We're off to see the Wizard again — and, this time, it's in IMAX 3-D. The remastered beloved musical fantasy starring Judy Garland as Dorothy will return to theaters for a week starting Sept. 20. A new DVD collection including a 3-D Blu-ray will be available Oct. 1.
It's all in preparation for The Wizard of Oz's 75th anniversary next year, which also may see several Oz-themed TV series, now in development, make it to air. For boomers who well remember the annual prime-time TV airings of the film, this will be a rare opportunity to view a childhood favorite on the big screen.
"You get more out of it that way," says John Fricke, an authority on all things Oz whose fourth book on the movie, The Wonderful World of Oz: An Illustrated History of the American Classic, is out this fall. "It was designed to be seen in a movie theater and enjoyed with others. The more you watch it as an adult, the more you marvel at how they did all this without computers — the monkeys with their wings, the cyclone, the melting witch."
The scene that Fricke is most excited about viewing in three dimensions? "That first image of the Emerald City across the poppy field. Just seeing Judy Garland up close is going to be a thrill."
And do take the grandkids, even if they might be as scared of those flying monkeys as you once were. "We say the age range for Oz is fetal to fatal," says Fricke. "From way young to way old." To prepare for its return, this whiz of an expert shares 10 random but fun facts you might not know about The Wizard of Oz.
1. How many of the Munchkins are still alive?
Of the 124 actors (not including child stand-ins) who portrayed the diminutive citizens two are known to be living, Fricke says. They are Jerry Maren, 93, the middle Lollipop Guild kid who hands Dorothy a sucker, and Ruth Duccini, 95. A third Munchkin, Margaret Pellegrini, one of the "sleepyheads" in the nest, recently died at age 89. Fricke says Pellegrini, who regularly attended Oz fan events, "was endlessly energetic, had extraordinary powers of recollection. And she was a classy, common-sensical, down-to-earth, funny, huge-hearted, indefatigable human being."
2. How many Munchkin actors actually use their own voices onscreen?
Only two, Joseph Koziel and Frank Cucksey. The rest of the Munchkin dialogue was dubbed.