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  #1  
Old 08-23-2011, 09:18 AM
LaurenIpsum LaurenIpsum is offline
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New development in Wizard of Oz "hanging"?

Based on this column: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...izard-of-oz-em

I know there must have been several previous threads on this, but the only one I could find was from 1999 and it seemed a bit silly to revive it, so I just started a new one.

Based on Cecil's column, and a Snopes article at http://www.snopes.com/movies/films/ozsuicide.asp , the thing you see in the background is a bird. In fact, if you look a the clip on the Snopes page, it seems so obviously to be a bird that I wondered how anyone could possibly think it was anything else. If you look up "wizard of oz munchkin hanging" on YouTube you can find many more of the same clip, showing the same thing.

However, I came across this page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8YVeMwhDNI

The person who posted it claims that it came from a VHS tape, and the bird was added digitally to later laserdisc/DVD versions to cover up the hanging. In this one, there clearly does seem to be something hanging - no trace of a bird flapping its wings. So I'm not really sure what to think. Regardless of what you see, an actual hanging is unlikely because of the reasons Cecil/Snopes already mention - how was it kept secret for 50 years, how did the actors not notice during the scene when they are dancing/walking right by it, etc.

So, what do you think? Maybe someone in charge of a rerelease simply decided to add a digitally created bird just to cover up the "whatever-it-is" as a way of trying to put the rumors to rest?
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  #2  
Old 08-23-2011, 09:37 AM
LaurenIpsum LaurenIpsum is offline
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Missed the edit window...forgot to add...

Or there's the possibility that this latest YouTube video is the one that is actually digitally altered, just to get some attention and YouTube hits. I guess one way to check is if someone here has an actual 80s VHS tape of the movie?
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  #3  
Old 08-23-2011, 09:38 AM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
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Does anyone at home have an old VHS version they can pop in to verify what's in the Youtube video? Because that pretty obviously looks like a hanging person to me.

Edit: OP beat me to the punch. If someone (preferably multiple people) at home with the old VHS tape can verify that what the Youtube video shows is accurate I'm going to sit in the "it's a hanging person" camp. If not, the Youtube author is pulling our legs.

Edit #2: I'm finding several other videos online and there is an obvious difference between the VHS and DVD releases. So unless there's a Youtube Wizard of Oz hanging person conspiracy...

Last edited by AClockworkMelon; 08-23-2011 at 09:41 AM..
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  #4  
Old 08-23-2011, 09:47 AM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
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If you find video of the old black and white version it looks like a bird (or something - but definitely not a hanging person). See here for just one example.

So in the (original?) black and white version I'm seeing footage of a bird.
Then, for the VHS release, it's been changed and there's a hanging person.
Then, for the DVD release, it's that fucking bird again.

So... either the people putting those videos up are fucking with us (I'll wait for Doper help) or we need to check to see if the people responsible for the VHS rework ever helped with Disney's The Little Mermaid.

Last edited by AClockworkMelon; 08-23-2011 at 09:49 AM..
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  #5  
Old 08-23-2011, 09:53 AM
davidm davidm is offline
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As far as I know there was never a B&W version of the parts that take place in Oz.

I suppose someone may have filmed it off a B&W TV.
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  #6  
Old 08-23-2011, 09:58 AM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
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Originally Posted by davidm View Post
As far as I know there was never a B&W version of the parts that take place in Oz.
Yeah, I should have caught that on my own. I'm not a particularly good detective!

