Some Surprising Facts about “The Wizard of Oz”

Posted on September 18, 2013 at 8:00 am

The 3D release of “The Wizard of Oz” inspired Susan Wloszczyna to write about some surprising facts, updates, and behind the scenes information about the film. Does that “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?” voice in “If I Only Had a Heart” sound familiar? I would never have guessed who that was. What simple trick was used to make it seem that the Wicked Witch’s head was shrinking as she melts? I would never have guessed that one, either. Take a look — and then take the family to see “The Wizard of Oz 3D” this weekend.

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Behind the Scenes Film History

For the London Olympics: A Movie Quiz

Posted on July 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm

The Olympics have inspired a lot of great (and not-so-great) movies, both fact-based and fictional. Which ones can you identify?
1. A warm-weather country competed in a cold-weather sport in which fact-based Disney film?
2. Which Oscar-winning movie was the story of two Olympic runners?
3. There are two different movies about which real-life Olympic champion runner?
4. Which Olympic decathlete played himself in a movie based on his life?
5. Athletes from rival countries fall in love in this movie that is fiction in more ways than one — it has America competing in an Olympics that in real life the US boycotted.
6. One of the wildest Olympics movies ever made has a team from an almost-bankrupt country where all the citizens have super-athletic ability. Which classic comedian starred?
7. Animals compete in the Olympics in which animated feature?
8. Who stars in a movie about a gold medalist who defects who has to fight for his life when his former coach comes after him?
9. Which real-life Olympic star appeared in one of the biggest musical movie flops of all time and now appears in reality television?
10. Which movie is the tragic story of one of America’s greatest Olympic athletes being stripped of his medals?
11. Which Olympic medalist appeared in a movie about an athlete starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy?
12. Which movie about the Olympics featured Cary Grant?
Bonus question: Which Olympic and world champion became one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood?

