An important aspect of mise en scene is the role of the actors. Studying The Wizard of Oz I am going to focus on a few of the main cast members Judy Garland as Dorothy, Jack Haley as the Tin Man, and Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow.
In The Wizard of Oz Judy Garland is considered to be an interpreter actress. For she has taken the material and put her own stamp on it (Jacobs & Goodykoontz, 2014). Shirley Temple, who was closer to the age of Dorothy portrayed in the book and a much bigger star than Garland was the original choice to play Dorothy. However, despite not being the first pick Garland’s innocence and youth made her the perfect fit for the role of Dorothy. She was able to take the material and give a heartfelt performance as though the story of Dorothy was her own. The prime example is the end of the opening scene when Garland sings “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. Garlands grace, simplicity and heartfelt performance in this scene won viewers over as she indeed put her own stamp on the song.
Jack Haley, or the Tin Man was cast as a character actor. An actor who is “able to fit invisibly into a wide variety of disparate characters, adapting to the needs of each script and director they work with” (Jacobs & Goodykoontz, 2014). Haley was also a second choice actor. Buddy Ebsen who began filming the movie had an allergic reaction the aluminum makeup and the part was recast to Haley, a singing and dancing comedian. Haley has a widespread work portfolio proving that he could adapt to the script and needs of the director.
For his role in The Wizard of Oz as the Scarecrow, Ray Bolger can be considered a personality actor. He was a singer and dancer as well as an actor. His very first role was in The Great Ziegfeld (1936) in which he played himself. While contracted with MGM he was cast in many song and dance films and later found himself on Broadway. In the movie he is most famous for her number “If I Only Had a Brain”.
Bolger had always been cast in roles where he could be considered a personality character. Whether on film, Broadway or television sitcoms he continued to sing, dance, and play roles as himself or portraying his own personality.
Jacobs, C. P., & Goodykoontz, B. (2014). FILM FROM WATCHING TO SEEING. Bridgepoint Education Inc, LLC.
YOUTUBE. (2011, MAY 26). If I Only Had a Brain – The Wizard of Oz (4/8) Movie CLIP (1939) HD. Retrieved from MOVIECLIPS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nauLgZISozs
YOUTUBE. (2011, May 26). Somewhere Over the Rainbow – The Wizard of Oz (1/8) Movie CLIP (1939) HD. Retrieved from MOVIECLIPS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSZxmZmBfnU