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“The Wonder Behind the Wizard of OZ”

Cleo M. Coppa

Contents of Curriculum Unit 95.02.02:

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My unit is intended for seventh and eighth grade drama students. This unit will be taught over a 6-8 week period. One of the major objectives of my unit is to expose my students to how the classic film The Wizard of Oz was created. In order to accomplish this objective, I will review with my students the process in which L. (Lyman) Frank Baum’s novel The Wizard of Oz was adapted into the 1939 screenplay written by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf.

The first focus of my unit will be L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz. I intend to provide some background information on this author as well as discuss his motivation/inspiration for creating his novel. The reason I wish to begin my unit with biographical information about L. Frank Baum is to give my students an idea of how Baum was able to be creative without the common worries that plague most people. Baum was one of several children. He was born on May 15, 1856 in Chiftenago, New York. Shortly after his birth his family moved to the outskirts of Syracuse. Baum’s parents were wealthy. Baum’s mother named their estate Rose Lawn. His father made his fortune in the Pennsylvania’s oil fields.1

According to David L. Greene and Dick Martin in their book, The Oz Scrapbook, Baum went to the Peekskill Military Academy in 1868 and remained there for two years. Greene and Martin assert that Baum’s father shared the view with other wealthy fathers of the time that their sons should attend military school. In The Annotated Wizard of Oz, the author Michael Patrick Hearn states that Baum’s mother wanted her son to go to military school with the hope that this type of school would cure his daydreaming. Regardless of Baum’s parents’ reasons, both parents felt that a military academy was where their son should go at this point in his life. Because he had lived in luxury, Baum was unable to deal with austere military life. Frank Baum withdrew from the military academy after suffering a seizure, a condition that was described as a heart attack. Thus, it was decided that he was too weak to attend military school. Baum’s military school experience would have an influence on the creation of his classic The Wizard of Oz.

During Baum’s 20s, he was an actor, a playwright and managed several theaters owned by his father. Baum’s wealthy family helped him indulge in his many career pursuits after leaving military school. Baum first became involved in a publication venture with his younger brother. They produced a journal known as the Rose Lawn Journal. Afterwards, Baum, along with a friend, Thomas G. Alford, created a publication known as The Empire, which was a monthly amateur newspapers However, at this time in Baum’s life drama and acting were his main interests. Baum used two stage names: Lewis F. Baum and George Brooks. Baum was hired by Shakespearean troupe because his father provided the costumes.

In 1882, Baum wrote his first play, a melodrama entitled The Maid of Arran, based on William Blacks’ novel, A Princess of Thule. Baum wrote the music, the lyrics, and played the lead in his play. Members of Baum’s family, including aunts and uncles, had roles in his production, which was also financed by his father. The play received great reviews, but failed financially. Since Baum had the good fortune to be born into a supportive, wealthy family willing to finance his indecisiveness in career pursuits, he was constantly changing his pursuits whenever he encountered difficulty or failure.

Stability finally entered Baum’s life with his marriage in 1882 to the suffragette Maude Gage. Gage was the daughter of Matilda Joslyn Gage, an acquaintance of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cudy Stanton. In my opinion, these women had an influence on Baum and Maude: two of their children’s middle names were Joslyn and Stanton. Baum went to work for the family’s oil business in Pennsylvania from 1882 until the death of his father in 1887. Baum continued to write during this period does state that the Aunt Jane’s Nieces series was almost as popular and sold almost as well as the Oz series.

After Baum wrote his first two childrens’ books, he teamed up with an old acquaintance named William Wallace Denslow who was a newspaper cartoonist and poster designer. Together they created a book called Father Goose. By 1901, 60,000 copies of this book had been sold.

The next joint venture of Baum and Denslow would be The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Many of Baum’s ideas for Oz came from stories he told his sons or things that happened during his or his children’s childhood. For example, the Scarecrow character originated in a recurring nightmare from Baum’s own childhood in which he was being chased by a scarecrow. Other ideas came from Baum’s experiences at Rose Lawn and while he was at Peekskill Military Academy. In the Oz Scrapbook, the authors David L. Greene and Dick Martin assert that Rose Lawn is mentioned by name in Baum’s 1901 fantasy Dot and Tot of Merryland and, more important, they assert that the Emerald City may owe some of its opulence to the Baum estate of Rose Lawn.3 The soldier with green whiskers of the army of Oogaboo of the Tik- Tok Man of Oz may be seen as Baum . . . s reflections of his early experiences at military academy.4 The ideas behind the creation of Oz were not limited to these sources, for the name Oz is believed to have come from a filing cabinet labeled O-Z. Students should be aware of other titles that Baum’s classic book was known by before it was published in 1900 as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (in time, this Baum book would be referred to simply as The Wizard of Oz.). They were as follows: The City of Oz, The Great City of the Great Oz., The Emerald City, From Kansas to Fairyland, The Fairyland of Oz., The Land of Oz. In my opinion, the variety of names that Baum’s book was known by reflects the indecisiveness that was a characteristic of L. Frank Baum’s life as stated earlier in the unit.

