‘Wizard of Oz’ in Pomona

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On Sunday the Fox Theater in Pomona will screen its first English-language movie in what’s believed to be more than 30 years: “The Wizard of Oz.” Tickets are a mere $2 for adults and $1 for children. The screening is at 2 p.m. but if you get there earlier (doors open at 12:30 p.m.), you can get a tour.

I used to watch “Oz” on CBS back in the ’70s when it was a Halloween perennial. Scared the heck out of me, especially the first time, but in a good way — right winning out in the end and all. But man, that giant floating wizard head with the smoke and booming voice, the Wicked Witch, the flying monkeys, the three friends donning furry guard hats and uniforms to enter the castle to rescue Dorothy…whew.

I’ve seen “Oz” once or maybe twice since then in theaters at one re-release or another, where the B&W sequences were restored to the original sepia, if memory serves. It was still great.

Any memories of “Oz” you’d like to share?

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  • John Clifford

    When my son was very small and had just gone to bed one day, his mother was complaining about the summer heat and said, “I’m melting.” This caused nightmares for a long time to come.

    [Ha ha! -- DA]

  • Gino L. Filippi

    Dearest David,
    The flea-ridden flying-monkeys and the crystal ball was enough for me. I also felt much fear and sympathy for the Scarecrow when the green-faced wicked witch asked him if he wanted a little fire! Yikes!
    Thanks for the memories David??

    [Oh, yeah, when the Witch set him on fire. You're right, that was scary! -- DA]

  • http://www.hughcmcbride.com hugh.c.mcbride

    In my younger years, the Wicked Witch of the West scared the livin’ daylights outta me — though in retrospect I can’t help but wonder if she also somehow sowed the seeds of my lifelong love of alliteration.

    And now I’m feeling much more conflicted than is probably wise to be sharing online … Thanks, David!

    [I do what I can. -- DA]

  • Bob House

    I recently read that Victor Fleming, who directed both Gone with the Wind and the Wizard of Oz in 1939 (not a bad parlay!), was raised on a ranch in San Dimas.

    In my ’50s childhood, the similar movie event was the 1933 version of Alice in Wonderland shown once a year (as I recall) on Christmas Day by one of the LA TV stations. It has its scary moments as well. Any others who remember this movie might be interested to know that it finally became available to the public for the first time just this month (DVD). Prior to this release, the only way you could get a copy was to record it if you found it on late-night TV (rarely).

    [I haven't seen it but it's been mentioned favorably as the best "Alice" movie in reviews of the new one! -- DA]

  • shirley wofford

    I have seen the movie on TV several times, but don’t think I ever saw it in a theater. I don’t remember ever being introduced to the movie when I was a child. My grandchildren have, and nothing is cuter than the little ones marching around the house singing, “We’re off to See the Wizard.”

    I did not realize that there had been a movie before the Judy Garland rendition. I think the Judy Garland “Oz” should remain as the gold standard forever. It they remake it with new stars, it will be a travesty.

    [As you may have heard, several "Oz" movies are in development. -- DA]

  • Don J

    In the Joseph Henabery book, Victor Fleming broke into movies because he was the mechanic who fixed Alan Dwan’s car when he broke down while location scouting in Santa Barbara — the movie people figured he could fix a tempermental camera just as easily.

    [Hollywood logic. But I guess it worked out. -- DA]

  • Karen Politovich Brown

    I saw the movie every Thanksgiving Day during the ’60s at our family friend’s house in Fontana (I grew up on E Street in Ontario). I had nightmares of the flying monkeys coming to my school, San Antonio School on San Antonio and Flora to D Street. That movie both terrified and obsessed me!

    My family did not have a color TV at that time and we had to go to our friend’s house to see the difference between the first black and white part and the later color part.

    I still love the movie.

    [It was all B&W to me too for years. Not sure I even knew about the shift to color. -- DA]

  • Karen Politovich Brown

    Dave, thanks for the blog. I don’t live in the area any more, and I enjoy the opportunity to read about the history and culture of my hometown.

    [Happy to help keep you in the loop, Karen. -- DA]

  • Dee

    Here’s a bit of trivia I read in the paper when “Oz” went to video.

    It seems the costumer was looking for a special coat to be worn by Professor Marvel.
    They wanted something that looked elegant but shabby, so they searched the second hand stores before finding just the right one. They swore they later found, inside the coat, the name “L F Baum.”

    [That can't be true. Can it? -- DA]

  • Doug Evans

    I think I shared before in an earlier blog comment that my grandfather, who worked for MGM, worked on this film. He was a cinematographer for the studio and worked on the special effects, such as projecting the tornado behind the house and putting the images inside the crystal balls.

    Dave, if we want to make the 2 pm showing, how early do you think should we get there? I’d love to see the tour, but I don’t know if my seven-year-old is up for that. But I would like to take her to see this film on the big screen, and to check out the new theater. Do you think this will sell out? $2 is a pretty incredible price.

    [There's seating for 900, with the most comfortable seating in the balcony due to its actual theater seats; the floor will have conference-style padded chairs. Hard to predict the demand. Skip the tour and just get a good seat. You can see enough of the theater by walking into the lobby, going up the staircase to the mezzanine and ogling the murals, etc. from your balcony seat. -- DA]

  • Dee

    [That can't be true. Can it? -- DA]

    I’ve always wondered, but they swore it was true. They said they didn’t say anything at the time because no one would have believed it. I wouldn’t know how to even go about trying to find out.

    Curious, though.

  • Bob House

    Snopes.com says the Baum coat story is true.

    http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/ozcoat.asp

    [Oh, OK. -- DA]

  • Dee

    According to IMBD :)

    When the wardrobe department was looking for a coat for Frank Morgan (Professor Marvel / The Wizard), they decided they wanted one that looked like it had once been elegant but had since “gone to seed”. They visited a second-hand store and purchased an entire rack of coats, from which Morgan, the head of the wardrobe department, and director Victor Fleming chose one they felt gave off the perfect appearance of “shabby gentility”. One day, while he was on set in the coat, Morgan idly turned out one of the pockets and discovered a label indicating that the coat had been made for L. Frank Baum. Mary Mayer, a unit publicist for the film, contacted the tailor and Baum’s widow, who both verified that the coat had at one time been owned by the author of the original “Wizard of Oz” books. After the filming was completed, the coat was presented to Mrs. Baum.

    [Strange but true, it seems. -- DA]