Hollywood Has Always Been Awful: ‘Over The Rainbow’ Was Nearly Cut From ‘The Wizard Of Oz’

I haven’t seen Oz the Great and Powerful yet, but forgive me for thinking that, due to its visual similarities to Alice in Wonderland, it looks like the world’s most expensive Jackson Pollock homage, in that it looks like a bunch of rainbow-colored drool dripped onto a canvas/camera. Too harsh, perhaps, but — SPOILER ALERT — I was a kid at one point, and have fond memories of The Wizard of Oz. It’s not as great as QVC specials selling Glinda figurines would have you believe, but it was a pleasant enough distraction from being mad that Flying Monkeys aren’t real.

Anyway, essentially every scene in Wizard could be considered its “most famous,” but whether it’s because of the brown-and-white or because Toto looks like a boss chilling on that seat, the film’s most instantly recognizable moment is when Dorothy (Judy Garland) sings “Over the Rainbow” while stuck in Kansas. It’s not only the best known song from a film of all-time, it’s arguably the best known, non-“Happy Birthday” song in general. But apparently, Harold Arlen and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg’s masterpiece almost didn’t make it into the movie.

It was almost cut from the film during the process of test screenings and final editing in the summer of 1939. According to one report, studio head Louis B. Mayer thought the song was too sad. In another account, half a dozen MGM executives were in favor of cutting the song, questioning why Judy Garland was singing in a farmyard. Eddie Mannix, manager of the MGM studio, claimed that the song slowed the pace of the movie. Producer Mervyn LeRoy and assistant producer Arthur Freed argued passionately for the song’s inclusion; Mervyn reportedly threatened to quit the film if the song was cut. Their protests were effective, and Mayer decreed that the song remain in the film. (Via)

See, Hollywood was just as dumb then as they are now. Though I’d want to cut the song, too, if I knew we’d be subjected to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s cover in every romantic comedy from now until the end of time.