Friday, July 11, 2014

The Wizard of Oz FAQ: All That's Left to Know about Life According to Oz -- David J. Hogan

This is a flat-out amazing book.  I'm in awe of the amount of research, time, and effort that were required to produce it.  Not that the book is some kind of heavy academic tome.  It's smoothly written and easy to follow.  And it's massive, over 400 pages of fairly small print, plus an appendix, a bibliography, and an index.  Lots of B&W photos, too.  If there's any fact about the movie that's missing, it's going to take a nitpicker with a microscope to find it.

Not that the book is about only the 1939 movie, in spite of the cover.  There's lots of other material on early stage and film versions and on L. Frank Baum himself.  There are chapters on casting the movie, on the directors, the writers, the stars, and everybody else.  Want to know what else was playing in 1939 when the movie came out?  It's here.  Sound effects?  Covered.  The crew?  You bet.  And there's a more.  A lot more.  There's even an Oz timeline, beginning in 1939.  When the subtitle says "all that's left to know," it's not kidding.

It's going to take me a while to get through everything in the book.  It's best not to try to absorb something like this all at once.  If you're a fan of The Wizard of Oz, the book or the movie, even a casual fan, this is the book for you.  If you're not, the book might make you one.  If you want to know what making a movie was like in the late '30s, you'll find all kinds of interesting facts and stories on every page.  This is fascinating stuff.


Deb said...

Years ago I found a Wizard of Oz DVD at a discount store for a couple of bucks. Without looking too closely, I threw it in my cart, figuring it would make a nice stocking stuffer for one of the girls. It wasn't until I got home that I realized it was an earlier black-and-white version of WofO. Until that moment, I didn't realize there had been other versions! Although not much compared to the 1939 version, it was still interesting to see what they'd done on a far smaller budget.

Deb said...

One more comment: The rather obscure Myrna Loy/Melvyn Douglas 1940 movie, Third Finger Left Hand, uses Somewhere Over the Rainbow, as its incidental music in several scenes. I was very surprised when I first saw it, but I'm guessing it wasn't so completely identified with WofO at that time.

Unknown said...

There's a photo in the book of what's probably the version you got on that DVD. I don't believe the Myrna Loy film is mentioned in the book. I'm a little surprised that it's not.

David Hogan said...

Bill, thanks for the nice thoughts about WIZARD OF OZ FAQ. (You were similarly kind to my 2013 book about film noir.)So glad you enjoyed the effort I made to place OZ in the context of its time. Fascinating period of history, and a fabulous example of the power and beauty of the old Hollywood studio system. And my thanks to Deb for useful comments.

David J. Hogan

Unknown said...

I mentioned the film noir book on a panel I was on last weekend. Still referring to it fairly often.