Sunday, October 30, 1994

Quentin Tarantino's Wizard of Oz

WIZARD: Harvey Keitel.
LION: Samuel L. Jackson
SCARECROW: Steve Buscemi
TINMAN: Michael Madsen
DOROTHY: Linda Fiorentino

DOROTHY and her friends stride into OZ's vast, echoing hall. Purposeful, not polite.

The head flames to life.

OZ: Can I believe my eyes? Why ... (pause) Why have you come back?

DOROTHY: Surprised?

DOROTHY kicks broom across the shiny, green marble floor.

DOROTHY: Weren't expecting me, huh?

LION: No, man. Big fuckin' head over there? He ain't expecting shit.

The head flames again. Oz roars.

OZ: I am the great and powerful Wizard of Oz!

SCARECROW: Yeah. And you made a great and powerful miscalculation. We're supposed to be dead.

OZ: I am the great ...

LION: Hey, fuck that talking head shit. (pointing) Check out the goddamn dog.

TOTO starts sniffing around a curtain hiding ... something.

SCARECROW: Dogs are smart. They got like a fucking instinct or something.

LION: Instinct for bullshit.

TOTO pulls the curtain open, revealing the man -- OZ, the very human grifter -- working the controls. DOROTHY and her FRIENDS surround him.

OZ: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

LION: Bust that shit up.

TINMAN: With pleasure. (advances with axe)

SCARECROW: (blocking him) No. That's expensive hi-fi shit, man. We can sell it.

Their voices echo from the sound system. Painful feedback.

TINMAN: I can't stand this fucking --

SCARECROW: Then turn it the fuck off. (turns a nob) See? Sounds of silence.

LION: Motherfucker got some explaining to do.

OZ: I'm a very good man, but I'm a very bad wizard.

TINMAN: No. Actually. You're a very dead fuck.

Clubs him with flat end of the axe.

OZ: (stunned) Why ... Why'd you--

TINMAN: Why? You're asking me why?

OZ: Why --

TINMAN: 'Cause it amuses me. 'Cause you asked, fucker. I don't even have a fucking heart. (raising axe) You wanna see how it feels?


LION: Tie him up. I ain't got all damn day.

OZ's POV. The TINMAN smiles. Lifts his axe ...


They slap OZ back into consciousness. He's tied to a chair, beaten bloody. DOROTHY and FRIENDS are laughing at him.

LION: You were asking?

OZ: Asking?

LION: Well then, allow me to refresh your memory. You posed the Tinman here a question. "Why" ...

OZ: (delirious) Oh. Yes .. yes. "Why"... Why are you doing this?

LION: Yeah. You said that already. Allow me to ...

OZ: Why ..

LION: Say why again! I dare you! I double dare you!

OZ: Why ...

TINMAN: (raising axe) I'll fucking kill you!

LION: No, man. Let him answer the damn question. Then kill him.

TINMAN: How 'bout I kill him, and then he answers it?

LION: No. (to SCARECROW) Hey motormouth. You got all that verbal ability. This lying motherfucker here asked why. Fucking explain it to him.

SCARECROW dances up. Punch-drunk, loopy.

SCARECROW: Why? Why, why, why. (hits him) Why'd I hit you? (hits him) Why'd I fucking hit you again? Why are we gonna kill you?

They laugh. SCARECROW slaps OZ silly again.

OZ: Why ...?

SCARECROW: Good question! Let's pose a hypothetical. That's lawyer talk. You know what it means?

OZ: Y-yes.

SCARECROW: Outstanding! (slaps him) Now here's the hypothetical, so pay attention.

OZ groans.

SCARECROW: OK. Let's say there's this teenaged girl living in white trash Kansas. Some sorry-ass third world country drop the fucking H-bomb on Kansas City and her fucking Airstream trailer rides the shockwave and miraculously lands in Uganda intact and crushes Idi Amin's second in command. The poor kid walks into a war zone. There's a war going on, civil war, worst kind of war there is. Now she's a fucking refugee. She's running for her fucking life. What does she do? She teams up with three other fuck-ups who are all running for their lives. And they all go to this guy for help. The big cheese, lives in some enclave like Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. The locals all think he's King Shit. But he's really some grifter from the USA who's been hiding out. He's spread this big story to the local yokels about his magical powers -- sound familiar? Hey, I asked you a question.

OZ nods.

SCARECROW: Yeah, I thought so. The kid's scared. She's a stranger in a strange land full of weird fucking shit and she doesn't know the rules. So, the kid and the three fuck-ups finally meet the magic man. "I wanna go home," she says, "Send me back home, if there's anything left of it." He's fucking pissing his pants this little girl might blow his cover. So, you know what he says to her? "Yeah, sure, I'll send you back. If you bring me Idi Amin's machine gun." Get it? What are the fucking odds of success? I'll tell you. None. Zero. Squat.

OZ: This is hardly ...

LION: You stone cold motherfucker. You sent her to die. You sent us all to die.

TINMAN: (OS) This head thing. It's like a projector. All that fire. That's gotta come from somewhere. (starts rooting around -- OS)

SCARECROW: Whatever man.

TINMAN: (OS) Kerosene! It's like a bigass barbecue grill. Hahaha!

SCARECROW: We need some fucking music in here.

Starts fiddling with dials.

SCARECROW: (OS) Hey! Stealer's Wheel!

"Stuck in the Middle with You" starts playing. DOROTHY walks up to OZ.

DOROTHY: We coulda been friends, you and me. You're kinda cute. That's the tragedy.

OZ: Wait! You need me!

DOROTHY: I need you?

OZ: I have a balloon.

SCARECROW: He has a fucking balloon!

OZ: I'm from Kansas City! The Omaha State Fair ...

They laugh.

OZ: You don't understand! I can take you home! You can't get home without me!

DOROTHY walks up to him and kisses him wetly.

DOROTHY: Fuck home. Somebody take care of this Kansas City motherfucker.

TINMAN: With pleasaure.

He starts dancing around with the axe. Dances out of frame.

DOROTHY: Let's get something to eat.

SCARECROW: Read my mind, gorgeous. I'm starving to death.

LION: Yeah. Me too. Ate a fucking munchkin outside but they like Chinese food. (shouting to TINMAN) You want anything?

TINMAN: No. I'm having my own barbecue.

He dances back into frame with a can of kerosene. Splashes OZ with it.

TINMAN: See you when I see you.

He dances. In a kind of trance.

SCARECROW: He's doing his thing again. Hey! Act like a fucking professional!

TINMAN ignores him, keeps dancing.

LION: Let's split this fucking joint.

DOROTHY: I love you. I love all of you.

DOROTHY puts her arm around the LION and SCARECROWs shoulders with great familiarity. They leave. "Stuck in the Middle with You" continues to play. OZ screams. The Tinman dances with his axe.