After reviewing with my students some of the key points in L. Frank Baum’s life, I intend to have my class review Baum’s unabridged version of The Wizard of Oz. I do not intend to have each student read the entire book. I will assign each student to read one chapter in Baum’s book, which I will furnish to them. It will be each student’s responsibility to provide a brief oral synopsis of their assigned chapter. To insure that my students cover the key aspects in their chapter, I will provide them with a set of questions that they must address in their oral synopsis. There are twenty-four chapters in Baum’s unabridged version. The chapters, questions, and answers are as follows:

Chapter 1—The Cyclone

1. Who did Dorothy live with? (Her aunt and uncle.)
2. What were their names? (Aunt Em/Uncle Henry.)
3. Where did Dorothy live? (Kansas.)
4. What was the name of her dog? (Toto.)
5. What is a cyclone? (A terrific disturbance of the atmosphere in which a storm of winds whirls about in a long funnel shape cloud.)
6. What was the main thing that happened in this chapter? (A cyclone hit Aunt Em’s and Uncle Henry’s farm.)

Chapter 2—The Council with Munchkins

1. Where did Dorothy’s house land? (In the Land of the Munchkins.)
2. Who did Dorothy first meet? (Three men and a woman.)
3. Who was the woman? (The Witch of the North.)
4. Who was killed when Dorothy’s house landed? (The wicked Witch of the East.)
5. What happened to her body? (Her body disappeared, leaving only her silver shoes.)
6. What are the names of the people who popped out after the witch was killed? (The Munchkins.)
7. What did the Witch of the North give Dorothy? (The Wicked Witch of the East’s silver shoes.)
8. Where was Dorothy told to go to get back to Kansas? (The City of Emeralds.)
9. Who was she told to see? (The Great Wizard of Oz.)
10. What road did Dorothy have to follow? (The Yellow Brick Road.)

Chapter 3—How Dorothy Saved the Scarecrow

1. Who was Bog? (A rich Munchkin Dorothy ate supper with on the first night of her journey.)
2. Who did Dorothy meet in the cornfield the next day? (The Scarecrow.)
3. How did Dorothy help the Scarecrow? (She helped him down off the stakes.)
4. Why does the Scarecrow go to Oz with Dorothy? (To obtain a brain.)
5. What is the one thing that the Scarecrow is afraid of? (A lighted match.)

Chapter 4—The Road Through the Forest

1. What was the road like through the forest? (Rough and bumpy.)
2. What does the Scarecrow reveal to Dorothy while they walk through the forest? (How the farmer put the Scarecrow together.)
3. Once the farmer put the Scarecrow in the field, did it keep the crows away? (At first yes, but later the crows got wise that the Scarecrow was just made of straw and began to eat the corn.)

Chapter 5—The Rescue of the Tin WoodMan

1. What did Dorothy and the Scarecrow go looking for in the morning? (Water.)
2. Who did Dorothy and the Scarecrow find near the spring? (The Tin Woodman.)
3. What was the Tin Woodman’s problem? (He was rusted.)
4. What did the Tin Woodman want Oz to do for him? (Give him a heart.)
5. How and why did the Woodman become the Tin Woodman? (The Woodman wanted to marry a Munchkin maiden. The maiden lived with an old woman who did not want her to marry. The old woman went to the Wicked Witch of the East to ask for help. The witch put a hex on the Woodman’s ax causing it to cut off different parts of his body. Each time a body part was cut off, a tinsmith replaced it, until eventually the Woodman’s entire body was tin.)

Chapter 6—The Cowardly Lion

1. Who did Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman meet next while traveling down the Yellow Brick Road? (The Cowardly Lion.)
2. What did Dorothy do to the Cowardly Lion? (She hit him on the nose to prevent him from biting Toto.)
3. What was the Lion’s problem? (He was a coward.)
4. What did the Lion want most of all? (Courage.)

