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The Wizard of Oz (1939) Poster

Alternate Versions

From 1968 to 1984, on NBC-TV and CBS-TV airings of the film, the film was edited to sell more commercial time. As the amount of commercial time on network television gradually increased, more scenes were cut. According to film historian John Fricke, these cuts started with solely a long tracking shot of Munchkin Land after Dorothy arrives there. The rest of the film remained intact. Also according to Fricke, more wholesale cutting of the film took place when CBS regained the TV rights in 1975. By the 1980s, the other excised shots included: the film's dedication in the opening credits, continuity shots of Dorothy and Toto running from the farm, establishing shots of the cyclone, the aforementioned tracking sequence in Munchkinland, the establishing shot of the poppy field, and tiny bits and pieces of the trip to the Wicked Witch's castle. CBS, which had shown the uncut version of the film in 1956, and again from the films first telecast until 1968, finally started to show it uncut again beginning in 1985, by time compressing it. Network airings in the 1990s were uncut and not time-compressed; the film aired in a 2-hour, 10-minute time period.
On 17 June 1955, M-G-M released nationwide a so-called "Wide Screen" 1.85:1 aspect version of the film. It should be noted that this version is not "true widescreen" and really only covered up the top and bottom of the screen with black bars, thus ruining the 1.37:1 Academy aspect ratio in which the film was originally intended to be shown, and in which it was shown until the 1955 re-release. The widescreen ratio was again used for the 1998 theatrical re-release, although it was not specifically advertised as such. Fortunately, this "fake" widescreen version of the movie has not been seen on any television broadcast or home video release of the film. Broadcast, tape and DVD versions are in the television standard 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which shaves off image on both sides from the 1.37:1 theatrical release.
All prints shown/made from 1949 to 1988 have the Kansas scenes in black and white, not the original sepia tones. The 1989 50th anniversary video cassette restores the sepia color of the Kansas scenes. All theatrical re-releases, TV airings, and video releases since then have the scenes in the sepia tones.
In the 1970s a Super-8 version of the film was released for home use that was condensed the film down to 20 minutes. In the 1960's similar procedures were done on "Alice in Wonderland" (1933), "Heidi" (1937), and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1939), each of which were condensed to 45 minutes for showing in school classrooms.
The opening credits were very slightly changed for the 1949 theatrical re-release - watch for the revised MPAA logo, as well as the IATSE logo.
The original 1939 prints incorporated a "stencil printing" process when Dorothy runs to open the farmhouse door before switching to Technicolor; each frame was hand tinted in order to keep the inside of the door in sepia tone. The 2000 Warner dvd release uses this technique.
For the 1998 re-release, Warner Bros. handled the distribution of the film for Turner Entertainment Co. As a result, the re-release prints started with Warner's 75th Anniversary logo. The prints also ended with a short set of restoration and sound remixing credits.
The 2000 Warner Brothers DVD edition suffers from print defects due to shrinkage of the materials used in the restoration, and cuts out one line of Dorothy's which occurs during a reel change when Toto is being taken from Dorothy. As she whimpers Toto's name, there's a stutter edit where an off camera Garland repeats the first few words of a line, "Oh, To, oh Toto." The audio production team (who were doing the restoration) went back to the script and found no correspondence. So, the apparent mistake was excised.
Original preview versions of "The Wizard of Oz" ran several minutes longer than the current version. These are the scenes that were cut or shortened to reduce the running time. These scenes were never included in any officially released version of the film:
  • During the "If I Only had a Brain" sequence, there was originally a spectacular dance that Ray Bolger performed. In the film as officially released, he sings the first and second verses of "If I Only had a Brain", then falls over comically. In the original cut, though, he sings the first and second verses, begins to dance, and eventually a crow takes a large portion of his straw. The scarecrow then flies in the air to get it back, which he does. Then, he does some splits (forward and backward), and then a pumpkin rolls down the road. When it goes through the scarecrow's legs, he is thrown high into the air. Now, he comes down, bounces against the fences, sings a third verse of "If I Only Had a Brain", then falls down. The unedited Ray Bolger Scarecrow dance sequence can be seen in the film 'That's Dancing (1985)'.
  • A scene where the Wicked Witch of the West turns the tin man into a bee hive (as she threatened to do) was cut out for the current version. The cut was covered by flipping the image of the following shot, so that the characters would appear to be in the same positions.
  • During the "Lions and Tigers and Bears" scene, those words are said several more times than in the current version.
  • There was originally a scene where the Witch sends a pink and blue bug (known as the "Jitterbug") into the haunted forest "to take the fight out of" Dorothy and her friends. When the Jitterbug bit one of the characters, heshe would start dancing helplessly. This is perhaps the most famous deleted scene of them all, but the actual footage no longer exists. All there is left of the "Jitterbug" scene is home movies that the composer, Harold Arlen, filmed during rehearsals, and the sound track of the song.
  • A reprise of "Over the Rainbow" which Dorothy sings while locked in the witches castle was cut. Only the soundtrack of the number survived.
In 2004 and 2005 Warner Bros. restored the film using their digital Ultra Resolution technique for the film's 2005 re-release on DVD. This corrected the issues regarding the three Technicolor strips becoming misaligned during the 1998 restoration and also presented the film in its best quality to date.

See also

Trivia | Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Connections | Soundtracks

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