A Wizard of Oz Leitmotif in Steven Spielberg's films
1941 – directed in 1979
Another film that from beginning to end sports the colors of red and yellow as its alma mater. (Donna’s and the B-17’s accessories, Belushi’s kewpie doll, the snipers on the Ferris wheel) I started by listing all the examples but it grew so tedious…I’ll leave it to viewers to confirm…could make a good drinking game! See Schindler’s List, Jaws, Sugarland Express, 1941, Joe vs. the Volcano, Twister, Inner Space for accents of ruby slippers and yellow brick road.
A chandelier crashes down after the jitterbug contest. Its collapse allows Betty her chance to run. Same sequence can be found in WOO when Tinman chops chandelier’s tether and they all get loose.
When Betty’s champion dance partner begins to wake from being knocked out cold he is chanting “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home,” like Dorothy waking from her dream.
There’s a scene where John Candy gets covered in soot, then dusts Frank McRae with white powder. Check out McRae’s nose with a dark tip. It looks flattened exactly like Tinman’s hollow-tipped nose. Meanwhile John Candy after realizing he is coated black begins hollering “Get it off!” much like Scarecrow does when the witch throws flame at his arm.
IMDb lists Bing Crosby singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” at Betty’s parents’ house as a goof since it wasn’t recorded until 1943. If so, it was a deliberate goof. Steven like his home references. SeeJaws, War Horse, The Terminal, A.I., The Color Purple, Sugarland Express, Close Encounters, Empire of the Sun, Catch Me if You Can, Saving Private Ryan, War of the Worlds, Super 8, Amistad, Minority Report, Munich, Hook, Poltergeist, E. T. , Used Cars.
Steven makes fun of himself in many places including his old standby scene of home’s front door opening outside to a dangerous world. This scene reverses the idea that home is sanctuary and the outside world is dangerous. In this case, the sanctuary has fallen off the cliff. See Sugarland, Close Encounters, Saving Private Ryan.
A boy on his bicycle is sent to rescue the ferris wheel snipers. Spielberg has a tender spot in his heart for cyclists, particularly speedy ones. See Munich, Adventures of Tintin, Amistad, 1941, Always, Super 8, War of the Worlds, Empire of the Sun,The Goonies, Sugarland Express, Jaws, Inner Space.
Not WOO but fun anyway…spoofs of other movies and stars abound: Jaws, The Graduate, It Happened One Night, Jerry Lewis, etc.