Chapter 7—The Journey to the Great Oz

1. As Dorothy and the others continued on their journey, what did they encounter? (A very large ditch with jagged rocks at the bottom.)
2. How did they cross the ditch? (One at a time they got on the Lion . . . s back and the Lion jumped over the ditch.)
3. What are Kalidahs? (They are monstrous beasts with bodies like bears and heads like tigers.)
4. How did they cross the next obstacle(a much larger ditch) in the road? (The Tin Woodman cut down a tree which served as a bridge.)
5. How did they get away from Kalidahs when they attacked? (The Tin Woodman chopped one end of the tree bridge causing the Kalidahs to fall and die in the deep ditch.)
6. What was the final obstacle Dorothy and her friends encounter in the forest? (A river.)
7. How were they going to cross the river? (Build a raft.)

Chapter 8—The Deadly Poppy Field

1. As they crossed the river what happened to the Scarecrow? (He got stuck in the mud in the middle of the river on a pole as the raft drifted downstream out of control.)
2. What happened to Dorothy, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion? (The Lion jumped in the river, the Tin Woodman grabbed the Lion’s tail, the Lion pulled the raft to the other side of the river.)
3. How did the Scarecrow get rescued? (Dorothy convinced a large stork to fly to the middle of the river and get the Scarecrow.) 4. What happened to this group after the Scarecrow was rescued? (they ran into a huge poppy field which made Dorothy go to sleep.) 5. How did Dorothy get out of the poppy field? ( the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow carried her out.) 6. What happened to the Lion? (He fell asleep a short distance from the end of the poppy field; they left the Lion because he was too heavy to carry.)

Chapter 9—The Queen of the Field Mice

1. How was the Queen of the field mice saved from the wildcat? (The Tin Woodman chopped the wildcat’s head off.)
2. How did the Queen of the field mice repay the Tin Woodman? (By agreeing to help save the Lion form the poppy field.)
3. Briefly explain how the Queen and her field mice subjects helped save the Lion. (The Tin Woodman made a wooden truck, then the Queen and her subjects helped load the Lion on the truck, then with the help of the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow, the Queen and her field mice subjects pulled the Lion from the poppy field.)

Chapter 10—The Guardian of the Gate

1. After the Lion was removed from the poppy field and had awakened what was the color of all of the houses they saw? (Green.)
2. With whom did Dorothy and the others spend the night? (They spent the night in a good sized house with a woman, two children, and a man.)
3. What did the man say The Wizard of Oz looked like? (The Wizard takes on any form he wishes).
4. What did the Guardian of the Gate look like? (A little man the size of a Munchkin who was green from head to toe).
5. What did the Guardian have Dorothy and the others wear? (Green spectacles which he locked on their heads.)

Chapter 11—The Wonderful Emerald City of Oz

1. What was the color of everything and everyone in the Emerald City? (Green.)
2. Where did The Wizard of Oz live in the Emerald City? (The Palace of Oz.)
3. How many people were allowed to see The Wizard of Oz out Dorothy’s group? (One per day.)
4. In what room did each visitor meet Oz? (The Throne Room.)
5. How did Dorothy get the mark on her forehead? (The mark was where the good Witch of the North kissed her.)
6. What did The Wizard of Oz ask Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion to do in exchange for his help? (Kill the wicked Witch of the West.)
7. What did The Wizard of Oz look like when he met Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion? (the Wizard took on several different forms, to Dorothy he had an enormous head with no body, to the Scarecrow he took on the form of a lovely lady, to the Tin Woodman he had the face of rhinoceros with five eyes, five arms, and five legs, and to he appeared as a ball of fire.)