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Quiz Sports

Q&A With the Movie Mom

Posted on December 19, 2010 at 8:00 am

Thanks for the great questions!#1 late 80’s early 90’s. Takes place in CA during WWII. Japanese submarine sailor gets washed on shore and gets cared for by a little boy.#2 late 80’s early 90’s. Little boy has a few ghost friends. I remember something to do with a bus. Also they sing Frankie Valli’s “Walk Like a Man” with the boy.Answer: The first is I’ll Remember April and the second is Heart and Souls with Robert Downey, Jr.My son checked out a movie at a local library about 6 months ago. It was about 3 dads helping their sons build the ultimate pine car derby from a block of pine wood. It becomes an all out competition between the dads and very funny entertaining because I did the same thing with my son. Can’t recall the name of the movie. I would like to purchase it.Answer: Our son raced in the Pinewood Derby, too! The movie is Down and Derby from 2005.Hi Nell, I’m trying to find the name of an 80s or 90s film i watched it when i was like 8 in the movie I think it was set in the future and I remember there being like a game show or something like that that people could watch and they would send a person down this chute (I think the people got this as punishment for crimes) and they would get out at the end of the chute in some sort of maze with levels wear they would have to work there way through with out being killed by other people and things I always thought it was something like blade slider that they called this death game in the movie but not to sure?? thanks for any help, bradAnswer: Sounds like The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Years ago on TV I watched an old movie with the setting in the ’20s or ’30s. I don’t recall any of the actors or the title, but the opening scene was in a large city around Christmas time with an old open air limousine giving tours of the residential Christmas lights. One of these residence was owned by a wealthy man that went vacationing every December, and left his home empty. A hobo was aware of this practice, and found a way to gain entry to this house, and lived there while the family was on vacation. The hobo would wear the owners clothes and give away items from the house to the poor people of the community. A grown daughter of the owner came home early and found out what the hobo was doing, and was so moved by his kindness that she talked her father into starting that practice as a family tradition…or at least as I remember it…. Would you be able to identify that movie, or where I might find out more about it?Answer: That’s “It Happened on 5th Avenue” with Victor Moore, Don DeFore, and Gale Storm. Hello, I’ve always wanted to find the name of a movie I watched when I was a girl-late 60’s-early 70’s about a young boy who’s parents died. He goes to live with his uncle who has a shark in an indoor pool. The uncle is trying to kill the boy for his inheritance and the boy and a little girl who he befriends try to kill the uncle first with poisoned mushrooms. Any ideas on this movie’s name? Thank you!Answer: Believe it or not, it is called “Let’s Kill Uncle” (sometimes known as “Let’s Kill Uncle Before Uncle Kills Us”). Thanks for writing!I want to find the title of this one movie in which a career minded single woman finds herself married with children upon waking up after an accident. Please help, thanks.Answer: That is Me Myself I with Rachel Griffiths. Enjoy!I would like to know how to find a movie about a high school wrestling team. It is a comedy about a group of misfits who practice in the boiler room and their coach knows nothing about the sport. I would guess it was released in the early 80’s. I think the name of it is “Take Down.” Any ideas? Thanks!Answer: It is called “Take Down,” and stars Edward Hermann and Lorenzo Lamas. It’s not available on DVD but VHS copies show up on EBay. I am looking for a family Christmas movie I saw many years ago. It’s about a young boy with not long to live. His parents tell him he can have anything he wants for Christmas. He asks for a wolf so his family breaks into a zoo and takes two wolf cubs and they become very close to the dying boy. Answer: That movie is “The Christmas Tree” with William Holden. Looking for the title of this movie (saw it years ago, so will be as accurate as I can):*1920s or early 1930s*Black and White*About an elderly couple that is split up to go with their adult children because they can’t take care of each other any more – wife to son / husband to daughter (I think)…on different coasts…or at least miles apart*Adult kids end up being selfish, terrible people*Somehow the elderly couple escape their kids and meet up in New York and have one last dinner and dance at the Rainbow Room where they celebrated their wedding as well.*Last scene they are saying good bye at the train (kids have found them), never to see each other again*Total heart breaker…really good…I think it was a promoted as a “Christmas Movie”Really hoping you can help with this one.Answer: That lovely movie is Make Way for Tomorrow. Thanks for asking!Hi, I’m trying to find an old movie about a girl, maybe 10-12 yrs. old, whose parents find out she has, I believe, 7 days or 7 weeks to live. I think her dream was to become a ballet dancer so her parents take her to the NYC Ballet. If I remember correctly the girl has long red hair, or I may be making that up. There’s a scene where they take a train ride after the ballet, later the girl dies. I hope you can help. Thank you in advance.Answer: I believe you are thinking of “Six Weeks” with Mary Tyler Moore as the mother of a young girl who is dying — and who goes to the ballet and appears in the Nutcracker. I am trying to remember a name of a movie that I watched as a kid…I can remember the whole movie but not the name. It was based on a true story in the 50’s I believe. It was about a young girl that ran away from home because she was abused by her father. She saw an ad where they were looking for a girl to jump horses in a carnival. The horse would run up a ramp and she would have to jump on its back and them the horse would jump into a pool of water. The horse got spooked on one of the jumps and she hit the water with her eyes open leaving her blind.That should jog a memory if you have seen it.Answer: Yes! That’s Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken with Gabrielle Anwar. It is based on the true story of Sonora Webster Carver. Please help. I’ve been searching for this movie for 30 years. 