Still, I'd appreciate any Dopers who have the actual VHS at home verifying if what the OP's Youtube clip (and others) shows is accurate.
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  #7  
Old 08-23-2011, 10:31 AM
Mithras Mithras is offline
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My parents have a copy on VHS that they purchased around 1989 (I believe it's the 50th anniversary edition). It was that tape that I looked at after first reading this column in whichever book it was published in. What is on the tape absolutely looks like a bird and not at all like that Youtube video. The probability that the Youtube clip is edited is close to 100%.
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  #8  
Old 08-23-2011, 02:19 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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The apparent hanging object makes 5.5 oscillations in 20 seconds, for a period of 3.6 s. Using the pendulum formula T = 2pi*sqrt(L/g), we find that the length of the pendulum must be 3.3 meters. Yet the apparent attachment point of the object is only slightly above the "head". So either there's some higher attachment point we're not seeing, or that's not a real physical object.
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  #9  
Old 08-24-2011, 12:13 AM
garygnu garygnu is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
The apparent hanging object makes 5.5 oscillations in 20 seconds, for a period of 3.6 s. Using the pendulum formula T = 2pi*sqrt(L/g), we find that the length of the pendulum must be 3.3 meters. Yet the apparent attachment point of the object is only slightly above the "head". So either there's some higher attachment point we're not seeing, or that's not a real physical object.
Also, at around the 15 second mark, the whole area around the "body" shifts around noticeably. The same thing happens when zoomed and slowed, etc. To my trained eye (BA in "this exact thing") the video in question is faked.
The masking of the foreground characters is nearly perfect, but the camera motion tracking gives it away.
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  #10  
Old 08-24-2011, 10:30 AM
ShadowFacts ShadowFacts is offline
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Originally Posted by garygnu View Post
Also, at around the 15 second mark, the whole area around the "body" shifts around noticeably. The same thing happens when zoomed and slowed, etc. To my trained eye (BA in "this exact thing") the video in question is faked.
The masking of the foreground characters is nearly perfect, but the camera motion tracking gives it away.
Concur entirely.
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  #11  
Old 09-24-2011, 02:24 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
The apparent hanging object makes 5.5 oscillations in 20 seconds, for a period of 3.6 s. Using the pendulum formula T = 2pi*sqrt(L/g), we find that the length of the pendulum must be 3.3 meters. Yet the apparent attachment point of the object is only slightly above the "head". So either there's some higher attachment point we're not seeing, or that's not a real physical object.
It's threads like this and especially posts like this that keep me a Doper.
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  #12  
Old 08-23-2011, 02:22 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Oh, and there's also the matter that, if they wanted to hide something, it'd have been a heck of a lot easier to replace the "body" with just blank background, rather than putting in something as complicated as an ostrich, especially considering that they couldn't have done it via computer at that time.
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  #13  
Old 08-23-2011, 04:09 PM
TSBG TSBG is offline
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Oh, and there's also the matter that, if they wanted to hide something, it'd have been a heck of a lot easier to replace the "body" with just blank background, rather than putting in something as complicated as an ostrich, especially considering that they couldn't have done it via computer at that time.
You're right that the blank background would have been easier, but replacing a body with an ostrich or whatever could have been done...if there ever was a body. The whole story is ridiculous on its face, but it wouldn't have been beyond filmmakers of the time to change the image, for example by simply drawing something on each frame of film.

There's a funny story about the making of "The Last Waltz", in which Scorcese has to matte out a chunk of cocaine that falls out of Neil Young's nose. Wiki says it was hanging from the end his nose, but I remember reading that it was especially difficult to pull off because the coke was in motion.
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  #14  
Old 08-23-2011, 04:21 PM
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
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There's a funny story about the making of "The Last Waltz", in which Scorcese has to matte out a chunk of cocaine that falls out of Neil Young's nose. Wiki says it was hanging from the end his nose, but I remember reading that it was especially difficult to pull off because the coke was in motion.
I think it was both....hanging from the end of his nose (not falling), AND "in motion"...in motion because either Neil was moving around (or moving just his head), or the camera was moving, or both.
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  #15  
Old 08-23-2011, 04:33 PM
bucketybuck bucketybuck is offline
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This story is all new to me, I have never even watched the Wizard of Oz, but one thing immediately occurs to me. If that is a dead munchkin, then why do the three characters active in the scene happily walk right up to and past it? They could not have failed to see it, so why do they not react to it?
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  #16  
Old 08-23-2011, 02:40 PM
Mithras Mithras is offline
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I think it's also worth mentioning that the column was published in 1997. DVDs had barely been invented at that time and I doubt the Wizard of Oz had been released on the format yet. In all likelyhood, Cecil was watching the VHS for his research.