Chapter 12—The Search for the Wicked Witch

 1. Where did the Guardian of the Gate tell Dorothy and the others to find the wicked Witch of the West? (in the country of the Winkies.)
 2. How many eyes did the Wicked Witch of the West have? (One.)
 3. What did the witch do when she spotted Dorothy? (She sent a pack of wolves to kill her.)
 4. What happened? (The Tin Woodman cut the heads off the forty wolves.)
 5. What did the witch do after the wolves failed in the mission? (She sent a flock of wild crows to peck their eyes out.)
 6. What happened these crows? (The Scarecrow twisted the necks off the forty crows.)
 7. What did the witch do next? What happened? (She sent a swarm of bees to sting them to death; they covered Dorothy, Toto, and the Lion with the straw from the Scarecrow, when the bees tried to sting the Tin Woodman their stingers broke off and they died.)
 8. What happened next? (The witch sent her slaves known as Winkies to kill them, but they were scared by the roar of the Lion.)
 9. Then what did the witch do? (She used the Golden Cap to summon the Winged Monkeys; she ordered the monkeys to destroy everyone but the Lion.)
10. What did the Winged Monkeys do? (The monkeys picked up the Tin Woodman and dropped him over some sharp rocks which badly damaged him. The monkeys pulled all the straw the Scarecrow and put his clothes onto the branches of a tall tree. They picked up the Lion and returned him to the witch’s palace. The monkeys refused to harm Dorothy because she had the mark on her forehead left from where the Good Witch had kissed her.)
11. What did the wicked Witch do to Dorothy and the Lion? (The witch made Dorothy do many harsh chores and she tried to starve the Lion for refusing to obey her.)
12. What was the wicked Witch’s plan to get Dorothy’s silver shoes? (the Witch placed a bar of iron that was invisible to the human eye in the middle of the kitchen floor so that Dorothy would trip and fall with the hope that her silver shoes would come off.)
13. Did the wicked Witch’s plan work completely? (No, Dorothy only lost one shoe.)
14. What happened next? (Dorothy became very angry and demanded the Witch return the other silver shoe. The Witch’s refusal made Dorothy so angry that she threw a bucket water on the Witch, at which point the wicked Witch melted and died.)

Chapter 13—The Rescue

1. Who helped Dorothy and theLion resue the Tin Woodman? (The Winkies brought the Tin Woodman back to the wicked Witch’s castle and their tinsmith fixed him.)
2. How was the Scarecrow rescued? (The Tin Woodsman chopped down the tree that held the Scarecrow’s clothes with fresh straw, making the Scarecrow like new.)
3. When Dorothy went to the witch’s cupboard to get food for their journey back to the Emerald city, what did she take besides food? (The Golden Cap.)

Chapter 14—The Winged Monkeys

1. How did Dorothy learn the secret of the Golden Cap? ( The Queen of the Mice told her that the cap could be use to summon the Winged Monkeys.)
2. Why did Dorothy and the others need the help of the Winged Monkeys? (The Emerald City was a great distance from where they were at the time.)
3. Why did the Winged Monkeys have to obey the holder the Golden Cap? (Because the grandfather of the King of the Winged Monkeys had ordered his subjects to drop Quelala, the groom-to-be of a powerful princess of the North named Gaylette into a river as a joke. Gayelette did not find this and became very angry. She agreed to spare the lives of the Winged Monkeys if they agreed to grant three wishes to whomever held the Golden Cap. The first person to hold the cap was Quelala.)

Chapter 15—The Discovery of Oz the Terrible

1. What made The Wizard of Oz finally agree to see Dorothy and her friends? (The Scarecrow threatened to call the Winged Monkeys and have them force the Wizard to see them.)
2. Who was The Wizard of Oz? (He was a ventriloquist from Omaha.)
3. How did the Wizard create the different forms that Dorothy and her friends saw when they first met the Wizard? (The forms were all illusions created using costumes and paper and talent as a ventriloquist.) 4. How did the Wizard get to the Emerald City? (The Wizard became a balloonist for a circus after he became tired of being a ventriloquist. One day, when he went up the ropes got twisted and he floated high above the clouds and landed in a green and beautiful country. The people thought he was a great Wizard and were afraid of him and were willing to do anything he said. So he had them build a palace and he named the city the Emerald City.)
5. Why was everything green in the Emerald City? (The Wizard made everyone wear green glasses so they would believe that the city was an Emerald City.)
6. What did Dorothy and her friends call the Wizard after this meeting? (The Great and Terrible Humbug.)

Chapter 16—The Magic Art of the Great Humbug

1. How did the Wizard give the Scarecrow brains? (He removed his head and stuffed it with bran, pins, and needles and told the Scarecrow that he had bran new brains. This satisfied the Scarecrow.)
2. How did the Wizard give the Woodman a heart? (The Wizard opened the Woodman’s chest and placed a pretty heart made of silk stuffed with sawdust there.)
3. How did the Wizard give the Lion courage? (He made the Lion drink a green solution which he told the Lion would give him courage.)