1940ish film noir. It’s about a woman who kills her lover and his wife while they are sleeping. They have a child about 6 that witnesses the murder. The child has an Indian Chief doll that she calls “Cupid” and she tells the cops that “Cupid” killed her parents. The woman spends the remainder of the movie trying to kill the child. At the end, the woman has on a hat with a long feather that casts a shadow against the wall, the little girls screams “Cupid” as the shadow looks like her Indian doll, and the woman is caught. Excellent movie. Help me!Answer: That thriller is, appropriately enough, called “Shadow on the Wall.” It stars Ann Southern and Zachary Scott, with Gigi Perreau as the little girl. Enjoy!Looking for title of film I saw in 2000, no known actors, about a couple driving through the US desert. They get lost and end up in a town inhabited by dead wild west heroes and villains. Think they have to do a good deed to get to heaven. Good film, need to know the title. Cheers, JohnAnswer: I believe you are thinking of a 1999 made-for-television movie called “Purgatory,” with Sam Shepard, Eric Roberts, and Randy Quaid as Wild West characters who have to redeem themselves to get to heaven. Hope that’s it!I saw it when I was about 7 years old (22 now) If I recall correctly it was an 80’s British fantasy film, but it may have been late 70’s early 90’s. Live action. I believe it began in what was then, modern day England. There was a small boy who was unhappy with his home life. He lived with relatives or something. one night while walking about he stumbles upon an old corked wine bottle and opens it up. Out of the bottle comes a gigantic white head with a long beard that speaks to the boy about how his father is a king of some kind in another land. The boy grabs the floating heads beard and is whisked away to this enchanted land where he meets his father and another boy of his age. Then something bad happens… I recall the boys decked out in armor, hiding in a hole or something. That’s it. If you can help me you will have answered a question that has been beating me senseless for the last 15 years. What is the name of that film?Answer: That’s “The Land of Faraway.” It is sometimes called “Mio in the Land of Faraway.” Enjoy!I am trying to locate the name of a movie from the late 70’s or early 80’s. This movie took place (at least in part) in Venice, Italy. I remember a young couple who needed to ride the Gondolas as the bells were ringing and they needed to kiss while going under a certain bridge whilst a certain bell was ringing in order to establish true love or everlasting love or some such. No idea of actors or title or plot or anything. Only Venice, gondolas, bells and a kiss. I would be so happy if you could figure this out for me.Answer: That sweet movie is “A Little Romance” with Diane Lane. Enjoy!Hi Nell, I’m sorry to bother you but I’m trying to find the name and the movie itself if possible, it’s a Snow White and Seven Dwarf’s movie, but its not the cartoon, in this one its an older film and Snow White is taken in by the Dwarfs while young and raised by them, and the first time the Queen visits her, she sews her into a shirt so tight it smothers her until the dwarfs get home and cut her out of it, I’ve looked everywhere and all I ever get is the Disney movie, which disappoints me as I know there has to be other such movies even beside the one I’m hunting for, makes it very hard to locate. If you could help, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you, BonnieAnswer: Not a bother! I enjoy movie questions. You are thinking of a 1987 film starring Diana Rigg.Please help me with the title of this movie. The movies is about a single parent (mother) whose child (boy)is very gifted with an extremely high I.Q.. A psychiatrist (female) at a local university discovers that the child is very intelligent and she attempts to have the child taken away from the mother as she feels the child deserves a better home.Answer: That movie is “Little Man Tate,” starring and directed by Jodie Foster.I am trying to find an old American movie, probably from the 1960’s or 1950’s about a kid who lives in an isolated cabin in a forest with his parents, and his friendship with adeer’s cub. His brothers and sisters all died at childhood and his mother detached herself from her living child. In the end of the movie the father shoots the deer. Black and white movie.Answer: That lovely classic film is “The Yearling,” based on the beloved book by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It stars Jane Wyman and Gregory Peck and won an Oscar for cinematography.I hope that you can help me with this movie I am trying to find. The movie is a 1930’s 1940’s black and white film, it is about a man who is hired to impersonate a missing family member who is quite eccentric named Skylar to save the family inheritance.Answer: I love that movie! It’s “Miss Tatlock’s Millions” with John Lund. I am trying to recall a movie that came out in the late 50s or early 60s about a man who feared being buried alive. It was kind of hokey and I think it had Vincent Price in it.What can you tell me about it? Can you remind me how it ends?Answer: Vincent Price appeared in “The Oblong Box,” where characters are buried alive, but I think you are remembering “Premature Burial” with Ray Milland. Both are directed by Roger Corman. I hope that’s it!I’m trying to figure out a movie I saw a long time ago. All I can remember is it was in a different century, like the 1800s or something, and this young girl was in love withlike her music instructor or something and they passed letter to each other. Her father finds out and fires him. Then I think he goes out one night and the maids or whatevertake her to see the guy. Maybe they get caught, I don’t remember. I know this isn’t much to tell, but I hope you can help me out cause it’s driving me crazy!!Answer: That sounds like “Valmont” with Fairuza Balk and Henry Thomas. I hope that’s it! If not, try ‘”Dangerous Liaisons,” based on the same book, which has a similar scene.I am trying to find the name of a movie with a yellow lab and a little boy that get stuck in a storm and stranded with just their boat as shelter? The boy wears a red jacket I believe.Answer: I believe you are thinking of “Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog,” starring Jesse Bradford. Excellent movie.I am looking for a film that is kind of older and the man starring in it has a half scared face i believe from burns when he was younger, he lives in a big house alone and plays a piano. The towns people think he is evil or bad or something already but when a little girl continues to come to his house for piano lessons i believe, one day she injures herself and he saves her and surprisingly takes her to the town himself to save her and the towns people think and believe he is the one that hurt her on purpose and i believe the kill him but i am not for sure but i was wondering if you could help me remember the name of this movieAnswer: That sounds like Rigoletto: A Musical Fantasy Ringing of Truth and Filled With Mystery and Love, a 1993 video that was part of the excellent Feature Films for Families series.

