Under the Rainbow
October 1, 2011

It’s 1938, and Rollo (Cork Hubbert) dreams of making it to Hollywood. The good-heartedness underlying the slapstick goofiness is summed up early on, as Rollo, when told his dreams of making it in Hollywood are “just too big”, responds, “There’s no dream too big, and no dreamer too small.”

Under the Rainbow DVD

He gets a chance when he becomes one of 150 little people rounded up to play munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. This film purports to show what happens when they’re all in a hotel together for one big party. But they’re not the only attendees.

Chevy Chase is a Secret Service agent sent to protect a visiting Duke (Joseph Maher, afraid of assassination) and Duchess (Eve Arden, playing blind as a bat) and their dog Strudel (who keeps dying). Carrie Fisher is named special talent coordinator to wrangle the munchkins and provides some romance while wearing lovely period outfits. Adam Arkin is the young nephew left in charge of the hotel, way out of his depths. But it gets really weird with Billy Barty, playing a Nazi agent trying to connect with a Japanese spy (Mako). Since the spy has only been told that his contact was of small size, much mistaken identity ensues once they all wind up at the hotel, along with a busload of photo-taking Japanese tourists.

I’m not sure what it says about me that I’ve seen this movie set behind-the-scenes more often than The Wizard of Oz itself. Probably that it ran on HBO a LOT during one boring summer. It was great fun seeing it again, even if the jokes sometimes fall flat or are in bad taste or try too hard. It’s just such a weirdly demented premise, and I found it enjoyable silliness with plenty of visual interest, especially once the little people, in various bits of Oz-like costume, form a “midget posse”. (I also enjoyed the Gone With the Wind cameos.) Thanks to the Warner Archive for making it possible! The release has no extras but does provide a clean copy in widescreen.

Remember, “the pearl is in the river.”

2 Responses  
Jim Kosmicki writes:  

i too remember this movie. I remember liking it quite a bit, and that the parts with the little people were much, much more enjoyable than the Chevy Chase parts. Billy Barty was always a ham, and he has a lot of fun in this one. The little person who played the main character was very likable and stayed acting for a while after the film.

Bill D. writes:  

I remember watching this a lot on HBO as a kid, too. Possibly the same summer I also watched Midnight Madness and The Pirate Movie a few times a week, but I can’t be sure. All I remember was that this was the movie that really cemented my childhood crush on Carrie Fisher, even more so than Star Wars and Empire ever did.


»  Substance: WordPress   »  Style: Ahren Ahimsa
Copyright 2009-2015 Johanna Draper Carlson