The Hanging Rumor
April 24, 1999
This is just another example of why you really have to see this movie
on the big screen to fully appreciate it.
Ever since THE WIZARD OF OZ was released on video there have been
rumors of a hanging visible in the background of the Tin Woodsman sequence.
In the scenes leading up to the "hanging," Dorothy and the Scarecrow
meet the Tin Man while picking apples off the talking apple trees. After
they get him well-oiled, the three encounter the Wicked Witch of the West
who tries to set the Scarecrow on fire. (The Tin Man puts him out with
his hat.) After the Witch leaves, the three head down the yellow brick
road on their way to the Emerald City. If you look closely as they are
skipping down the road away from the camera, among the trees deep in the
background to the left of the road, something moves in the shadows. This
is the supposed "hanging" and I'll admit that when you see the
film on television and someone suggests to you that a munchkin or crew
member is hanging themselves, the movement is pretty convincing.
However, it's because the image in the background is so small when
you see it on TV that it looks like someone's hanging. If you see it on
the big screen it's obvious what it really is--a big bird (a crane,
I think) spreading and flapping its wings. There's no hanging munchkin
or crew member or anyone else. It's just a bird. But why the bird? Well,
MGM though it would make "over
the rainbow" more exotic if there were random birds just wandering
around, so they rented several different types from the Los Angeles Zoo
(including peacocks and turkeys) and let them loose on the set. If you
pay attention throughout the sequences when Dorothy is meeting everyone,
you'll notice a lot of random birds around.
Anyway, this ought to prove what a difference it makes to see a film
on the big screen, the way it was intended. If you ever get the chance,
definitely see this movie in a theatre. It's well worth it and a whole
different experience--even for someone like me who's seen the film a hundred
times on video. You don't realize the details that you miss watching it
on television until you see it on the big screen. Plus, in the case of
THE WIZARD OF OZ, the newly restored print released in 1998 is masterful,
and the Technicolor takes on a whole new beauty in the theatre. Next time
it plays in your home town--take my advice--don't miss it!
© 1999 Reel Classics, L.L.C.