Journey Back to Oz (G)
IMDb; Oz Wiki; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: none that I know of.
So... for many years, I had this terribly vague memory of a movie set in Oz. My memory was so vague that I thought I very well might have only dreamt it. But if I had actually seen such a movie, it would have been when I was so young that it wouldn't be surprising I couldn't remember it well. In fact I'd say it was more surprising that I remembered it at all. Anyway, a long time after my first memories of such a movie, I read about this movie online. It mentioned green elephants, which was the main thing I remembered from the movie I thought I might have seen. (Or I might have thought they were pink elephants, I'm not sure.) So I really wanted to see this movie, in the hopes that it would turn out to be what I was thinking about. I should say, this movie came out in 1972 (or 1974 according to some websites, I'm really not sure what to believe). Either way, it was before I was born (in 1975). The movie I thought I might have seen would have been on TV, probably in the early 80s (though I wouldn't discount the possibility of the late 70s). Well, I finally got this movie on DVD in 2017, and... now that I've watched it, I'm still not sure if it's the one I was thinking of or not. Because if there was one thing I thought I remembered other than the elephants, it was the powder of life. And that isn't in this movie at all. (The only other Oz movie I'm aware of having the powder of life was Return to Oz, which came out in 1985. And I'm pretty sure that whether I saw an Oz movie about green elephants or only dreamt of it, either way it would have definitely been earlier than 1985.) And... well, nothing about this movie was familiar at all. I mean aside from the elephants. And since I only remembered the fact of oddly-colored elephants, rather than having a specific memory of what they actually looked like, or anything, I really can't say that their presence here proves that this is the movie I was thinking of. Even so, I'm glad to have finally seen it.
So... it's supposed to be a sequel to the 1939 movie, even though that was live-action and this is animated. It starts with Dorothy thinking about Oz as another tornado is heading toward her family's farm. I should mention that Dorothy is voiced by Liza Minnelli (who is of course Judy Garland's daughter), and I thought she sounded a lot like the Dorothy from the original movie. And Aunt Em is voiced by Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch in the original movie (though I don't think her voice is recognizable). Anyway, before long Dorothy and Toto once again find themselves in Oz. Dorothy meets a pumpkin-headed character named Pumpkinhead (voiced by Paul Lynde). And incidentally, there was a very similar character in "Return to Oz," though by the time I saw that in the mid-80s, I certainly had no recollection of having ever seen such a character previously. Pumpkinhead had been created by Mombi (another character I would later see in "Return to Oz," though she looked completely different here), and he wanted to get away from her. But Toto chases a cat straight to Mombi's cottage, where she meets a crow (voiced by Mel Blanc), and discovers that Mombi is cooking up a magical potion to create green elephants, which she plans to use to conquer Emerald City. So, Dorothy and Pumpkinhead go to warn the Scarecrow (Mickey Rooney, whose voice I also found unrecognizable).
In spite of his "brane," King Scarecrow has no idea what to do about Mombi, and before he has time to even think much about it, she and her elephants show up and take over. So Dorothy and Pumpkinhead... decide to go to Tinland, to seek the Tin Man's help. Actually... wait. At some point, they met a wooden horse named Woodenhead, and now I can't remember if they met him before or after going to Emerald City. Whatever, it's not important. The Tin Man can't help, so he suggests they seek the Cowardly Lion's help. And he can't help, so they seek Glinda's help. And she provides them with a bit of magic, but mostly they'll be on their own, when they return to Emerald City to try to rescue Scarecrow.
And I guess that's all I want to reveal of the plot. It all continues longer than I would have expected. And I was disappointed that none of it was really familiar (well, Mombi's fate was kind of how I remembered it), though I still think there's a chance this is the movie I was thinking of. (Or maybe I dreamt my own movie that was partially inspired by this. Or maybe there was some other Oz thing I saw that I've forgotten even more fully than I forgot this. I don't know.) In any event, there were several songs in the movie, which I generally didn't think were very good. But at least Minnelli was a good singer (unlike most of the other actors who had songs), so I didn't mind so much. And there were definitely some things in the movie that I thought were pretty funny. And it was all rather surreal, I guess. So... I liked it. Kind of. And whether or not this is the movie I vaguely remembered from my distant youth, I'm going to consider this nostalgic. Because it has green elephants, dammit.