Monday, August 24, 2009

Monologue Over the Rainbow.

Jose here trying to stop obsessing about The Wizard of Oz without any success...

The beloved masterpiece turns 70 tomorrow and remains as fresh and delightful as the day when it first came out.
Its timeless success is owed to what I think is the greatest monologue in film history, Judy Garland's iconic delivery of "Over the Rainbow".

As Dorothy Gale, Garland puts onscreen the ultimate performance of misunderstood childhood; you know the one, where we make everything way bigger than what it is, where we drown ourselves in a glass of water and the easiest solution is always the one that comes in the shape of escapism. For Dorothy it's the threat that her dog Toto will be taken away from her for destroying one of her neighbor's gardens.

Her Aunt asks her to "find a place where you won't get yourself into any trouble" which prompts the girl to belt out the Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg tune, as she looks towards the sky wondering if whatever is beyond the rainbow will help her.

The Academy Award winning song had originally been removed from the film after producers deemed it "dull" following a preview. Fortunately they had a change of heart and re-inserted what has become an anthem for those in need of assistance in times of great stress. Here is the scene for those who have never seen it or simply crave to enjoy it again:

Interestingly the song also has some lines and verses which are rarely used and have remained obscure, but help to add more to that feeling of angst inside Dorothy. This introductory verse for example, is limited mostly to theatrical productions of "Oz" and was sung merely once by Garland herself.

When all the world is a hopeless jumble
And the raindrops tumble all around,
Heaven opens a magic lane
When all the clouds darken up the skyway,
There's a rainbow highway to be found
Leading from your window pane
To a place behind the sun,
Just a step beyond the rain

It seems as if it would've helped the song obtain more depth, but considering how flawless the sequence is, the verse is important if only in terms of historical value.

There is also a second chorus,

Someday I'll wake and rub my eyes
And in that land beyond the skies,
You'll find me
I'll be a laughing daffodil
And leave the silly cares that fill
My mind behind me

which has been used even less times (Jewel sang it once).

What becomes clear from these unused pieces is that the place Dorothy sang about was always Oz and that the film's finale, again perfect and not to be tampered with, only adds a touch of melancholy to the fact that Dorothy found the place she dreamed of but had to give it away.

If that happiness/sadness duality isn't magic, I don't know what is then...



what a lovely and unexpected choice for monday's monologue.

and the duality you mentioned is so a part of Garland's mystique too the little girl/big voice and the actress that delighted but always seemed sad, too.

ugh. i just love her. and i never get sick of this movie.

anotherqueerjubu said...

TWOZ was the first movie I ever saw in a theater, at age 2. Saw it every year since at least once. Which means I have seen it at least 57 times. Including one time on acid at a World Science Fiction Convention in Boston.

I am grateful that the Kansas sequences were filmed by King Vidor, who understood the Depression and the bleak landscape of middle America.

I am grateful that OTR wasn't cut. And that Jitterbug was.

I am always amazed at the story that the coat worn by Frank Morgan was actually previously owned by Baum.

And I love the way this film permeates American consciousness -- in fact, there were several Oz films and stage productions before 1939. The evolution of these productions that led to the 39 film is a story in itself, apart from the usual histories of this film on its own.

And I will always remember Margaret Hamilton in Brewster McCloud, finally wearing the Ruby Slippers.

Thanks for this post.

Andrew K. said...

Nice post, and it's unfortunate that those nice words are forgotten. When Katherine McPhee was on idol she sang the When all the clouds darken up the skyway...and people were stupid enough to say she had added words to the song.
People are so stupid sometimes.


a lot of people actually sing the intro when they cover it. i think Mandy Patinkin's version on his first album has the whole intro too.

stella said...

i think it interesting that the whole movie (or was it based on a book?) was actually a political allegory for the gold-standard (hence the yellow brick road) issue at the time.

Henry said...

Just saw a production of Wicked here in San Diego, which is a clever re-imagination of The Wizard of Oz. I had half expected Dorothy to pop up and sing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," but alas, it did not happen.

Wayne B said...

Incredible write-up on one of the best scenes in moviedom. Like many people, this was my first film (well, that I remember.) The song still gets me.

Chris Na Taraja said...

Love the spanish subtitles. Thankfully those extra verses aren't usually done...less is more.

One Easter, when I was five, my brother and cousins found my dad's box of Playboys in basement. I went upstairs to get a drink, and when i was running down to the basement again, my father said, "Look Chris, the Wizard of Oz is on!" And I said, "We're looking at boobies!"

Now I gave up boobies a while ago, but I still watch the WOO!