Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Over the Rainbow Again for the First Time


Unless you are over eighty, you probably have not had the opportunity to do what we did last night.  I seriously doubt that you are less than ninety if you have. Seriously.

The house was packed.  Sold out.  Smiling, excited people, everywhere.  Ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages assembled for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the beloved film,  "The Wizard of Oz".
Oh, "Big deal" you might say.  "What was up with that?" you might ask.  "Whopee!" you might sarcastically mutter.......because you, like millions of others, have spent many an evening in front of your tellie watching Judy Garland trip down that yellow brick road. Yawn.  Go ahead. I might have too.  BUT.........

On August 11th, 1939, in that very same seat I sat in, someone thought differently, viewing The Wizard of Oz, for the very, very, very first time ANYWHERE!!!  No, I am not exaggerating.  It was right here, on little ole Cape Cod, at the Dennis Cinema on Hope Lane in the town of Dennis, that the film previewed and days later, it opened at Radio City Music Hall.  It was not uncommon for a major film to have a "test run" in a smaller community in those days.  One can just imagine the anticipation and the fear pre-release.  There were so many reasons to question how well-received this film would be. Color was new (hey, if you saw it on T.V. as a child, you did not see it in color Kiddo), special effects were daring, and, there was a very scary witch with a huge supply of equally scary Winkie Guards.  It is a long-held belief that the decision to screen the film at the Dennis Cinema was influenced by the Wicked Witch herself, Margaret Hamilton.  Right next-door is the home of the oldest summer stock theater in the country, its stage having been graced on more than one occasion by Ms. Hamilton.  Perfect!

So, last night, in glorious 35 mm, the one, the only, The Wizard of Oz, screened EXactly as it was on that summer evening in 1939, charmed and thrilled a very appreciative audience and I personally can't think of anything I've seen on this, or any other screen, that made me quite as happy.  I had all that I could do to keep from saying to my husband......":Jo-Jo, I've a feeling we're not in Dennis anymore!"

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