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The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion Hardcover – October 29, 2013
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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“Essential to any Ozophile’s collection…Scarfone and Stillman have brought as many new finds and hitherto unseen treats as possible to the pages of this retrospective.” (Book Reviews by David Marshall James)
“The coffee table book offers a treasure trove of images, including startling photos of Judy Garland testing multiple wigs in various styles and colors-including cascading blonde locks.” (Variety)
“The rare photos and new information in the book are worth the price of the book alone. Well done to Stillman and Scarfone!” (The Royal Blog of OZ)
“Dedicated millions will find much to tickle them in The Official 75th Anniversary Companion, which compliments Scarfone and Stillman’s storytelling with artifacts from Turner Entertainment’s Oz archives.” (Psychobabble)
“It’s a gorgeous tome that celebrates a gorgeous film.” (The Examiner)
“Take a trip down Memory Lane as Dorothy...and the entire cast and crew of the film join you on your journey complete with interesting insights, little known facts and fascinating text.” (Collector's Corner)
“The wealth of knowledge and historical significance this volume contains is unprecedented.” (Lez Get Real)
“Wonderful. Fantastic. Brilliant. Gorgeous… this is by far the book to get this year or any year. It’s the perfect holiday gift, birthday gift, or gift for any occasion. Oz fans, Garland fans, MGM fans, musicals fans, and so on, will enjoy this book for years to come.” (Judy Garland News)
“Filled with behind-the-scenes facts and photos (Judy Garland in a soon-to-be-nixed blonde wig!), the film’s 75th-anniversary compendium is a must-have for fans.” (People magazine)
“Jump over the rainbow with inside stories from the classic film.” (Entertainment Weekly)
From the Back Cover
Commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, this collectible edition delivers an interactive experience, transporting readers over the rainbow and into the Land of Oz with its host of unpublished artwork, behind-the-scenes stories from the stars, and removable special features.
Open the door to the Land of Oz and travel down the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy and her companions on the journey of a lifetime. Learn the filmmaking tricks and techniques behind the film's realistic tornado, why Dorothy's shoes were ruby-colored, and how the filmmakers got a fleet of Winged Monkeys to fly. Authors Jay Scarfone and William Stillman reveal filmmaking secrets and information on everything from the film's pre- and postproduction to early reviews and publicity to never-before-published stories from the cast and crew, making it the definitive book on the subject. Beautifully designed with an array of film stills, Technicolor™ test frames, rare artwork and photography, and costume and set illustrations, this collectible edition provides an unrivaled glimpse at the land where dreams come true.
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Surprisingly, The Official 75th Anniversary Companion still manages to bring new material to readers. The three books form a rather comprehensive trilogy about the making of the film, and there are still other aspects that Stillman and Scarfone haven't touched on. (Aljean Harmetz's The Making of the Wizard of Oz—yet to be covered on the blog—covered a lot of the studio head's work, and John Fricke's book for the Rhino soundtrack album covered the music. Both of these aspects are not highly covered in the Scarfone/Stillman books.)
The book endeavors to bring a number of previously unseen or rarely seen images from the production of the film. There are several that I haven't seen before, while there are still some pictures that will be familiar to those who have read up on the film.
The book is broken into several segments. First and foremost is Baum, then Samuel Goldwyn's attempts to bring Oz to screen before he sold the property to MGM. Stillman and Scarfone tell of a rarely known friendship between Walt Disney and Mervyn LeRoy. (Including that during the many rewrites of the script, Disney loaned MGM a print of Snow White for them to get a better idea of what kind of a story they were going for.)
Sections cover each of the main cast, then the peculiar peoples of Oz, using rarely seen photos to show some of the development of the character's look. Then a summary of the production of the film, how Thorpe began (including the only color photo of Judy Garland in her blonde "Lolita Gale" wig) and Fleming took over after Cukor did some revisions. What exactly the cast did in between shots is also covered, turning up new material.
Then special effects and the design of the film are covered, including some revisions to what we'd thought we'd known about how they created the cyclone and the Horse of A Different Color. Then, the release of the film and its re-releases, and debut on television and legacy. On each topic, the authors dig up some new information.