Chapter 17—How the Balloon was Launched

1. How did the Wizard plan on getting Dorothy back to Kansas? (By making a balloon of silk and using hot air.)
2. Why did the Wizard decide to leave Oz and go back to Kansas with Dorothy? (He was tired of being a humbug. Also, he was afraid of how the people of the Emerald City would react if they knew the truth.)
3. Who did the Wizard tell the people of the Emerald City would rule them in his absence? (The Scarecrow.)
4. What happened on the day the balloon was set to take off? (Just when the balloon was to take off Dorothy could not find Toto. When Dorothy went to get Toto (who started to chase a cat), the ropes on the balloon broke and the Wizard left without her.)

Chapter 18—Away to the South

1. Who did Dorothy and her friends call on to help Dorothy get back to Kansas? (The Winged Monkeys.)
2. Were they able to help Dorothy? (No, the Winged Monkeys were not allowed to leave this country.)
3. What did the soldier with the green whiskers suggest? (He suggested that Dorothy go to Glenda, the Witch of the South, whose palace was located on the edge of the desert.)

Chapter 19—Attacked by the Fighting Trees

1. What happened to Dorothy and her friends as they traveled through the forest to see Glenda? (They were attacked by the trees.)
2. How did they get away from their attackers? (After the Tin Woodman axed one tree, the others allowed them to pass.)
3. What did this group encounter when they reached the end of the forest? (A huge wall of white china.) 4. How did they overcome this obstacle? (The Woodman made a ladder.)

Chapter 20—The Dainty China Country

1. What was on the other side of the china wall? (A stretch of country with a smooth floor, shining and white, and small houses made of china painted in bright colors. The people were small too!)
2. Whom did Dorothy and her friends frighten? What happened? (A cow. The cow broke her leg off when she kicked the milkmaid, the cow also nicked the milkmaid’s knee.)
3. What did the Lion break when he was jumping over the wall as they were leaving the dainty china country? (The church.)
4. What did Dorothy want to bring back to Kansas from this country? (A china princess.)
5. Why didn’t she take this person? (Because once the china princess left this country she would stiffen and lose her ability to talk.)

Chapter 21—The Lion Becomes the King of Beasts

1 . How did the Lion become the King of Beasts in the forest? (By killing the monster of the forest.)
2. What did this monster look like? (The monster looked like a great spider with a body as big as an elephant and legs as long as tree trunks. This monster had eight legs.)

Chapter 22—The Country of the Quadlings

1. What was stopping Dorothy and the others from crossing the steep hill and reaching the country of the Quadlings? (The Hammerheads.)
2. How did they get past these creatures? (The Winged Monkeys.)
3. What did the Quadlings look like? (They were short and fat and looked chubby and good natured.)

Chapter 23—The Good Witch Grants Dorothy’s Wish

1. What did Glenda ask from Dorothy in exchange for her telling Dorothy how to get back to Kansas? (The Golden Cap.)
2. What was going to happen to the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion when Dorothy returned to Kansas? (The Scarecrow would return to rule the Emerald City; the Tin Woodman would return and rule the Winkies; the Lion would return and be the King of Beasts in the grand old forest.)
3. What did Glenda use her three wishes with the Golden Cap for (To return the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion to their respective kingdoms.)
4. How did Dorothy get back to Kansas? (By clicking the heels of her silver shoes three times.)

Chapter 24—Home Again

1. Who did Dorothy see when she first returned to Kansas? (Aunt Em.)
**Because Chapter 24 is very short, I intend to have the student assigned to this chapter to take half of the question of the Chapter 12 question list.

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The Film Version

After my students have made their Wizard of Oz chapter presentations, I will show the film, The Wizard of Oz. It is at this time that I will ask my students to discuss the similarities and differences between the Baum’s book and the 1939 film. When my students look at how the book and the film begin they will notice that both begin with a cyclone. From this point differences begin to surface. In the film, the farm hands on Aunt Em’s and Uncle Henry’s farm become three main characters in Dorothy’s fantasy. Also, the film version introduces the characters who will portray The Wizard of Oz and the wicked Witch of the West, whereas in Baum’s novel the reader is only introduced to Dorothy, Aunt Em, and Uncle Henry. I think this would be a good point at which to have a discussion with my students concerning why it is often the case that when a book is made into a movie that differences will always occur. I intend to point out to my students that a book and film version of the book are usually created by different people, thus differences will naturally occur. Also, it is not possible to include every part of the book in the film, because there are limitations that film makers are subject to that did not inhibit an author.

