No Place Like Home

The Wizard of Oz - Haley, Bolger, Garland, Lahr - 1939By Judy Berman

Sometimes, you don’t know what you got until it’s gone.

That thought comes to mind when I consider a little girl who’s swept away with her best friend to a very strange land. She spends the bulk of her time trying to return to a place of comfort and love.

I’m talking about the ultimate road trip movie, “The Wizard of Oz” (1939).

This movie might seem an odd choice for a Thanksgiving offering. But it has it all: a buddy movie/road trip made up of an odd cast of lovable characters.

Just like many of us gathered around the table this holiday, each has a different personality and a personal quest. For some, it’s the drumstick. For others, it’s something much deeper.

For Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland), an orphaned teen, she’s trying to avoid a nasty neighbor, Miss Gulch (Margaret Hamilton). The cranky woman, upset that Toto bit her, threatens to have Toto put to sleep. Dorothy runs away with Toto to protect him.

She didn’t get far when she ran into a phony fortune-teller, Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan). The Professor tells Dorothy that her Auntie Em (Clara Blandick) has fallen ill worrying about Dorothy.

Dorothy returns home, but the family is hunkered down in the storm cellar trying to avoid a tornado. Dorothy darts into the house with Toto and is knocked unconscious. When she awakes, her home drops right in the middle of the Land of the Munchkins.

“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” Dorothy says as she surveys the neighborhood.

Good news. They’re OK and the little people – the Munchkins – are welcoming. Bad news. Her house fell right on top of the Wicked Witch of the East and she’s deader than a doornail.

The Wizard  of Oz - Margaret Hamilton and Judy Garland - 1939

Her mean sister, the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton), is not too happy about this. She warns Dorothy: “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!”

Before she can carry out her threat, Glinda (Billie Burke), the Good Witch of the North, comes to Dorothy’s rescue. Glinda quickly transfers the dead witch’s ruby slippers onto Dorothy, telling Dorothy that they have powerful magic and will protect her. Dorothy and Toto go skipping off down the Yellow Brick Road in search of the Wizard of Oz who will surely help her get back to Kansas.

On the road, Dorothy runs into a talking Scarecrow (Ray Bolger). When he finds out where Dorothy is going, he asks if he can go along. He hopes the Wizard will give him a brain. Soon, they spot a rusted out Tin Woodman (Jack Haley) and oil him up. He’s in search of a heart. The last one to join this little group is the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) who confides that he’d like the Wizard to give him courage.

Wizard of Oz - 1900

In their travels, they encounter the nightmare that most of us do. Flying monkeys. (Hey! We’ve all been there. Right?) Fatigue. For us, it’s the long road trip and the big meal. For them, the witch casts a spell as they’re running thru a field of flowers.

“Poppies … poppies will put them to sleep,” she cackles.

Eventually, Dorothy turns the tables on the old bat. When the witch tries to set the Scarecrow on fire, Dorothy throws a bucket of water to douse the fire … and drenches the witch … which proves her undoing.

“I’m melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! What a world!” the witch screams … and, then, she is no more.

In a road movie, the main character grows as the story progresses. Such is the case with Dorothy and her friends. They find that they had it within them all along to achieve the things they went in search of.

Glinda tells Dorothy that she’s always had the power to return to her family.

Dorothy clicks her heels together three times, repeating the magic phrase that will take her home, “There’s no place like home … There’s no place like home.”

Soon, Dorothy and Toto are back with her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry. And that curmudgeon, Miss Gulch, is no where to be found.

Now, if only a turkey wishbone had that kind of magic.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Movie trailer – The Wizard of Oz – 

Main Photo: Jack Haley, Ray Bolger, Judy Garland, Bert Lahr – The Wizard of Oz (1939) – MGM film

Photo: Margaret Hamilton and Judy Garland – The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Photo: Wizard of Oz – Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz first edition. Illustration by W.W. Denslow (d. 1915)

  1. That’s a real gift you have, Judy. Nothing drives me crazier than someone who takes two hours to tell me about a ninety-minute movie.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. This movie brings back many happy memories for me as well, Madhu. I recall my youngest being so afraid of the witch that she ran upstairs to her bedroom and wouldn’t watch the rest of the film. Ironically, it became one of her favorites, and she played Dorothy in one of her school plays..

