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This Wizard of Oz character had delicious tears, and here’s why

Family movie The Wizard of Oz used some innovative cinema tricks to make its adventure movie world come to life, and that's why it's a classic.

The Tin Man in classic family movie The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is one of the best family movies ever made, and probably one of the best movies ever made, full stop. The colourful, magical adventure movie remains a pinnacle of 20th century cinema, and a staple for any movie fan.

Many column inches have been spilled over the years around the making of the fantasy movie, which follows Judy Garland as she is transported from Kansas to the magical land of Oz and pitted against the Wicked Witch of the West – a movie villain for the ages.

Given that this was a rare ’30s movie to use colour photography, there was some trickery at play in order to make sure everything looked as good as possible on the silver screen.

This absolutely came into play when it came to the Tin Man. It’s a well-worn tale that Jack Haley took over the role when the original actor Buddy Ebsen was hospitalised as a result of an allergic reaction to the aluminium powder in his make-up.

That switch wasn’t the end of the innovation when it came to the Tin Man, with the crew discovering that a scene in which the engine oil used – including during a scene of the character crying – looked rubbish on camera. Their solution? They used chocolate syrup instead. Lovely.

Haley himself explained this in the book The Wizardry of Oz by Jay Scarfone and William Stillman. He said: “The oil [Scarecrow actor] Ray Bolger squirted at me, to loosen up my joints, was not oil but chocolate syrup. They squirted chocolate in my face, because the oil wouldn’t photograph right, but chocolate will.”

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It’s a neat example of the ingenuity that went into making The Wizard of Oz into the spectacular drama movie it ended up being, standing the test on time more than many other movies based on books.

For some of the greatest entertainment throughout the years, check out our lists of the best ’80s movies, the best ’90s movies, and the best 2000s movies. Or take a look at the new movies coming in 2023 and beyond.