Edit: It was first released on DVD less than two months before the column. But I still imagine he was working from the VHS.

Last edited by Mithras; 08-23-2011 at 02:44 PM..
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  #17  
Old 08-23-2011, 06:30 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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The quality of the footage looks too good for VHS anyway, especially old VHS. I call foul.
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  #18  
Old 08-23-2011, 07:18 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is online now
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I call foul.
I call fowl.
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  #19  
Old 08-24-2011, 12:29 AM
EvilTOJ EvilTOJ is offline
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I have a bad recording of the Wizard of Oz on beta taped off of TV way from long ago. I'd heard of this rumor and me and my dad tried to see the hanging back in about 1990 or so. I could ever see was something that looked like it was swinging, but I could never verify what the blobby shape was.

LaurenIpsum's link is way different than I remember. What I saw was something actually swinging like on a pendulum. It wasn't nearly as dark, and it blended mostly into the background and it didn't start moving until the scene was almost over. There was no mistake, me and my dad watched this scene over and over and over trying to discern what the blob was (I got chills from it because I couldn't quite make out what was going on)

This particular link looks way too good for anything off of VHS or beta. I'm claiming it's photographic fakery.

OK this is more of what I remember only fuzzier.

Last edited by EvilTOJ; 08-24-2011 at 12:33 AM..
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  #20  
Old 08-24-2011, 07:57 PM
qazwart qazwart is offline
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The thing that gets me is that the three actors walk right up to the alleged body while singing. You'd think if there was a dead body there, one of them might have at least miss a beat.

I also know that scenes like this take multiple takes. Something always goes wrong. Someone turns a half second too soon, a missed step, some scenery drops down. Even if things went perfectly, you know they'd do at least thee or more "perfect takes" in order to cut and paste between them. They probably spent a whole day just shooting this one scene.

Somewhere, someone would have noticed "Hey, is that Ralph hanging in the background?"

Now, Ed Woods was known for shooting in one take, and it shows. Ed Wood didn't care if a tombstone fell, or the background changed from day to night and back to day in one scene. Or, if a policeman scratched himself with his loaded gun. If someone said there was a dead body hanging in the background of an Ed Woods film, I'd believe that.

It'd probably be one of the actors. "I'm staring in an Ed Woods film. My career is dead. I might as well end it all now". Heck, considering how cheap he ran things and the quality of the acting, it wouldn't surprise me if some of the actors were diseased. That way, he wouldn't have to pay scale.
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  #21  
Old 09-24-2011, 02:56 AM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
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Now, Ed Woods was known for shooting in one take, and it shows. Ed Wood didn't care if a tombstone fell, or the background changed from day to night and back to day in one scene.
Or if his name changed from "Woods" to "Wood" and back to "Woods" again in a single paragraph?
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  #22  
Old 09-24-2011, 03:27 AM
kozz kozz is offline
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whatever that thing is, it doesn't even look like a munchkin. It looks like a wicked witch. Probably the until-recently-good witch of the south who went bad when she heard she didn't get to appear in the movie.

If it's really there, it obviously doesn't weigh anything either, because it's clearly hanging sideways. Its center of mass should be under the part of the tree it's suspended from, instead it's way out where there's no tree above it at all.

It really looks like some kind of piece of fabric, flapping slowly in the breeze. Maybe something used to cover props that somebody hung there and forgot about.
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  #23  
Old 03-26-2012, 12:51 PM
Zebra Zebra is offline
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The thing that gets me is that the three actors walk right up to the alleged body while singing. You'd think if there was a dead body there, one of them might have at least miss a beat.


