Saturday, May 28, 2011

Liza Minnelli & Mickey Rooney in Journey Back to Oz (1971)

Obscurity factor: 6

This official sequel to The Wizard of Oz (1939) has many casting connections to the original. Liza Minnelli plays Dorothy, reprising her mother's role. Margaret Hamilton is also in the film, but plays Aunt Em, rather than the Wicked Witch. Mickey Rooney - another tie to Judy Garland - plays the Scarecrow. Also in the cast are Milton Berle (Cowardly Lion), Paul Lynde (Pumpkinhead), Danny Thomas (The Tin Man) and Ethel Merman (as Mombi, cousin of the Wicked Witch). The story is roughly based on Baum's second book - The Marvelous Land of Oz and finds Dorothy delivered to Oz again by a cyclone. Once there she attempts to reach the Emerald City where the Scarecrow now reigns as king. Mombi, however has it in for her because of what she did to her cousin and tries to thwart her progress. Along the way she meets Pumpkinhead, who was conjured up by Mombi, but has since gone AWOL. Of course Mombi throws every obstacle she can think of in Dorothy's way - green elephants, murderous trees, confining furniture - can Dorothy and her allies thwart her evil plans?

This film was first released on Britain in 1971, then in the US in 1974. One can only imagine Minnelli's feelings about reprising a role that was so identified with her mother so soon after she had passed away. The Wizard is conspicuously absent from this story, however in the TV release in 1976, segments were introduced by The Wizard played in live action by Bill Cosby. Listen for Mel Blanc as Mombi's crow.

This film is available on DVD though is out of print, and can be difficult to find. It's also available on YouTube in its entirety, thanks to an upload by darthranerful. The poster above is available at

Obscurity factor: 6 (on DVD & YouTube, remembered by small cadre of fans)


  1. I was big fan of the books when I was a kid...I think i read thirteen of them....over and over! Loved the Disney "Return to Oz" because I always felt it was more faithful to books, even if a mashup. I must find this animated one now!

  2. I had read in the past that the voice and music recording was done in the early-1960s. I just did a quick Internet search, and between the IMDB entry and the Wikipedia entry this appears to be correct. IMDB states that the voice and music were recorded in 1964, while Wikipedia states that the project was begun in 1962 but due to financial difficulties it was not completed until 1971. It is interesting that Margaret Hamilton was the voice of Aunt Em in this one. I remember when it was originally released in the US in 1974. I never saw it, but remember the TV ads for it. I also remember my mom saying to one of her friends that she thought it was kind of strange that Liza was voicing Dorothy in this. I am sure most people were unaware that Liza recorded her part about five years before her mother died.

  3. I saw that it was begun in 1962 as well, but didn't realize that the voice recording was completed then. That's an interesting bit of information. It's also an interesting note in Liza's career - by 1974 she was doing pretty edgy, sexy stuff, so her part in this was sort of incongruous...