As I continue my discussion with my students concerning the similarities and differences between the book and film, my students should see that even though differences exist, the main story line is basically the same. One aspect students should be made cognizant of, especially if they don’t make this observation themselves, is the fact that some events that both the book and film share include are presented at different times in the book and film, as, for example, when Dorothy meets the wicked Witch of the West for the first time. In the book this meeting does not occur until Dorothy goes to the Witch’s castle on the mission to destroy the witch, while in the film Dorothy meets the wicked Witch soon after her house falls on and kills the wicked Witch of the East.

Also, although the book and the film may both include certain events, the reasons why things occur are different. This can not be made more evident than by the example of the killing of the Wicked Witch of the West. In Baum’s novel, Dorothy throws the water on the wicked Witch because she is angry at the witch for not returning one of her silver shoes. In the film, Dorothy throws the water on the witch (inadvertently) while attempting to douse the fire with which the witch ignited the Scarecrow.

There is one more point that I hope my students will notice. This involves the Emerald City. In both the film and the novel, everything in the Emerald City is supposed to be green. In the film this green effect is created by the actors’ lines and when the film is finally colorized, while in the book this effect is created when the main characters and the people of the Emerald City wear green spectacles which are locked on their heads. One last difference that I wish to discuss with my students concerns the poppy field scenario. In the book only Dorothy and the Lion are affected by the poppy field fragrances and fall asleep. Their rescue is effected by the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Queen of the Mice, whereas in the film the Wicked Witch is the reasons why Dorothy and all of her friends failing asleep in the poppy field by sprinkling a sleeping potion into her crystal ball which fell over the poppy field. In this scenario their rescues is attributed to the Glenda(the Good Witch) causing it to snow which awakens the entire group.

There are some major differences between the book and film that I believe need to be highlighted with my students because my students need to understand that filmmakers have a tendency to change certain events and items found in the novel for technical and visual reasons. One is in the color of wicked Witch of the East’s shoes. In the book they are silver, while in the film they are ruby red. I do not think that the argument could be made that the silver shoes would be too blinding on film because the original film version was done in black and white. Another difference that I hope my students point out in the discussion is the fact that the book’s account of what happens with the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Woodman when Dorothy leaves to go home to Kansas differs drastically from that of the film. In the film The Wizard of Oz has the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion aiding one another in the ruling of Oz, bringing with them their individual strengths. However, in Baum’s novel, when Dorothy departs to go home to Kansas these three characters have a kingdom of their own over which they will rule. I believe this is due to the fact of that the film omits certain parts of Baum’s book. In my opinion, the omitted parts of the book that contribute to this are the chapters dealing with the Winkies and the one in which the Lion becomes the King of the Beasts. One other difference between the book and film that I wish to discuss with my students involves the talking trees. In Baum’s novel the trees are attacking Dorothy and the members of her group by trying to grab them, while in the film version there are talking apple trees that slap the hands of any one attempting to take an apple.

It is not my intention to list every similarity or difference, that exists between the Baum’s novel and the 1939 film version because there are just too many to list in a unit of this size. It is my hope that I have given the reader of my unit some idea of some of the types of things to look for when doing this part of the unit Even though I don’t think it is necessary to have each student read Baum’s novel(individually),l do believe it is necessary for the teacher to read Baum’s unabridged copy of The Wizard of Oz.

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The 1939 Film Version

It is at this point of the unit I would like to provide and discuss with my students some information concerning the making of the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz. This film was made by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio. Samuel Goldwyn had bought the film rights to Baum’s book on January 26, 1934 for $40,000 dollars according to Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf authors of The Wizard of Oz: The Screenplay. The film had a two million dollar budget. The production of this film began in October, 1938 according to the introduction written by Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West) in Aljean Harmetz’s The Making of the Wizard of Oz. Ms. Hamilton goes on to state that there were two directors hired prior to Victor Fleming, who was the director of the 1939 film. The two prior directors were Richard Thorpe and George Cukor. Even though Victor Fleming is given the sole screen credit for the direction of this film, he did not complete it. With three weeks left to wrap the film up, Fleming was called back to MGM to complete Gone With the Wind. King Vidor completed the filming of the film. Many of my students, especially after viewing the film, might assume that the principal actors worked together most of the time during this production. However, according to Hamilton she saw very little of Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow), Bert Lahr (the Lion), and Jack Haley(the Tin Woodman) except for when they met in the makeup in the early morning. Hamilton went on to state that most of her scenes were with Judy Garland (Dorothy) , the Winged Monkeys, or herself.

