The Movie Internet was still in its infancy, but fans, critics, and confused novices began using boards and chat rooms to try puzzling out the picture’s many twists, symbols, and dead-ends, resulting in a surplus of Mulholland fan theories, both credible and insane. We’ve compiled our favorites—from both categories. …Read More
The Wizard of Oz
Next week marks the 158th birthday of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum, whose 14-books series set in a faraway fantasy realm has captured the imaginations of generations of readers. The surreal landscape, which is downright psychedelic as the movie version demonstrates in bold Technicolor, is home to colorful creatures who are wonderfully odd-looking and truly weird. Many of Baum’s characters were written as icons of the cultural and political allegories woven throughout his tales, but that doesn’t make them any less strange. We’re celebrating ten of the most bizarre characters in Baum’s Oz canon that often get overlooked when discussing the author’s legacy.
It was a modest box officer winner when it was released on this day back in 1939, but MGM’s grand Technicolor fantasy film, The Wizard of Oz, won the hearts of millions more when it debuted on TV for the first time in 1956. It became an annual tradition for many families to huddle around the telly and watch the tale of a girl and her dog traveling the Yellow Brick Road. We’re honoring the film’s theatrical release with an epic list of facts, many strange but true, that shed light on one of cinema’s most beloved movies.
This Friday, Paramount unleashes World War Z, the Brad Pitt-fronted zombie apocalypse tale that has been on the receiving end of an inordinate amount of pre-release bad buzz. Stories of third-act rewrites, tension between star and director, shifting release dates, and massive budget and schedule overruns have dominated WWZ’s advance publicity, far more than anything of note about the film itself (which is unfortunate, as it’s a frequently gripping and reasonably intelligent disaster flick). But that’s nothing new in Hollywood; for decades we’ve been fascinated by stories of high-profile productions run amok, and by guessing whether those on-set woes would actually impact the final product.
Welcome to “This is a Thing,” a monthly feature where your humble film editor will examine a piece of popular culture — a film, an album, a television special, whatever — that I wouldn’t believe existed, had I not laid my own eyes upon it. This month: the stunningly ill-conceived 1938 Western, announced in its opening titles as “The Terror of Tiny Town, with an all-midget cast.”
The story goes that low-budget producer Jedd Buell was inspired to make his magnum opus by an offhand comment from a subordinate: “If this economy drive keeps on, we’ll be using midgets for actors.” And like that, The Terror of Tiny Town was born. Buell took out ads in newspapers around the nation, offering “Big Salaries for Little People.” He hired 60 actors (averaging 3’8”) to fill the roles of his $100,000 production.