This came up during the weekend. MilliCal asked for The Wizard of Oz to be put on for the zillionth time, and it hit me.
CalMeacham: Hey! Why is everyone happy at the end? Toto’s still under a Sentence of Death!
Pepper Mill: No, he isn’t. Miss Gulch gets killed.
CM: They never say that, though.
PM: She did. Remember when she’s in the tornado?
CM: That’s just a dream.
PM: It doesn’t matter. She’s dead. It’s the only way to have a happy ending.
I guess it’s true, at least as far as the movie logic goes. There’s no way you could leave that end dangling (“Welcome home, Dorothy! Here comes the sheriff for your dog!”), and you don’t want to make your audience do a moral doubletake at the Happy Ending (“Oh, and by the way, Miss Gulch is dead!” “Yay!!!”).
Technically, though, I still don’t think this would save Toto – the paper work had already gone through.