This
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  #24  
Old 03-26-2012, 12:54 PM
drewder drewder is offline
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This
but that's why he dressed up as a bird so no one would realize it till later. He then had his buddy cut him down and cover the whole thing up....
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  #25  
Old 08-24-2011, 10:20 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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That would explain Bela Lugosi.
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  #26  
Old 09-13-2011, 07:12 AM
LaurenIpsum LaurenIpsum is offline
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I just borrowed a VHS copy of this movie from my library. The cassette itself did not list a date, but the record in the library catalog listed a date of 1983 - but that doesn't sound quite correct. I was hoping it would be 1986, because that's supposedly the year that this YouTube person had.

But anyway, I checked out that scene on the VHS tape, and it was still a bird, no hanging object in the background. Which is what I had pretty much expected already, based on everyone else's comments.
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  #27  
Old 09-24-2011, 01:16 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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As legionmonkey wrote in the comments on the YouTube link in the OP, there's evidence this was put over the original video:
Quote:
some one put this over top the bird,proof is :50 , 1:34,and 2:57. third tree to the left FROM hanging figure,the white tree makes and X with the 3rd black tree,you can see clearly that there is a black thing poking out toward the cabin,this is the wing from the bird that we see stretching at this very same moment on all the other versions.
(the first one is at more like 0:52)
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  #28  
Old 03-24-2012, 12:42 PM
Andyfighter Andyfighter is offline
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I can prove that hanging video is fake!

It was an edited hoax and I can prove this very clearly.
I have made a video on youtube to point out that parts of the bird still appear in it, proving the bird has been edited out.
Both of the birds wing tips poke out from behind a tree, the editor has obviously missed them, its best to watch this in full screen

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAqvkj3HtGY

It was found on a vhs tape that claimed to be original, but you can clearly see it has been faked, someone made this as a hoax
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  #29  
Old 03-24-2012, 12:50 PM
Andyfighter Andyfighter is offline
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It was an edited hoax and I can prove this very clearly.
I have made a video on youtube to point out that parts of the bird still appear in it, proving the bird has been edited out.
Both of the birds wing tips poke out from behind a tree, the editor has obviously missed them, its best to watch this in full screen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAqvkj3HtGY

It was found on a vhs tape that claims to be original, but you can clearly see here it was faked
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  #30  
Old 03-26-2012, 12:29 PM
drewder drewder is offline
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You all are missing what really happened. The munchkin dressed up as a bird before hanging himself. Ps the video is fake
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  #31  
Old 03-26-2012, 01:04 PM
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Also if that is how it looked originally. IN the theatrical release, I find it hard to believe that nobody in all the millions of millions of people who watched the movie saw such an obvious hanging body.
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  #32  
Old 05-26-2015, 09:40 AM
allison gonzalez allison gonzalez is offline
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The body is supposed to be higher up you can see it in the film it is in the secne were the wicked witch comes out in the forest. I have the VHS version and have seen it.
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  #33  
Old 05-26-2015, 10:16 AM
silenus silenus is online now
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Good for you. But it still isn't there.
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  #34  
Old 05-27-2015, 04:59 PM
erysichthon erysichthon is offline
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So someone commits suicide on a studio soundstage filled with people, and none of those people have ever talked about it, not even the lead actors who danced right by the corpse without noticing or caring. MGM covers everything up, threatens everyone into signing confidentiality agreements, and even bribes the LA county medical examiner into silence ... but then they use the take containing the suicide in the film, despite having at least five or ten other usable takes.

Yeah, that makes perfect sense.
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  #35  
Old 05-27-2015, 05:11 PM
davidm davidm is offline
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Honestly, even if there were something like that in the background, the idea that it was a hanged munchkin would never cross my mind. I'd assume it was some piece of equipment or some prop that broke loose and was hanging by a cable or something like that. The whole legend is ridiculous.

