The scarecrow in Return to Oz (due to budget cuts) was a little more than minimally articulated. His head was cable operated and relied almost entirely on the movements of an agile and incredible performer, Justin Case, for its realism.
"Its a very dynamic mask," says Case, a celebrated London mime artist who has toured European cities and appeared on the BBC-TV wit his one-man show. "It's very photogenic, very powerful." The Scarecrow in this film is nothing like his counterpart in the 1939 musical. "This one is much more animated and gives you much more chance to speak visually with the body," says Case. "The other one was obviously quite verbal, singing and stuff."
But Pans Maar, who designed and coordinated the maneuvers for all of the various residents in Oz, had something in mind for Case other than typical, floppy stumble. "Almost all my work was to develop a graceful look, so he's not just a very limber-legged character, not a monster who happens to have limber legs. He is made of straw and, of course, he's very light and his limbs get away from him - but the Scarecrow is the king too. So if a limb goes away from him, it gets away in a graceful way. He is also uncommonly at ease with his boneless grace. He doesn't look at his leg and go "Oh! I'm falling!" It's just the way he is. When you open a door and walk through, you don't look back and say "Oh, I've gone through a door!" Its just second nature. So I've taken that quality - keeping the limberness in the body, but giving him a bit more regalness."
Although Justin Case and Pons Maar rallied nobly by providing the spirit of the character, Lyle Conway was less than satisfied with the final product. "It's one of those things that for a whole bunch of reasons, just didn't come together. It was going to be in briefly at the end of the film, and everybody said we didn't have to have an overly mechanized thing. Then all of the sudden it was turning up in quite a few of the big scenes. There are these lingering closeups on the head that don't work - it doesn't do anything! I am embarrassed by that." But despite all of the flaws and budget cuts on the Scarecrow he seemed to "come alive" on the screen.
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