Wamego#66 Trivia Feb 26, 2016
“DON’T LIKE GOOD-BYES….” (Or: DOROTHY & THE COLLEGE MAN!)
[Above: Hand-in-hand with the first friend she met on her trek down the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) beams at the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger).]
We have another fine trivia query this month from William Dogan, who asks:
In that touching farewell scene in the [Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer] 1939 film [of THE WIZARD OF OZ], why does Dorothy say to the Scarecrow in her goodbyes, "I think I'll miss you most of all"? The Tin Man's comment about a breaking heart is obvious, but why does she single out the Scarecrow?
Over the last twenty-seven years, I’ve written at length about the fourteen scenarists and advisors; the early, discarded scripts; and the extraneous -- and eventually deleted -- additional characters of Metro’s OZ. Dorothy’s farewell line to The Scarecrow, as referenced above by William, is a surviving vestige from all of the preproduction confusion that beset the movie at every turn. [As a side note: There are sections, paragraphs, and/or photographs that cover these topics (in random Fricke journalese!) in both the 50th and 70th anniversary WIZARD OF OZ pictorial history coffee-table books, in the 1993 published version of the rough cut/“cutting continuity” script, in diverse magazine articles, and on laser disc and DVD commentary tracks.]
There’s no room to go into all of it again here (you lucky people!), but I’ll try to summarize as best I can. The initial conception of MGM’s OZ included Judy Garland’s character as “Dorothy, an orphan in Kansas who sings jazz.” Her Emerald City counterpart, Princess Betty -- to be played by a Metro newcomer, teen classical vocalist Betty Jaynes -- was to sing “opera.” Princess Betty also was to have a boyfriend, the Grand Duke Alan; that role would be filled by tenor Kenny Baker. As the script evolved, the character names of the two lovebirds changed, and they also were given Kansas counterparts of their Ozian personas, as the niece of Mrs. Gulch and the niece’s boyfriend. Mrs. Gulch, as one might imagine, detested their relationship and, instead, wanted the girl to marry her dimwitted son, Walter. Correspondingly, the Wicked Witch of the West also would have a dumdum son, named Bulbo, whom she hoped to place on the throne of the Emerald City. (This would cue in a proposed song from the Witch’s Winkie Guards, “Death to The Wizard of Oz!”)
Are you confused? (Don’t be surprised; I think it’s unavoidable.)
Anyway, please take my word for the fact that everything I’ve thus far shared here is the absolute truth.
And just the beginning.
[Above left: Kenny Baker, one of the radio regulars of “The Jack Benny Show” from 1935-1939, made THE MIKADO for Universal (1939) after his role as the Grand Duke Alan was dropped from MGM’s OZ. Right: Six years later, he finally appeared with Judy Garland – as well as Cyd Charisse and Angela Lansbury – in Metro’s THE HARVEY GIRLS (1945).]
Along the preliminary script-writing route, it was Noel Langley who decided that most of Dorothy’s Oz friends should have Kansas equivalents. He created farmhands Hickory and Hunk for actors Buddy Ebsen and Ray Bolger, who later would turn up “over the rainbow” as The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman. (When Ebsen and Bolger switched Oz roles, they nevertheless maintained their Kansas designations.) And in those early scripts, Dorothy’s age was configured as closer to that of Judy herself, rather than the twelve-year-old specifically described in the ultimate shooting script and played by sixteen-year-old Garland.
Finally, the young teen Dorothy in Langley’s initial drafts was further characterized by a romantic crush on Hickory.
In the opening Kansas sequence, it’s the Kansas girl who defends him from Hunk’s dismissive jokes about Hickory’s desire to return to school to better himself. A few scenes later, it’s Hickory who discovers the girl unconscious on her bedroom floor -- after the cyclone blows in the window that hits her in the head; the farmhand gently lifts her, puts her on her bed, and she drifts along into her Oz dream. The final sequence of a primitive Langley script saw Dorothy back home in Kansas, bidding an emotional but encouraging farewell to Hickory as he ambitiously boards a train to take him to agricultural college. They’re joined on the train by Mrs. Gulch’s niece and her paramour, who are eloping; Mrs. Gulch and Walter – on the former’s bicycle-built-for-two -- are in furious, mad pursuit of the romantic duo, but in their rush up the street to the depot, the bicycle careens into the departing carnival wagon of Dr. Pink (a precursor of Professor Marvel), and mother and son topple into a water trough. This, once again, effectively -- if only figuratively – liquidates the film’s villainess.
[Above left: Judy earlier teamed with Buddy Ebsen in BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938 (1937), although there was no scripted romance between the two of them in that MGM coupling. Right: Betty Jaynes and real-life husband Douglas McPhail were the operatic teens in Metro’s BABES IN ARMS (1939), but it was hot swing team Judy and Mickey Rooney who walked away with the picture. Still, Garland and Jaynes did an “Opera Vs. Jazz” challenge duet in the film that indicated the type of musical material initially intended for Dorothy and Princess Betty in OZ.}
Amidst all of this, and just prior to the departure of the train, Dorothy and Hickory awkwardly exchange comments about how much they’ll miss each other. His final line to her is a solemn, “I guess I’ll miss you most.”
SOMEHOW, that line got bumped from script to script and scene to scene until it wound up as Dorothy’s parting comment to The Scarecrow in Oz. It must have been the director and/or producer and/or final writer’s conceit that it still, somehow made sense…because Dot met the straw man first of all? Or because she’d known him “longest”?
Yet…. Such rationalization doesn’t mean it holds up to careful scrutiny, does it?!
Oh, well. At least I can vouch for origin, subtext, and original meaning.
Final personal confession: At different times, at different ages, and during different viewings, my own “take” – pending, I guess, my own emotions and reactions of-the-moment -- is that Dorothy could have missed any one of her friends “most of all.”
And I admit to a general and very genuine fondness for (and bond with) all three of ’em!
Anyway, once again, my thanks to William for “taking us here”!
Article by John Fricke