Tag Archives: margaret hamilton

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters 1.11 – Make Room for Big Daddy

The more antagonists a show like this has, the better. This episode features a new recurring menace for the boys, a crotchety old lady who has moved in next door. Miss Eddels is so crotchety that Zelda becomes their ally. She’s played by Margaret Hamilton, the immortal Wicked Witch of the West. I let our son know that the actress was forty years older and a lot less green than the last time he saw her.

Even without the amusing star power of the show’s latest antagonist, this really would be a great episode, and our boy howled with laughter through the whole thing. Milt Rosen contributed a pretty simple farce with mother-in-law jokes and nosy neighbors that just has a few fish puns added to the script, but it’s such a good script that it doesn’t matter that it could easily be repurposed for just about any other show with kid antagonists. One of my favorite beautifully funny moments is when we see that they’ve run away from home, Blurp and Slurp arrive at Sigmund’s clubhouse with little suitcases.

But even that pales before the perfection of the “farewell” note they allegedly leave Big Daddy, which Johnny has forged to bring him to help, and plants in his favorite chair. The “don’t try to find us” note explicitly explains where they have gone. The detail isn’t punctuated with a punch line or a stupid laugh track. It isn’t needed. Nobody could possibly be so stupid, except, of course, for Blurp and Slurp.

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The Wizard of Oz (1939)

I had planned for us to watch The Wizard of Oz sometime next month, but I got a craving to see it again so we moved it forward. I’ll have less to say here than in other chapters about movies; you know this story already and it’s one of the most written-about films in Hollywood’s history. I have nothing to add beyond our own experience.

We stopped it and restarted it after about five minutes. Our son wasn’t paying a lick of attention. But we forced the issue and he loved it. Our son was happy and laughing aloud through much of the movie, making occasional exclamations of delight over the proceedings. “Those munchkins hatch from an egg?!” “A lion afraid of imaginary sheep!” he called out with glee. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Wizard of Oz is flawless.

My only quibble is that I can’t stand the high-pitched voices of the Munchkins, but whoever designed their costumes deserved all the awards in the industry. Ray Bolger and Bert Lahr are hilarious and perfect in their roles, and I always spare a thought for poor Jack Haley, lumbered in one of the the era’s most uncomfortable costumes and makeup jobs. The Tin Man was our son’s favorite character, so we appreciate Mr. Haley suffering for his art.

At any rate, glee turned to anxiety when our heroes went off to obtain the witch’s broomstick. That amazing scene between Judy Garland and Margaret Hamilton had him wide-eyed and desperately hugging Mom, and the whole rescue sequence had him kicking and jumping and dashing to the staircase behind our sofa in anxiety and excitement.

I was concerned, of course, about whether the Wicked Witch would terrify our son. As somebody who wishes to be a better wordsmith than I am, I have always been pleased by Joseph Berger’s 1985 obituary of Hamilton in The New York Times, which describes her as “the actress whose role as the cackling Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz unnerved generations of children.” That’s so perfect.

This blog is nearly two years old. We began it with H.R. Pufnstuf, creating a worry of witches that has lasted to this day. Margaret Hamilton’s performance, I am pleased to say, retains its power to unnerve after nearly eight decades.

I have not watched The Wizard of Oz in quite a long time. See, about eleven years ago, I was dating this beautiful Little Green Girl, as she liked to be known, who absolutely loved Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked – the musical less so – and who insisted that I read the book, over my objections and suspicions. She didn’t even allow me to buy the edition with the cover that tied in with beautifully-designed artwork of the musical, forcing a book with a far less interesting cover on me.

So I read the novel over the course of a week, and finished up with a public display of whimpering, crying and downright bawling when the Wicked Witch meets her unfortunate end. I was on my lunch break in a Jason’s Deli in Alpharetta and made such a Mary-at-Chuckles’-funeral spectacle of myself I never darkened that restaurant’s door ever again. The relationship didn’t last, but it cemented my love for the witch to the point that I just haven’t wanted to see that awful child from Kansas kill her again.

Naturally, of course, that was our son’s favorite scene. Kids!

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