On the Cutting Room Floor, the Wizard of Oz Left an $80,000 Scene

However, “The Wizard of Oz” appears to still have some tricks up its sleeve. To this day, audiences have been enchanted by the classic 1939 Judy Garland musical’s fascinating characters, unique black-and-white and technicolor contrast, and memorable musical passages. In the American Film Institute’s top ten all-time list, “The Wizard of Oz” is still number one, according to the Library of Congress, it is the most-watched film of all time.

However well-known the film is, it has a way of pleasantly surprising its audience. Even today, only a few people know the film’s secret. It’s a mystery that may never be solved because of the film’s age. The final version of “The Wizard of Oz” omits a costly and detailed scene, so we’re forced to piece together our own “Yellow Brick Road.”

There’s Something the Wicked Witch Is Keeping a Secret From Everyone

There was a song in “The Wizard of Oz” named “The Jitterbug,” according to the Independent. However, this wasn’t just any song. The scene was shot over five weeks for $80,000 to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Even though “The Wizard of Oz” was MGM’s most expensive production to date, trimming it must have been a difficult decision for the studio. So, why would they do this??

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Following an initial screening of the picture, producer Mervyn LeRoy requested that the film be trimmed by 20 minutes. An earlier version of the script depicts a subplot that’s been presumably cut as part of this revision. As a result, the scene known as “The Jitterbug” was no longer relevant to the main plot. It’s still mentioned, even if the song wasn’t used.

Foreshadowing the number is done by citing it while ordering flying monkeys in the preceding scene, as Playbill points out. Finally, the Wicked Witch utters these words:

“Take your army to the haunted forest and bring me that girl and her dog. Do what you want with the others but I want her alive and unharmed. They’ll give you no trouble, I promise you that. I’ve sent a little insect on ahead to take the fight out of them.”

Insects like those described by The Wicked Witch would make people perform the jitterbug dance until they collapsed from exhaustion. Margaret Hamilton’s performance as The Wicked Witch as she laments about her little archrival didn’t appear to register with most of the audience.

However, if we keep going down the Yellow Brick Road, we may uncover less obvious reasons for the removal of “The Jitterbug” from the film.

Is It a Classic Movie or Something Else?

There may be other explanations for why the sequence was omitted. It’s easy to see why MGM didn’t want to date “The Wizard of Oz” with the inclusion of popular dance. The dance form known as the jitterbug was popularised by big band music in the 1930s.

Wizard Of Oz
Wizard Of Oz

They intended to create a “timeless, wonderful environment,” and the jazz number that sets the film in a specific decade didn’t mesh with that goal, according to an interview with The Kansas City Star.

Producers may have been concerned about the phrase “jitterbug” being slang for drunken convulsions, or they may have been concerned about the dance’s association with mixed-race Harlem following its appearance in Cab Calloway’s 1935 short film “Jitterbug Party.”

When the scene was deleted from “The Wizard of Oz,” we’re left with a glimmer of what the film might have looked like had it not been. Despite the lack of studio film, the scene’s audio and on-set footage captured by “Wizard of Oz” composer Harold Arlen is still available. Replaying the scene in its entirety is possible in some ways thanks to recordings.

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