Classic ‘Wizard of Oz’ line permeates pop culture

08/15/2014 6:09 PM

08/17/2014 7:38 AM

Say you’re writing a screenplay for a movie or a script for a television series.

Say your character is surprised by his or her surroundings or needs to express that things have just gotten very, very weird.

Hmm... Whatever should that character say?

If you’re from Kansas, you already know what the writer will type next.

“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

Actually, to be exact, the line is “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” and it originated in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz.” It’s been borrowed liberally over the years by movies, television shows, headline writers, political pundits, reality show producers, social media users and every day conversationalists.

The line is so iconic, in fact, that it was No. 4 on a list of the top 100 movie quotes of all time that was compiled in 2005 by the American Film Institute – ahead, even, of “May the Force Be With You” and “Here’s looking at you, kid.” It even outranked “There’s no place like home,” another famous line from “Oz.”

“At the core of it, the ‘Wizard of Oz’ is maybe one of the most beloved classic films of all times, and even though there are a lot of other good quotes in that film, that one sticks out,” said Nick Pope, programming director for Wichita’s Tallgrass Film Festival. “It defines the classic fish-out-of-water story.”

Throughout the years, it’s also been the classic fish-out-of-water line:

*In 1989’s “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” the recently shrunken Amy tells her brother, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.” He replies, “I don’t think we’re in the food chain anymore, Dorothy.”

*In 2010’s “Sex and the City II,” Carrie Bradshaw and her ladies arrive in a lavish hotel in Abu Dhabi. “Oh Toto,” she purrs. “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

*In 1986’s “Little Shop of Horrors,” Audrey asks Audrey II, “Am I dreaming?” The reply: “No, and you ain’t in Kansas, neither.”

*In a famous speech from 2009’s “Avatar,” Col. Quaritch says, “You are not in Kansas anymore. You are on Pandora, ladies and gentlemen. Respect that fact every second of every day.”

*The list of television series that haven’t borrowed the line might be shorter than the list of those that have. The latter includes “Entourage,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” Married...With Children,” “Criminal Minds,” “CSI Miami,” “Supernatural” and “The Gilmore Girls,” just to name a few.

*Jo Dee Messina had a top 10 country hit in 1996 with the song “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore.” And episodes of “Roseanne,” “90210” and the reality show “Deadliest Catch” have used the trope for a title.

Chris Wren-Rizza, who is the projectionist for The Orpheum in Wichita and for several other theaters across the state, has shown “The Wizard of Oz” many times during his career and said Kansans frequently chuckle when they hear the line in the theater.

He knew it was a part of cinema culture, he said, but he didn’t realize how much it was a part of American culture until he relocated his home base to Kansas City, Mo., last year.

When he first arrived in Missouri, Wren-Rizza said it himself without thinking, he said with a laugh. And recently, when he told a colleague, “That’s not how we did it in Wichita,” he was reminded where he was not anymore.

Online

Movie and television characters frequently discover they’re not in Kansas any more. A popular “supercut” on the Internet, which can be found on YouTube.com by searching “Not in Kansas Anymore,” strings together 58 clips culled from movies, television shows and news shows that feature some variation of the line.

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