The person in charge of making The Wizard of Oz for MGM was Mervyn LeRoy who had replaced Irving G. Thalberg, who died in 1936. In my opinion Thalberg would have probably have made this film if he had not died because of his MGM reputation for making some of the best movies in America. Arthur Freed, who wanted to be the producer of this film, became LeRoy’s assistant in the production. It was the custom of MGM to assign several screenwriters to develop a screenplay. This production was no exceptions One MGM screenwriter that would emerge as a leading contender with a viable screenplay was Noel Langley. MGM was not totally satisfied with Langley’s screenplay. It was at this time that the Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf were assigned to assist Langley. What resulted was the 1939 classic film, The Wizard of Oz. One more person’s contribution’s must be noted in this screenplay. That person is John Lee Mahin who had collaborated on several previous projects with the director Victor Fleming. Mahin had made several key revisions to the final script. Among them were the following: 1) he made Dorothy the central character from the first shot 2) he added the third farm hand named Zeke who became the Lion 3) introduced Toto’s chasing Miss Gulch’s cat in the balloon scene at the end.

As the screenplay was in the process of being developed, LeRoy’s attention began to focus on the problem of developing a musical score for the film. Arthur Freed suggested to Mervyn LeRoy that he hire Harold Arlen and Edgar Yipsel(Yip) Harburg to write the music and lyrics to the songs needed for the film. LeRoy accepted the suggestion, thus the problem of whom would develop the musical score had been solved. As one views the film you notice that each song went along with the plot.

Judy Garland was sixteen when the filming of The Wizard of began. Judy’s real name was Frances Gumm. According to the other actors in Harmetz’s book, The Making of The Wizard of Oz, she was a very cheery and bright person. She was a joy to be around. Judy always wanted to hear something funny so she could laugh. Ray Bolger said that Garland’s acting instinct was impeccable. Yip Harburg said Judy could learn a song faster than anyone he had seen. It would seem that Judy Garland was too good to be true. Having been a child star would take its toll at a later point in her life when she became an alcoholic and developed serious mental disorders, but as far as her performance and behavior in the filming of The Wizard of Oz she was considered completely professional. I think my students will find it interesting to know that Judy Garland was not MGM’s first choice to play the role of Dorothy. Some people in MGM wanted Shirley Temple to play Dorothy, Shirley Temple was ten years old at the time and they felt that she was closer to the age of someone who would believe in fairy tales. But, due to a contractual commitment to Fox, Shirley Temple was not available. During the filming Judy Garland had to endure two hardships: she was kept on a strict diet and she was forced to wear a binding cloth to keep her breasts down.

Judy Garland was not the only actor on the cast that had to endure hardships during the making of this film. The other key actors, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, and Margaret Hamilton had some hardships under which they had to labor. Their major hardships seem to revolve around the makeup they had wear during the filming. It took up to an hour in some cases to put the makeup on and another hour to remove it. The makeup and costumes these actors had to wear made them feel uncomfortable and restricted their movement.6 This they had to endure in the six months it took to film the movie.

The other key actors in this film were the Munchkins. The Munchkins were played by midgets. Off screen these midgets were nothing like the darling little people they played as Munchkins. Mervyn LeRoy, the producer, said that, “We had a hell of a time with those little guys’. Reportedly these midget actors were involved in sex orgies. Police had to be stationed on every floor of the hotel to stop this lewd behavior. Noel Langley, one of the screenwriters, described these actors as being so raunchy that the studio was forced to provide armed guards for the showgirls.7 In her later years (Judy Garland) stated that these Munchkin actors were drunks who drank every night and later had to be picked up by the police in butterfly nets.8 Hugh Fordin, in his book on Arthur Freed, describes the Munchkins as “The most deformed, unpleasant bunch of adults imaginable”. Fordin went on to say, ‘This unholy assemblage of pimps, hookers, and gamblers infested the Metro lot and all of the community”.9 It must be stated that there were a few Munchkin actors who did not participate in this debauchery. However, this goes to show that appearances, especially in films, can be very deceiving. On screen, these actors brought to their roles a touch of fantasy and vulnerability which led audiences to believe that the Munchkins were adorable innocent characters.

