This month, our resident Wizard of Oz experts, Jay Scarfone and William Stillman, authors of the book The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion (available here: http://amzn.to/1MmrJoi#sthash.46Jzs4JM.dpuf), dispel a few of the most common Wizard of Oz “myth” understandings.
Myth: The Wizard of Oz was filmed in black and white but colorized for TV.
From its inception, The Wizard of Oz was planned as a Technicolor production. In fact, a previously announced 1933 version of The Wizard of Oz (which was never made) by producer Samuel Goldwyn was also to be done in Technicolor. For the 1939 version, the Kansas sequences would be black and white film, processed with a special sepia tinting, to create a greater contrast between Dorothy’s farm and the lavish fantasy world that is the Land of Oz. The confusion about The Wizard of Oz being “colorized” may come from the fact that the movie first began airing on television in 1956. The movie was broadcast in color but at the time, the vast majority of households with television had a black-and-white set, even though color sets were newly available. Because of this, The Wizard of Oz wasn’t telecast in color in 1962 but was shown only in black and white. As more families eventually acquired color TVs, it became readily apparent that The Wizard of Oz was a color film if anyone had doubts. Indeed, making the movie mostly in Technicolor was a major marketing point – and contributed greatly to its inordinate expense – in 1938-39.