal Shakespeare Company, 1995's The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True (sung by singer Jewel), and the 1996 touring production of The Wizard of Oz on Ice sung by Bobby McFerrin.
Though cut from the film, a reference to the jitterbug remains. In the scene immediately before the flying monkeys' attack, the Wicked Witch tells their leader Nikko:
- "Take your army to the Haunted Forest, and bring me that girl and her dog! Do what you like with the others, but I want her alive and unharmed! They'll give you no trouble, I promise you that. I've sent a little insect on ahead to take the fight out of them. Take special care of those ruby slippers. I want those most of all. Now, fly! Fly! Bring me that girl and her slippers! Fly! Fly! Fly!"
"Over the Rainbow" Reprise
The film originally featured a reprise of Dorothy's iconic I-want song "Over the Rainbow," set after the Wicked Witch's imprisonment of Dorothy. After the Witch leaves Dorothy alone in her tower, with only the cursed hourglass to keep the girl company, Dorothy pounds on the door and tries to escape, to no avail. As she begins to cry, she slowly makes her way towards the Witch's crystal ball and falls to her knees as she begins to sing. However, before she's able to finish, she begins to sob, crying out "I'm frightened, I'm frightened, Auntie Em -- I'm frightened!"
Sung live on set by Garland, as the emotion needed would've made the song too difficult to successfully lipsync, she was accompanied by her musical mentor Roger Edens on the piano with orchestration being added in later.
Filmed by Fleming, possibly in December of 1938, no footage or recording of his version of the scene is known to exist. However, interestingly, a recording of one of Garland's takes, shot on October 17, 1938 by Fleming's predecessor Thorpe, does survive, and is included on Rhino's 2-disc edition of the soundtrack. As with much of the cut underscore for the film, the orchestration for Fleming's take also exists, and is included on the same soundtrack.
Though not sung in full by Garland, the full lyrics to the reprise are:
- Someday I'll wake and rub my eyes,
- And in that land beyond the skies,
- You'll find me.
- I'll be a laughin' daffodil,
- And leave the silly cares that fill,
- My mind behind me.
- Somewhere, over the rainbow,
- Blue birds fly.
- Birds fly over the rainbow,
- Why then, oh why can't I?
Cut during previews, the scene was deleted due to time issues or because it was felt that the scene was too intense for children.
It should be noted that in the film's continuity script, created for the film's original cut, the scene is broken up into two parts. After the first half of the song is complete ("Someday I'll wake and rub my eyes / And in that land beyond the skies / You'll find me"), the scene cuts to Tin-Man, Scarecrow, and Lion approaching the Witch's castle. After the scene where the trio decide on a plan, Dorthy's scene is resumed, as she says "I'm frightened, Auntie Em -- I'm frightened!" Whether this cut was due to a planned edit in the film, deleting footage of Dorothy singing the chorus, or because the scene was rewritten under Fleming and was shot without the final chorus is, at this point, unknown.
"Hail Hail! The Witch is Dead"
As originally shot, a reprise of "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead," titled "Hail Hail! The Witch is Dead," was to take place after the Witch's death. Lead by the leader of the Winkies, the rest of the Winkies join in as they lead a procession back to the Emerald City.
Cut from the final film, footage from the sequence does exist as it was used in the film's original trailer.
The Wicked Witch of the West's Cut Scenes
As originally scripted and shot, the Wicked Witch was to have a bigger role in the film. During previews, a dozen or so of her lines were trimmed and cut significantly due to the reaction of children. A young relative of L. Frank Baum, who attended one of the previews, wrote to Ruth Plumly Thompson (who had proceeded Baum as Royal Historian of Oz) about the experience:
- "The picture was wonderful, but the witch was too scary. Children had to be carried out through the whole picture."
Cuts to the Witch's sequences include a brief exchange where the Witch threatens Dorothy upon meeting her in Munchkinland ("I can cause accidents, too!"), a brief exchange with Dorothy after threatening Scarecrow and the Tin-Man on the rooftop ("And as for you, my little Dorothy, I wish you luck with the Wizard of Oz. And a happy journey back to Kansas!"), a brief scene during the poppies sequence, where the Witch watches the flowers take their effects ("Bring me my wishing cap! I'll call the Winged Monkeys to fetch me those slippers!"), and an extension of the Witch's threat in The Emerald City ("SURRENDER DOROTHY OR DIE! W.W.W.")
Direction Under King Vidor - Early-Mid 1939
Director King Vidor was brought in to complete the picture, shooting the film's sepia Kansas scenes between February 19 and early March 19, and filming retakes at various points between early May and early June. Though offered credit for his work, Vidor refused it, stating that Fleming deserved undisputed credit for the film.
Though his section, the Kansas sequence, contains the fewest cuts, things were still cut and trimmed.