Last edited by davidm; 05-27-2015 at 05:11 PM..
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  #36  
Old 05-27-2015, 05:34 PM
RivkahChaya RivkahChaya is offline
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Interesting topic/zombie thread combo.
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  #37  
Old 05-27-2015, 08:27 PM
Waltzes with Cacti Waltzes with Cacti is offline
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Those are fake trees on the set, probably constructed of cardboard or plywood. Some of them look one dimensional. An insubstantial fake tree would topple if someone tried to climb it. If it didn't fall over, likely the flimsy branch to which the rope was tied would break with the plunging weight of a body, even a small body.

Plus I don't see a step stool or ladder lying kicked over on the ground. Let's say I'm wrong about the trees and they are as sturdy as a man-o-war's mainmast, how did the suicidal munchkin get up the tree? Little people often have hip dysplasia and configurations of the thighs and spine that make shinning up a tree improbable.

I vote bird.
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  #38  
Old 05-27-2015, 09:29 PM
davidm davidm is offline
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Interesting topic/zombie thread combo.
Yeah, I was going to make some kind of joke about a zombie hanged munchkin but decided against it.
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  #39  
Old 05-28-2015, 08:11 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is online now
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Yeah, I was going to make some kind of joke about a zombie hanged munchkin but decided against it.
Stopped short, eh?
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  #40  
Old 05-27-2015, 09:38 PM
John W. Kennedy John W. Kennedy is offline
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And I knew about half of the last dozen or so surviving Munchkins. They would have talked about it.
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  #41  
Old 05-28-2015, 08:22 AM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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And I knew about half of the last dozen or so surviving Munchkins. They would have talked about it.
Nah, this was all over their heads.
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  #42  
Old 05-28-2015, 09:05 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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Munchkin jokes?
I thought we were bigger than this.

Last edited by Czarcasm; 05-28-2015 at 09:06 AM..
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  #43  
Old 06-02-2015, 09:29 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Stopped short, eh?
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Originally Posted by Ethilrist View Post
Nah, this was all over their heads.
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Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
Munchkin jokes?
I thought we were bigger than this.
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A Doper never stands so tall as when s/he stoops to work in a munchkin joke. You shouldn't belittle people for that.
Appalling. I refuse to stoop to your level.
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  #44  
Old 05-28-2015, 09:47 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is online now
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A Doper never stands so tall as when s/he stoops to work in a munchkin joke. You shouldn't belittle people for that.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 05-28-2015 at 09:50 AM..
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  #45  
Old 05-28-2015, 10:44 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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I have it on good authority that they actually hanged the bird that was loose on the set after it was captured. The crew spent so much time trying to get the thing off the set that they figured it was a warning to all the other animals that had broken loose. After shooting they were appalled at the sight of a bird hanging from it's neck in the background that they immediately went to work on the only print available hand coloring the frames one by one to cover it up. Unfortunately in the editing room they only got the message to "cover up that damn hanging bird" so they drew in a hanging Munchkin instead. This print was copied and made it out to several theaters and one of the reels was used in an early video copy for television. Upon noticing the hanging Munchkin in the background the studio immediately had all the copies collected and again hand edited to remove the offending image. Unfortunately in the rush to simply color over the previous modification they accidentally created an image that looked like Satan having sex with Dorothy and Toto. Horrified again they search through remaining outtakes and found a scene where the bird was still running loose in the background. Now with modern video editing software they were able to patch in the image of the loose bird in the background that is seen in most video releases. It makes such perfect sense I can't see a reason to doubt the story. Or perhaps it was just a loose bird on the set to start with, but what's the likelihood of that happening?
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  #46  
Old 05-28-2015, 12:19 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is online now
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Well, if you look closely, the "bird" is strolling about on a grassy knoll. Makes perfect sense to me.
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  #47  
Old 06-02-2015, 09:36 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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Somewhere, under a rainbow
Far below
There's a tale of a munchkin
Swinging from a rope, to and fro
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