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Q&A with the Movie Mom

Posted on September 5, 2009 at 8:00 am

Q: A reader at a Intelligence hide out is sent out for lunch. When he returns everybody has been killed. Now the killers are after him. He carjacks a lady and hides out at her place…Movie title?
Answer: That is “Three Days of the Condor” with Robert Redford.
Q: In the movie Big, with Tom Hanks, before he get’s “big,” he is playing a computer game in his room. It is interactive, and he types in things like, “brake glass with hammer.” I have heard that this game is real, so do you know what it is called?
Answer: Some people believe that it is Colossal Cave Adventure, but others think that it was just inspired by that game but made up for the movie.
Q: The plot entails a kid who is plagued by 3 bullies – 2 boys and a girl. He enlists the help of a retired magician. In one scene, it is Halloween and the bullies are dressed up as a mummy, vampire etc and are chasing the kids. The magician’s dog steps on the “mummy”s bandage and he trips down some stairs. At the end, the bullies are arrested along with an old lady who was controlling them.
Answer: I think that’s “Spooky House” with Ben Kingsley. I hope that’s it!
Q: About 6-8 months ago I rented a movie with the description of a man who goes on the rampage after his entire family is killed at a waterfront family gathering. I didn’t know the actor playing the lead role, but loved the movie….it wasn’t until I took the movie back that I realized that the movie I had seen was in the wrong “rental envelope”. Does anyone out there recognize this scenario….I also remember that his wife and son died last, being run down on a pier/deck leading out into the water. Thanks.
Answer: That’s “The Punisher” with Thomas Jane.
Q: I watched a movie about 20 years ago about a sea creature that turned out to be an old rock quarry shovel/excavator. The excavator was sitting at the bottom of a water filled quarry. It was attached to a windmill on shore by chains and when the wind would blow the sea weed covered excavator would lift out of the water. In the movie the lake was drained and the true identity of the “monster” was discovered. Any help locating this movie would be greatly appreciated!
Answer: That movie is called “The Quest” (sometimes called “Frog Dreaming”) and stars Henry Thomas of “E.T.”
Q: The movie deals with a couple whose next door neighbor (a black policeman) harasses them.
Answer: That movie is “Lakeview Terrace” with Samuel L. Jackson.
Q: There is a movie that I cannot for the life of me remember the title to. I only remember bits and pieces about it. There is a house by a lake that the former owners are able to converse with the current owners only through the mailbox. They live in different times so they are unable to meet. I believe that it is a love story. I hope you can help me!
Answer: Hi, Kimberly! That is “The Lake House” with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.
Q: Hi I’m looking for a movie based at a high school and this guy who raced for money and at the end he had to race against time in a 57 Chevy as a bet to get the money to save his school. Can you help me?
Answer: That movie is “Catch Me if You Can” with Matt Lattanzi. Thanks for writing!
Q: I’m looking for a movie that came out I think in the past 15 years or so. The scene I remember best was a group of people in a restaurant, and when the girl realized they were going to EAT the lobsters, she “liberated” them and it was hilarious. She asked someone later, “Why would you want to eat someone’s pet?” I think she was mentally challenged or had some social adjustment issue, and she had been in a school, but the school closed and she was sent to live with her (reluctant) brother. She learned to get along in society, got a crush on her brother, found out that wasn’t appropriate, and starting liking another man, if I remember rightly. I think she had an obsession with things being in a particular order.
Answer: You are thinking of “Molly” with Elisabeth Shue. Thanks for writing!
Q: I saw a movie in this time frame of a gal that was a stewardess, she was dating 3 guys and they all happened to be named Mike. That is all I remember. thanks
Answer: You remembered the important part! That movie is called “Three Guys Named Mike,” with Jane Wyman and Van Johnson.