I wish to conclude my unit by having my students create their own version of The Wizard of Oz which will be video taped. Students will use Baum’s novel and its film version in helping them create their production. The first part of their production will involve them in creating a screenplay. After that I will arrange for my class to visit the public television station so they can be exposed to the technology involved in creating a video. At this time my class will work on making the costumes and sets they will need in completing their production. My unit will conclude with the videotaping of my student’s production.

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Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans 1-2

Each student will read one chapter from the unabridged version of The Wizard of Oz and present a brief synopsis of their chapter.

Content Outline:
Chapters 1- 24 , a set of questions to guide students(the questions are found in the unit)


1. Assign each student a chapter in Baum’s novel.
2. Give to each student a set of questions they must be sure to answer in their presentation. Inform students that they can present additional information if they wish.

In order to cover all 24 chapters it will take 2 lessons.

Lesson Plan 3

Students will write a screenplay for their video version of the ‘Wizard of Oz”.

Content Outline:
The Wizard of Oz: The Screenplay”, “The Scrapbook of Oz”, “The Annotated Wizard of Oz’, ‘The Wizard of Oz”(unabridged version)


1. First discuss what a screenplay is and what it includes besides an actor’s lines.
2. Explain to students that they will be writing a screenplay of the ‘Wizard of Oz’, their own version.
4. Explain to students that MGM which created the film assigned several screenwriters to write the “Oz’ screenplay and chose the version that they liked best. Tell students we are going to do the same.

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1. Hearn, Patrick Michael. The Annotated Wizard of Oz. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1973, 12.
2. Ibid., p. 13.
3 Greene, L. David and Martin, Dick. The Oz Scrapbook. New York: Random House, 1977. 2.
4. Greene, Ibid. 3.
5. Harmetz, Aljean. The Making of The Wizard of Oz. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977. 31.
6. Ibid., p. 169.
7. Ibid., p. 188.
8. Ibid., p. 188.
9. Ibid., p. 188.

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Student Bibliography

Baum, Frank L. The Wizard of Oz. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1969. This is Baum’s unabridged version of his novel. This is the book I will use in my class. It contains excellent illustrations as well as defines key words in the margin.**

Greene, L. David, and Martin, Dick. The Oz Scrapbook. New York: Random House, 1977. Excellent source. Provides many interesting details about the making of the film. It is written in a style that students will be able to understand and at the same time learn many interesting things about the “Wizard of Oz”.

Langley, Noel, and et al. The Wizard of Oz: The Screenplay. New York: Dell Publishing, 1989. Excellent student and teacher resource. This book contains the screenplay from which the 1939 film was adapted. It also contains an excellent introduction by Michael Patrick Hearn who is considered an an expert on Baum.**

**Indicates that the text also can be used as a resource for teachers.

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Student Resource

Film—Victor Fleming’s 1939—The Wizard of Oz—starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Margaret Hamilton.

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Teacher Bibliography

CO, Stephen. The Munchkins Remember: The Wizard of Oz and Beyond. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1989. Contains many illustrations that would be good to show to your class when discussing the Munchkins. Provides information on Munchkin actors during and after film.

Eyles, Allen. The World of Oz. Exeter, Devon: Black Pig Editions, 1985. Gives basic details about film.

Frank, Gerold. Judy. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1975. This biography concerning the life of Judy Garland covers this actor’s entire life. It does a good job of describing the life of Judy Garland before, during, and after the filming of Wizard of Oz.

Fricke, John. The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial. New York, N.Y.: Warner Books, 1989. As the title implies this book contains many pictures celebrating the 50th anniversary of the film with pictures of the film’s major players.

Harmetz, Aijean. The Making of The Wizard of Oz. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977. This was one of the most helpful resources I found in the writing of my unit. It provided details on all aspects of the making of this film. This book is an excellent source for information on all the major players who were involved in the making of the film.

Hearn, Michael Patrick. The Annotated Wizard Oz. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1973 Contains a great deal important information concerning Baum’s life and his novel by a person who is considered an expert on Baum.

McClelland, Doug. Down the Yellow Brick Road: The Making of The Wizard of Oz. New York: Pyramid, 1976. This book provides an extensive look into the making of the film. It contains many good illustrations.

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