Aren’t You a Little Leonine for a Winkie Guard?

Okay, here’s a question about the MGM Wizard of Oz that I actually haven’t seen discussed before. When the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion are trying to infiltrate the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle to rescue Dorothy, the Scarecrow says he has a plan to get in that requires the Lion to lead. This brings on the classic line where the Lion agrees, but says he wants the others to talk him out of it. They’re then ambushed by three guards, whom they manage to knock out and steal their uniforms, using those to sneak in.

But was this the Scarecrow’s original plan, or something improvised after the guards noticed them? If the latter, what WAS his plan? I suppose we’ll never know. There are many oddities about the scene anyway. Why were they noticed by exactly the number of guards they needed to knock out, while none of the others even came close to seeing them?

How did it happen that the uniforms fit them, and no one saw that their faces didn’t look anything like those of the other largely identical green-faced guards? There’s no scene comparable to this in the book, in which only Dorothy and Toto are present for the Wicked Witch’s death. MGM presumably wanted to get all of the stars on screen for this climactic moment. What’s amusing is an old trailer I saw mentioned that the film included everything from the book, including “the rescue of Dorothy,” which was original with the movie. And while the guards can’t spot a lion in a guard uniform, they seem more component than the Witch’s soldiers in the book, who are scared away by a mere roar from the Lion.

Their chant, by the way, is officially just nonsense syllables, not “All we own, we owe” or “Oh, we love the old one,” contrary to popular rumor.

The idea of tricking somebody by dressing up in their henchmen’s uniforms is an old one, with TV Tropes citing The Iliad as an early example. The Trojans take the uniforms from some dead Greeks and put them on in order to launch an ambush. More recent appearances often tend to reference the Oz scene, complete with the uniforms fitting perfectly. Well, except when they make a joke out of it, and the uniform either fits terribly or manages to fit despite the knocked-out enemy being nowhere near the same size.

Or sometimes the people trying to steal the outfits will be the ones who get knocked out. Star Wars played this fairly straight with the protagonists wearing Storm Trooper uniforms, which conveniently also covered their faces, but weren’t perfect fits. That’s presumably why Leia thought Luke was short for a Storm Trooper, even though it never looked to me like most of them were all that tall.

Then again, that could just be because Darth Vader towered over them. Gwendoline Christie, who plays Captain Phasma, is REALLY tall.

The Star Wars bit is parodied in Final Fantasy VI if you have Locke rescue Celes while in the clothing of an Imperial soldier.

Locke mentions when stealing the clothes that they’re a little too big, while the merchant outfit is a tight fit. It’s made even funnier by the battle screen convention in that game that makes the enemies considerably bigger than the heroes even when it doesn’t make sense.

FF7 has a bit where your characters dress in Shinra military uniforms, and these characters include the lion-like Red XIII, who has trouble walking on his hind legs and a tail that hangs out the back in Cowardly Lion fashion.

This entry was posted in Final Fantasy, Humor, L. Frank Baum, Oz, Oz Authors, Star Wars, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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