  2. Whadya mean the turkey wishbone doesn’t have that kind of magic? You mean I spent all those years scrapping with my brothers so I’d get my turn to pull the wishbone, all for nothing?

  3. Being from Kansas–and having a daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren who lived through a tornado that destroyed more than half of their town–THE WIZARD OF OZ’s songs and lessons still make me get weepy, Judy. Great post!

    1. Glad you liked the post, Marilyn. I loved the movie because of the story and the lessons it contained.

      Hope your family and friends have recovered from that tornado. Our youngest was in Oklahoma in 1999 when an EF5 tornado blew thru, just a few miles from her home. It was close enough to really rattle her. I saw the devastation in Moore when we visited her.

    1. Thank you, Mark. I feel doubly blessed: by your compliment and by the Versatile Blogger award. It’s the 2nd time I’ve received it. I will add your name to my Wall of Fame (the bloggers who are thoughtful enough to nominate me for an award, that is). 🙂

  4. I loved your comparison between the movie and Thanksgiving. I’ve never thought of it from that perspective before.

    On a completely different note, Oregano and I watched this movie together a long time ago when we were dating. Both of us had seen the movie many times before. When the movie was near the end and Dorothy woke up back in her bed in Kansas surrounded by loved ones, Oregano turned to me and said, “Did you ever notice that those people look like the tin man, the scarecrow and the lion?” I burst out laughing then explained the “coincidence” to him. It’s almost 20 years later and we’re still laughing about it.

    1. Paprika, I’m glad you liked the comparison. I started thinking “road trip.” Then, “buddy movie.” Finally, Thanksgiving.

      Oregano’s observation cracks me up. I won’t admit to when I caught on to the reason everyone looked so familiar. 🙂 This movie touches me on so many levels. It really is one of my favorites.

      1. I was afraid to leave a link in case it came across as spam but if you google chocolate wishbones you’ll see various sites that sell plastic molds. Makes for a cute party favor.

        note from earthrider to Main Street Musings:
        Very tempting, Lisa. A novel idea. 🙂

  5. I remember being blown away (not by a hurricane!) when I first saw this, and it’s still a real favourite of mine today, and probably always will be! 🙂 There is so much in that story (in a spiritual way) and so beautifully colourful even after all these years. I remember my Dad telling me he was 13 when this came out, he lived near Dublin city in Ireland, and the wild excitement that went round his village about this vibrant colour film coming from America had the children almost unable to sleep at night looking forward to the day when they would see it! 😀 I noticed the video you shared here is advertising the new 3D version – wow that must interesting, and I’m sure my Dad if he was alive today would have given that a look – he was never tired of that film!

    I thought you might like to see this I found on Pinterest – Wizard Of Oz related!! 🙂

    Well, I hope your Thanksgiving holiday is a good one Judy, and you won’t have need to unleash any flying monkey’s!!! 😆

    1. Somehow, that movie never gets old. I can just imagine the excitement they must have felt. Taking a detour here, another movie that I recall that was in black & white, and in color, was “A Man and a Woman.” Loved that film. The film’s choice was the result of budgetary constraints. Still, I love it.

      Thanks, Suzy. That Pinterest pin is adorable. (Just the thought of “flying monkeys” makes me laugh.) 😆

  6. So true,” No place like home.” Wizard of Oz captures our hearts because we see a piece of ourselves in it. Our dreams , adventures, journey and wishes and many more. And yes, the lyrics and tune of “somewhere over the rainbow,” just takes me back to the home that I miss so much. Thanks. Best wishes to you and family.

    1. When I worked in radio, my boss parodied the movie’s characters in his Year in Review. It was hysterical – to me- because he captured their personalities to a “T.” Yes, I can relate to several of the characters, love “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and the thought of returning home – returning to a time of innocence. Blessings to you and your family, IT.

  7. She went home to Kansas?? Huh. I just assumed she was from Upstate New York… : )

    You forgot my favorite part: when the Wizard scares the Lion and he runs down the long corridor and jumps thru the window. Well, it was always the high point for me… : )

    I’m clicking my rudy moccasins and wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving, Judy!!

    1. That was a funny part, Mark. I also loved the part where the lion (Bert Lahr) says, as he struggles to climb the hill to the Witch’s castle, “I-I-I hope my strength holds out.” To which, Jack Haley (the Tin Man), who is hanging onto the lion’s tail, says: I hope your tail holds out.” Quite a few great moments in this film. 🙂

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Mark.

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