A Kiss is Still a Kiss!


Wamego # 64 Trivia

 A Kiss is Still a Kiss!

 [Above at left: Moments after her arrival in Oz, Dorothy meets Munchkin representatives and the Good Witch of the North. This is one of W. W. Denslow’s color plates from the first edition of THE WONDERFUL WlZARD OF OZ (1900). At right: For Reilly & Lee’s edition of the book, fifty-six years later, Dale Ulrey drew the Good Witch’s farewell to the girl from Kansas, which took place just before Dorothy went off to seek the Great and Powerful Oz.]

This month, William Dogan submitted a statement that draws a fine parallel between L. Frank Baum’s original text in THE WONDERFUL WlZARD OF OZ book (1900) and the script and staging of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer THE WlZARD OF OZ film (1939):

What did the Good Witch in both the novel and the 1939 movie give Dorothy before she started her Yellow Brick Road journey? It is explained in the book, but it is not in the film.

Now, l’m not sure if this falls into the category of a posed-trivia question, or if it’s more about making a worthy attempt to tease and challenge ol’ Fricke! Regardless, it’s a good topic -- and here’s the prompted discussion!

 On page 25 of the first edition of that very first Oz book, Dorothy pleads with the Good Witch of the North to “go with” her on the journey to The Emerald City. The little girl had, according to author Baum, “begun to look upon the little old woman as her only friend.”

The Witch replies, “No, l cannot do that…but l will give you my kiss, and no one will dare injure a person who has been kissed by the Witch of the North.” Then, “she came close to Dorothy and kissed her gently on the forehead. Where her lips touched the girl, they left a round, shining mark, as Dorothy found out soon after.”

lndeed, that kiss becomes an important reference point later in Baum’s story. During Chapter Twelve, the Wicked Witch of the West sends her Winged Monkeys to “destroy” Dorothy. ln due course, we are told “the leader of the Winged Monkeys flew up to her, his long hairy arms stretched out, and his ugly face grinning terribly; but he saw the mark of the Good Witch’s kiss upon her forehead and stopped short, motioning to the others not to touch her.

“We dare not harm this little girl,” he said to them, “for she is protected by the Power of Good, and that is greater than the Power of Evil. All we can do is to carry her to the castle of the Wicked Witch and leave her there.”

This they do, and it’s next disclosed that “The Wicked Witch was both surprised and worried when she saw the mark on Dorothy’s forehead, for she knew well that neither the Winged Monkeys nor she, herself, dare hurt the little girl in any way.”



[Above: Denslow shows the Wicked Witch of the West in conference with the leader of the Winged Monkeys.]


Dorothy thus is saved from death by the Good Witch’s kiss. Beyond that, it’s also interesting to note that the Wicked Witch isn’t aware that the girl possesses the “silver shoes” of the Witch of the East until Dorothy actually stands before her. ln Baum’s story, the two evil crones are not sisters (as they would be described in the movie), and the Witch of the West doesn’t even appear at all until Dorothy and her friends are sent by the Wizard of Oz to dispatch her.

Thirty-eight years later, a miscellaneous pool of screenwriters at MGM worked to conflate characters and plot points as they prepared Baum’s prose for film production. The major change that ties in with today’s blog is that they elected to give all power to the “ruby slippers”; the motion picture Good Witch of the North warns Dorothy to “never let those ruby slippers off your feet for a moment, or you will be at the mercy of the Wicked Witch of the West.” (The same process of revisions led Metro scribes to provide that Good Witch with the proper name, “Glinda.” ln Baum’s book, Glinda is actually the Good Witch of the South and doesn’t enter into the OZ adventures until Chapter Twenty-Three.)


[Above left: A John R. Neill illustration from THE WlSHlNG HORSE OF OZ (1935) clearly shows the mark of the Good Witch’s kiss on Dorothy’s forehead, even many years later. Right: At MGM in 1938, Billie Burke – photographed here with the quintessential Dorothy Gale -- assayed the conflated characters of the Good Witch of the North and Glinda, the Good Witch of the South.]


So, William Dogan…! l assume you’re referencing the fact that both on the printed page and on the movie screen, Dorothy gets a farewell kiss from the Good Witch of the North. But its merit goes unexplained in the film, because it’s only in Baum’s book that the buss proves to be a definite talisman: a literal and figurative “saving grace” for the child. At MGM, and as noted, pretty much all of the glory is ascribed to the shoes. And even they can’t save her from the death threats of -- and planned execution by -- Margaret Hamilton.

Somewhere in here, there could be a very obscure joke about head-to-toe magical protection …but l’ll forego the search it would require – AND any further imposition on your time! lnstead, we’ll just be glad that Billie Burke provided both kiss and footwear benediction for Judy Garland, who since has taken countless billions “off to see the Wizard,” across more than seven decades past and (hopefully!) for countless decades to come.


Article by John Fricke


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