Sunday, April 23, 2006

My latest Oz readings

I checked Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer out of the library. Okay, strictly speaking, it's not an Oz book, but he was the head of MGM when The Wizard of Oz was made, he first brought Judy Garland to national fame, so it is somewhat Oz related. What I didn't realize when I reserved it was that it was six hundred pages! However, it's a fascinating read, and I'm getting through it pretty quickly. I haven't gotten to the Oz stuff yet, but it does have a few citations in the index, so I'm sure something will be mentioned. It's also been an extremely interesting look at the golden age of Hollywood. Did you know, for instance, that AMPAS (the folks who gave out the Oscars) was formed by the studio heads, including LBM, to forestall unions from forming in the movie business? It worked for quite a while, too. And the account of the making of the original, silent version of Ben Hur, it's a wonder that film was ever finished and released in the first place. It was the Waterworld of its time, except that it did fine at the box office — which may make it more like the Titanic of its time, then, I guess...

I also took a little breather from Lion of Hollywood by reading Toto of Oz and the Surprise Party by Roger S. Baum. It's a picture book, so I got through it in about ten minutes, and relates a tale of Toto trying to get to Glinda's palace in time for the Wizard's surprise birthday party. Victoria Seitzinger's pictures are terrific, and she's obviously done her research, as some characters from Oz books other than The Wizard of Oz appear. Then again, this is the first time I can recall any characters from later Oz books showing up in the text of a Roger Baum book, as the Sawhorse is used to get Dorothy to Glinda's in a hurry.

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