Over theRainbow with sheet music
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“Over the Rainbow” is a ballad composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg. It was written for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and was sung by actress Judy Garland in her starring role as Dorothy Gale. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and became Garland’s signature song.
About five minutes into the film, Dorothy sings the song after failing to get Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, and the farmhands to listen to her story of an unpleasant incident involving her dog, Toto, and the town spinster, Miss Gulch (Margaret Hamilton). Aunt Em tells her to “find yourself a place where you won’t get into any trouble”. This prompts her to walk off by herself, musing to Toto, “Some place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It’s not a place you can get to by a boat, or a train. It’s far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain…”, at which point she begins singing.
The “Over the Rainbow” and Kansas scenes were directed by the uncredited King Vidor, because the film’s main director, Victor Fleming, was called in by David O. Selznick and MGM to direct Gone with the Wind. Fleming would later return to oversee the editing and post-production on The Wizard of Oz.
The song was initially deleted from the film after a preview in San Luis Obispo, California, because MGM chief executive Louis B. Mayer thought it “slowed down the picture,” was being far over the heads over its targeted children audience, and sounded “like something for Jeanette MacDonald, not for a little girl singing in a barnyard”. Fleming, producer Mervyn LeRoy, associate producer Arthur Freed, and Roger Edens, who was Judy Garland’s vocal coach and mentor, fought together to have the song reinserted back into the film and they eventually won.
At the start of the film, part of the song is played by the MGM orchestra over the opening credits. A reprise of the song was deleted after being filmed. The reprise was to be sung by Dorothy while she was locked in the Wicked Witch’s castle, helplessly awaiting death as the hourglass is running out. Although the visual portion of that reprise is presumably lost, the soundtrack still exists and was included in the 2-CD Deluxe Edition of the film’s soundtrack released by Rhino Entertainment in 1995.
In that intense rendition, Dorothy cries her way through it, unable to finish, concluding with, “I’m frightened, Auntie Em, I’m frightened!” This phrase was retained in the film and is followed immediately by Aunt Em’s brief appearance in the crystal ball, where she is soon replaced by the visage of the Wicked Witch, (Margaret Hamilton), mocking and taunting Dorothy before turning the camera toward her cackle. Another instrumental version is played in the underscore in the final scene and over the closing credits.
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