In the back of the book, there's a silver-colored envelope containing a number of paper memorabilia, some newly designed, some recreated from 1939 items. There's a bookmark, a lobby card, two posters, a booklet of reduced size lobby cards, the death certificate of the Wicked Witch of the East, certificates from the Wizard for Dorothy's friends, a cardboard frame that shows your choice of several paper photos of the Oz characters, and a large mock newspaper clipping from the fictional Oz Herald. It almost feels like the recent Collector's Box set of the film intentionally left any 1939 replicas out just for this book. (Which, remember, it does have two advertisements for.)
Overall, though, the book doesn't really need the bonus memorabilia. The rare photos and new information in the book are worth the price of the book alone. Well done to Stillman and Scarfone!
I guess I'm selfish--in that I was really looking forward to the authors unveiling some unseen Oz photos, especially those featuring the Munchkins. (My favorite.)
Actually, there are very few photos of the Munchkins in this book and when the authors do present a candid taken on the MGM studio lot, it's not from "The Wizard of Oz" as they claim, but rather it shows entertainment manager Nate Eagle and three little ladies during production of the film "Three Wise Fools" (1946) starring Margaret O'Brien, eight years after Oz. The authors further assert Nate Eagle worked on Oz procuring little people for Munchkin roles, but this is erroneous. Their mislabeled photograph from "Three Wise Fools" includes Mary Ellen Burbach (St. Aubin) who is still alive, if they seek confirmation.
This mistake did not surprise me since the authors, in a previous Oz book, printed the names of several Oz "cast members" who were not in the film at all. For example, Stillman and Scarfone printed that Patsy May and Eleanor Keaton both appeared in the film as child Munchkins. In reality, infant actress Baby Patsy May as she was known, was four years old at the time of Oz and was not a part of it at all; Eleanor Keaton (wife of Buster) was full grown and taller than Judy Garland in 1938 when Munchkinland was filmed. This is indicative, so I must admit, I find it difficult to trust their research. Oh, and on the topic...there is no data establishing that Toto appeared with the Three Stooges on film, as noted in their book. That is conjecture which the authors probably spotted on a web site and simply went with it as fact. More misinformation.
While the authors do include some rare costume test images of several little actors, disappointingly they ran them bite-size at best. All of the interesting detail in the photos is lost. One such shot of prominent Munchkin Billy Curtis, shows him standing, donning his costume for the photographer, but the binding splits him down the middle, from head to toe. That's a no-no in Design 101, and it occurs more than once in this book. Another such photograph rudely separates Judy Garland down the middle of her skull.
Strangely, I noticed the authors spent all of one paragraph describing what a few of the Munchkin actors did following Oz (specifying "related work" which signifies show biz.). How could they omit Jerry Maren and Billy Curtis, both of whom had prolific careers in the industry, in live performance, film, and television? Billy Curtis costarred with Clint Eastwood in "High Plains Drifter" and Jerry Maren costarred with The Marx Brothers in "At the Circus".
In the area of the Legacy chapter, the authors describe how the Oz main cast members reunited over the years and kept the film alive in their personal sphere. Again, it was strange to me when authors deliberately chose to ignore the past twenty-five years of Munchkin actors' reunions, tours, and personal appearances around the world. The Munchkin actors, the longest surviving cast members from Oz, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but this newsworthy fact is nowhere to be found in an authorized 75th anniversary tribute. Talk about short end of the stick. "The Wizard of Oz", as a film and a viable studio property or brand, has had no better good-will ambassadors over the decades than these little actors. But in this book, they are sadly overlooked.
I applaud the unveiling of some genuinely rare images found within these pages. The color behind-the-scenes image of Garland taken during the Richard Thorpe era (early footage which was scrapped) is wondrous. To me, the most fascinating are the color out-take frames showing us how the Wizard's bulbous head was filmed against a black background for the Throne Room sequences. These should be amazing to see, but the photos are miniscule...and I do mean thumbnails. So, they're only slightly amazing. For the authors to finally reveal these gems in a basically un-viewable manner is maddening and mean-spirited. Also wasted potential.
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