No ruby slippers? No Miss Gulch? How ‘Wizard of Oz’ movie differs from book

A replica of the original “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
A replica of the original “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” HACKER

If “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” were a category on “Jeopardy,” it might contain more than a few trick questions.

“The color of Dorothy’s magical shoes.”

“What is ruby red, Alex?”


“I’m sorry. We’re talking about the book, L. Frank Baum’s ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,’ not the movie, MGM’s ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ The color we were looking for was silver.”

There are plenty more differences.

“In the book, Oz is a real place,” said Hollyn Smith, gift shop coordinator at the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kan., one of the largest collections of privately owned Oz memorabilia in the world. “L. Frank Baum created this place of escape to be different and strong and find who you are. In the movie, Oz only exists in Dorothy’s dream. And in the book, the Wicked Witch, her Winkie guards and her flying monkeys aren’t as scary as they are in the movie.”

And have you heard of Kalidahs, beasts with the body of a bear and the head of a tiger? You won’t find them in the movie. Same for the Queen of the Field Mice, who — in the book — helps rescue the Cowardly Lion from a deadly poppy field.

Likewise, there are things you’ll find only in the movie, such as Dorothy’s classic line: “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

And speaking of Dorothy, in the book she’s a short, young girl who is valiant, calm and cheerful. In the movie she’s taller and older, more of a damsel in distress who cries and needs to be saved.

In the book, the Wicked Witch of the West is a minor character who only appears in three chapters. In the movie she is the focus of all of Dorothy’s difficulties in Oz.

And that’s just the beginning. Here are a dozen more differences:

1. Dorothy’s Kansas home: In the book, she’s perfectly content on the gray Kansas prairie. In the movie, she dreams of a better place “Somewhere over the rainbow.”

2. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em: In the book, they are dirt poor and none too happy. In the movie, they seem happy enough and have a relatively nice farmhouse and enough money to pay three farmhands.

3. Other Kansas characters: Miss Gulch, Professor Marvel and the farmhands (Hunk, Zeke and Hickory) appear only in the movie.

4. The good women of Oz: In addition to Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, the book also provides Dorothy help from the unnamed Good Witch of the North and the Queen of the Field Mice.

5. Good kisser: In only the book, the Witch of the North gives Dorothy a kiss on her forehead to protect her from evil on her journey to the Emerald City.

6. A braver Lion: The book’s Cowardly Lion displays much courage, including a time when he leaps back and forth over a wide ditch several times with Dorothy (and the others) on his back.

7. A free ride: When she tires in the book, Dorothy rides on the Lion’s back. No such luck in the movie.

8. Making a spectacle: In only the book, Dorothy and friends must don protective green glasses to enter the bright Emerald City.

9. Semantics: In the book, Oz asks Dorothy to kill the Wicked Witch of the West. In the movie, he asks only for the Witch’s broomstick — merely implying a necessary death.

10. Poppies will make you sleep: The book’s poppy field naturally puts Dorothy and the Lion to sleep; in the movie, the Witch enchants the flowers.

11. Flying monkeys: In the book, they’re controlled by whoever owns the Golden Cap. In the movie, they serve only the Witch.

12. No place like the Wizard’s home: In the book, he’s from Omaha, but in the movie, he tells Dorothy, “I’m an old Kansas man myself, born and bred in the heart of the western wilderness.”

Now, see how many more you can find.

To reach James A. Fussell, call 816-234-4460 or email jfussell@kcstar.com.


We’re celebrating this month’s 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz” movie with a story a day.