Aunt Em & Uncle Henry's exchange
As originally written and shot, the following exchange between Aunt Em and Uncle Henry at the chicken coop was to take place after Dorothy runs off:
- HENRY: Poor little orphan, and her Miss Gulch troubles. Gosh all hemlock - you know, she ought to have somebody to play with.
- EM: I know, but we all got to work out our own problems, Henry.
- HENRY: Yes.
- EM: Oh, I hope we got them [chicks] in time.
- HENRY: Yes.
The section was likely cut for time.
Hickory's Wind Machine
As originally shot, a brief subplot was included in the film. After talking to Hunk, Dorothy was to go talk to Hickory, who had suck off to the barn to work on his "wind machine," meant to ward off cyclones, his latest invention . Commenting as he stands up "it feels like my joints are rusted," he tells Dorothy "[Miss Gultch is] just a poor sour-faced old maid that -- she ain't got no heart left. You know, you should have a little more heart yourself, and have pity on her," before turning to his invention and proclaiming, "This is the best invention I ever invented!"
Turning on the machine's motor as he begins to explain, oil spurts out onto his face as it begins to malfunction. As he works to turn it off, and Dorothy runs out of the barn, Hickory exclaims, "I'll bet Hunk did that."
Later on, as the cyclone approaches, Henry finds Hickory in the barn. As Hickory goes to explain what it can do, Henry orders his to "help Hunk get them horses loose!" Hickory does so, abandoning his machine, after saying "you'll be sorry."
Though cut from the film, most likely due to pacing issues, a brief mention remains in the film, as Em mentions that she "saw you tinkering with that contraption, Hickory" as she walks over to Dorothy and the farm hands after the pig pen scene.
Extended Professor Marvel Scene
Two small sections of Dorothy's meeting of Professor Marvel were written and shot.
At the fireside, after Toto grab's the Professor's sausage, the following exchange was to occur:
- MARVEL: Here now -- let's see where were we? Oh, yes - you - you wanted to go home, huh?
- DOROTHY: Oh, no, I wanted to go along with you.
- MARVEL: Oh --
- DOROTHY: Nobody cares about me at home. They wouldn't even miss me.
- MARVEL: Aw, come, come, come --
- DOROTHY: No, they won't - honestly.
- MARVEL: Oh --
- DOROTHY: Auntie Em was even going to let them kill Toto yesterday for biting Miss Gulch. Oh, please, Professor, why can't we go with you and see all the Crowned Heads of Europe?
- MARVEL: Do you know any?
The section was likely cut for pacing purposes. However, it's possible that it was to streamline the timeline for the film, as Dorothy implies that she had left home the day before. In the final film, no such reference is present.
A brief section was also trimmed from the crystal ball reading, where Professor Marvel describes Em going into a "little bedroom".
- DOROTHY: Has it poppies on the wallpaper?
- MARVEL: I said it had poppies on the wall paper!
Likely cut for time purposes, as the poppy wallpaper, though present in the final film (and meant to foreshadow the poppy sequence in Oz), is rather hard to make out.
The Deleted Scarecrow Dance
On February 28, 1939, Garland and Bolger re-recorded "If I Only Had a Brain" and re-shot the sequence with new choreographed by Busby Berkeley. As quoted in Aljean Harmetz's book The Making of The Wizard Oz, Bolger said of the sequence, "it was a fantastic dance that didn't mean anything overall to the picture." By the June 18, 1939 preview, his dance was cut from the film.
In the 1970s, after the Culver City fire department asked MGM to remove its flammable nitrate negatives from the lot, the studio transferred their three-strip Technicolor nitrate trims (the bits and pieces cut from their films) to single strips of Eastman Kodak CRI color film stock. The nitrate trims were soon loaded onto a barge and dumped into the Pacific Ocean.
Some time later, the cut dance sequence was discovered in the MGM archive and it was first publicly shown in the 1985 documentary That's Dancing! and included in the 1990 TV documentary The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic, both produced by Jack Haley, Jr.
In the late nineties, Warner Bros., who had inherited the rights to the film from MGM in 1994, restored the sequence for possible reinsertion in the film's 1998 re-release. As the film stock used to preserve the sequence had faded over time, color and contrast enhancements were painstakingly augmented by digital methods, and the wires used to lift Bolger in the air were digitally erased from each frame. The studio later decided against including the sequence in the film, as to not to tamper with the classic. The sequence was again restored, along with the rest of the film, for the film's 2009 re-release, presented for the first time in high-definition. The sequence has been included in every deluxe home media release since 1989.
This sequence serves as the only deleted sequence from the film to have been found in full.
- The Wizard of Oz, Continuity Script, March 15, 1939
- The Wizard of Oz Production Timeline, The Judy Room
- The Wizard of Oz Wiki
- The Wizard of Oz (1939), Wikipedia
- The Making of The Wizard of Oz, by Aljean Harmetz
- The Wizard of Oz, 70th Anniversary, Ultimate Collector's Edition DVD set