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Wizard of Oz's tornado made movie history

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Seventy-five years ago was a major moment in Hollywood and Kansas history.

This day in 1939 The Wizard of Oz premiered. It was first played at a theater in Wisconsin before opening to the public two weeks later.

Now, three quarters of a century later, the movie still stands as a classic with characters and lines that people of all ages recognize. It has since inspired dozens of spinoffs that include other movies, books, television shows and even musicals.

The movie also set the pace for how tornadoes are portrayed in film even though technology has evolved quite a bit since then. Special effects over the decades have gotten much better, but even in 1939 they did a few things right.

There wasn't much in the way of computers back then so, to make the tornado, the studio constructed a 35-foot sock with rods moving it back and forth across a sound stage.

According to KCTV5 meteorologist Jim Kosek, the film did just OK in the accuracy department. The wall cloud looks pretty realistic but, when a tornado assumes a rope shape like it does in the movie, it should be weakening instead of getting stronger.

By the time the movie Twister came out in 1996, things had changed. For that film, crews constructed a five-story scale model and used indoor fans to move it around.

Now, in 2014, there is the new flick Into the Storm. It combines the latest in digital technology with documentary footage.

Love tornadoes or hate them, they are one of Mother Nature's most humbling powers and a motif Hollywood will always come back to using.

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