The Wizard of Oz: Movie Storybook
The legacy of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 scantly-read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is surrounded by myth. The book was alleged to be an elaborate allegory to Gilded Age politics treating such topics as the relationship between the financial East and the Populist Old Northwest, the Silver Standard, and the dehumanizing (read: munchkinizing) effects of steam age industry such as the railroad. The 1939 film by Victor Fleming took many liberties with the premise, completely eliminated the political content, and changed Dorothy’s figurative Silver Standard Slippers into Ruby in order to show off the vivifying effects of atomic age industry such as technicolor.
Although stripping Baum’s work of its motivating principle, the motion picture nonetheless elevated The Wizard of Oz to the status of American classic. Children and adults alike know the lyrics to the many songs and witty lines from throughout the screenplay. I personally have an alter ego who speaks like a witch and frequently refers to people and things as “my pretties.” The motion picture, too, has myths of its own: it is rumored that a munchkin-actor killed himself during production and his body can be seen swinging from a tree in the background of a scene in the Enchanted Forest. And, of course, we have all tried synchorinzing Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, starting the album just as the MGM lion roars his third roar, and found that it works. Sorta.
The Wizard of Oz: Movie Storybook (1998) written collectively by “Scholastic, INC” benefits wildly from the film’s fifty-nine years as an established piece of American culture. It was obvious in 1998 which screen shots from the film are representative of memorable parts of the movie, and which lines had worked their way into public consciousness. This book has them all: ”I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” “Are you a good witch or a bad witch,” “Be gone, before somebody drops a house on you too,” “I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog too,” “How would you like it if somebody picked a fruit off of you,” “Now that’s a horse of a different color,” “Oh what a world what a world,” and “There’s no place like home,” are all there, along with the title lines of every song worked delightfully into the narrative.
I can confidently state that this storybook is a direct facsimile of the movie into a different medium, and that this is an example of book -> movie/book. And although Baum’s message may have been muddled with time, Dorothy and her fascinating friends remind us that we cannot press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns; we cannot crucify mankind upon the yellow brick road.
— William Jennings Bryan