Q: Does anyone know the name of a film (70’s-80′) Its about two super powers USA v Russia. Where they no longer fight normal battles, they fight each other in 2 giant mech type robots. With super fit guys controlling them.

Answer: That movie is “Robot Jox.”
Q: There is this children’s movie that I absolutely LOVED when I was little, but I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it. It was about this little boy who finds this big present with a red bow has floated into his living room. He opens it and it’s a car of some sort, I think? He gets in and is transported to a cartoon-like setting….There is a dog with a giant clock in his chest and two kings (one of numbers and one of letters) who can never agree with one another. Thanks a million!
Answer: A great movie based on one of my favorite books! “The Phantom Tollbooth.” Enjoy!
Q: What is the name of the movie that was produced 15 or so years ago about a woman music professor who goes to Appalachia in the early 1900’s to record the folk music of the locals before it became lost forever? Thank you.
Answer: I love that film. It is “Songcatcher” with Emmy Rossum and Janet McTeer.
Q: Looking for movie title about several French nuns visiting and raising funds in(New York State I think) for a hospital (maybe a children’s hosp.) Post WWI or WWII, nuns are hosted by a man who does a little singing, may play a singer in the movie or composes jingles but doesn’t play a big part, may be a singer in real life. I think this movie was made in the 40’s. Saw it on TCM.
Answer: That lovely movie is “Come to the Stable” with Loretta Young and Celeste Holm.


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Movie Quiz for Movie Bloggers

Posted on January 2, 2009 at 2:00 pm

I was so charmed by Steady Diet of Film’s answers to the Professor Kingsfield “Hair-Raising Bar-Raising Holiday Movie Quiz” that I decided to try answering the questions myself. Professor Kingsfield, of course, is the terrifying law professor in “The Paper Chase,” one of the scariest teachers in movies. Remember when he gave his student a dime and told him to call his mother and tell her he’d never be a lawyer? The quiz comes from Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. As is often the case with these things, it seems to invite show-offy answers, but I’m just going to say what first pops into my mind and warn you that I often have trouble keeping it to one answer. And I will try to explain any reference that seems esoteric or a little too inside. Anyone else want to try these questions?
1) What was the last movie you saw theatrically? On DVD or Blu-ray?
“Yes Man” in a theater, “Milk” on a critic’s screener DVD.
2) Holiday movies– Do you like them naughty or nice?
Nice! There’s just about always some naughty behavior along the way (think of Scrooge) but I like a happy ending.

3) Ida Lupino or Mercedes McCambridge?

Two great actresses, and one a pioneering woman director. I pick both.
4) Favorite actor/character from Twin Peaks
Special Agent Dale Cooper
5) It’s been said that, rather than remaking beloved, respected films, Hollywood should concentrate more on righting the wrongs of the past and tinker more with films that didn’t work so well the first time. Pretending for a moment that movies are made in an economic vacuum, name a good candidate for a remake based on this criterion.
I think that “Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood” and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” could both be far better movies than the versions that were released. And I was awfully disappointed by the recent “Nancy Drew” movie. Those books could make a great movie for 4-8th graders.
6) Favorite Spike Lee joint.
“School Daze” — I love Spike Lee, and this is an under-appreciated masterpiece.
7) Lawrence Tierney or Scott Brady?
Aw, I’m not going to favor one brother over another!
8) Are most movies too long?
No, time is too short.
9) Favorite performance by an actor portraying a real-life politician.
Henry Fonda in “Young Mr. Lincoln.” Everyone in “1776.” Everyone in “Dick.” Paul Scofield in “A Man for All Seasons” (well, sort of a politician)
staypuft.jpg10) Create the main event card for the ultimate giant movie monster smackdown.
Marshmallow guy from “Ghostbusters” vs. Mothra
11) Jean Peters or Sheree North?
I think Sheree North had more talent but Jean Peters appeared in better movies.
12) Why would you ever want or need to see a movie more than once?
I love to see my favorite movies over and over. Once you know the plot, you can really open yourself up to the small details of the performances, production design, screenplay, direction, cinematography, and soundtrack. And when you watch the same movie many times over many years it serves as a measure of your own changes in perception and thinking.
13) Favorite road movie.
“The Wizard of Oz,” “The African Queen,” “Midnight Run”

14) Favorite Budd Boetticher picture.

I am sorry to say I have not seen enough to make an informed decision.
15) Who is the one person, living or dead, famous or unknown, who most informed or encouraged your appreciation of movies?
Many candidates here — Truffaut and Hitchcock in the book-length interview, my film school professor Paddy Whannel, but most of all the movie-makers themselves.
16) Favorite opening credit sequence. (Please include YouTube link if possible.)
Lots of good choices, but I’ll pick this one:
17) Kenneth Tobey or John Agar?
I’ll never forgive Johan Agar for not being a good husband to Shirley Temple.
18) Jean-Luc Godard once suggested that the more popular the movie, the less likely it was that it was a good movie. Is he right or just cranky? Cite the best evidence one way or the other.
I don’t think even he thought that. Evidence to the contrary: movies like “Dark Knight,” “Lord of the Rings,” and “Gone With the Wind” are fine films. And there are many, many deservedly unpopular films.
19) Favorite Jonathan Demme movie.
“Rachel Getting Married”
20) Tatum O’Neal or Linda Blair?
Tatum O’Neal is a more talented actress.
21) Favorite use of irony in a movie. (This could be an idea, moment, scene, or an entire film.)
In most movies the irony comes from the audience knowing something that the characters do not.
22) Favorite Claude Chabrol film.
Have not seen enough to make an educated choice.
23) The best movie of the year to which very little attention seems to have been paid.
I love “Be Kind Rewind”

24) Dennis Christopher or Robby Benson?

I like Dennis Christopher. His brief appearance in “Chariots of Fire” shows how much he can do with very little screen time.
25) Favorite movie about journalism.
“All the President’s Men”
marx brothers duck soup.jpg26) What’s the DVD commentary you’d most like to hear? Who would be on the audio track?
“Duck Soup” and the Marx Brothers
27) Favorite movie directed by Clint Eastwood.
“Letters from Iwo Jima”
28) Paul Dooley or Kurtwood Smith?
Two great character actors!
29) Your clairvoyant moment: Make a prediction about the Oscar season.
The best 10 minutes of acting this year were when Viola Davis appeared in “Doubt.” If she doesn’t win Best Supporting Actress there is no justice. No ESP, just a hope.

30) Your hope for the movies in 2009.

I so want “Watchmen” to be GREAT.

31) What’s your top 10 of 2008? (If you have a blog and have your list posted, please feel free to leave a link to the post.)
BONUS QUESTION (to be answered after December 25):
32) What was your favorite movie-related Christmas gift that you received this year?
Watching “Period of Adjustment” with my husband and daughter.

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