Aunt Em's Photo

The Wizard of Oz


Professor Marvel, as he calls himself on the side of his wagon, is a phony fortune teller but a good enough observer and showman to deceive a gullible audience. Being a bit of a detective also comes in handy for the kind-hearted conman.



Dorothy shows no sign of having walked a great distance with her suitcase. It takes little for him to infer that she is running away from home and to make her believe that he arrived at the answer (after two wrong guesses) by supernatural means. She asks if she can travel with him to see the crowned heads of Europe.  He throws her a line of bull about consulting the infinite in his crystal ball before he can give her an answer.


Inside of his wagon, he talks her into closing her eyes so he can open her picnic basket for clues to how to proceed. He gets what he needs from a photo of Dorothy and her Aunt Em.


You don't need a PhD in Psychology to safely deduce that the photo Dorothy packed for her departure from the Gale farm is close to her heart. Photos that people pack to leave home with typically signify a loving relationship.


Putting the photo away and staring into the globe, the professor describes "a woman in a polka dot dress." You know that he is just describing the woman in the photo. Dorothy thinks that he's seeing her in the glass sphere. She identifies the woman as her Aunt Em. The professor guesses correctly that her name is Emily. Reading between the lines, you can safely deduce that he recently passed the Gail's farm from his description of a weather vein in the shape of a running horse, which isn't in the photo. What he says he sees is what matters. It convinces Dorothy to go back home.


Murder in Greenwich

The first big turning point in The Wizard of Oz is when Dorothy runs away from home, stops at a wagon and reads these fascinating words: " PROFESSOR MARVEL.... Acclaimed by the Crowned Heads of Europe.... Let him read your Past, Present and Future in his Crystal ("ball" is represented by a light-colored dot with radiating lines like a cartoon sun or light bulb over the head of someone with a big idea.)  ...Also Juggling and Sleight of Hand." You don't find out that Dorothy packed a photo of her Aunt Em before she left the farm until she's inside the wagon and the man she's with "sees" it "in his crystal ball"

Fuhrman does a little juggling and performs some sleight of hand in his movie to bring in Dorothy, the farm, the packed valuables in the "picnic basket" (a satchel), the wagon, the "crowned heads," the photo of the aunt and two pathways from there to reach an Emily.

Weeks tells Fuhrman that he's made an appointment to speak with Dorothy Moxley. First, though, they have to get settled in Greenwich. He tells Fuhrman, "Our generous publisher has hired us a car to take us to Greenwich." Fuhrman alludes to the acclaim given to his first book by saying, "I think that's incentive for us to write another bestseller." when  The "car" is an old station wagon.

The station wagon is significant relative to Professor Marvel's horse-drawn wagon for several reasons: 1) It is a wagon, which you first see in an exterior shot. 2) Inside, Fuhrman and Weeks are reading about the Moxley murder encompassing distinct references to past, present and future. 3) You see a black and white photo of a woman identified with royalty. She is the Kennedy wife, mother, sister and aunt who was widowed by an assassin's 22 caliber bullet on July 6, 1968.

You need something off kilter that Fuhrman did in his movie to link Tommy Skakel's Aunt Ethel to Robert Jr.'s first wife Emily because one does not naturally flow from the other. You get it in this exchange between Fuhrman and Weeks in the back seat of Steve Carroll's wagon with the two black and white photos shown in that sequence PLACED WHERE THEY APPEARED IN THE DIALOGUE.

Weeks: The Skakel fortune comes from Great Lakes Carbon. They weren't as famous as the Kennedy's but (shows an expression of amazement) ... they were richer -- Nineteen fifty. ETHEL SKAKEL MARRIES ROBERT KENNEDY.

Fuhrman: Ethel's Rushton's sister. Rushton's the father of Tommy Skakel.

Weeks: So, one of our suspects is the nephew of American royalty. That won't hurt the book

Fuhrman: If the Kennedy's weren't involved there wouldn't be a book.

So far, no strained Aunt-Emily link. But before Weeks resumes,  a family photo pops up. It adds nothing to what he says about hearing that Ethel was quoted as saying, "THIS CAN'T TOUCH THE KENNEDYS" or Fuhrman's, "Hearsay" reply that ends the matter.

The "Aunt" in the photo is obviously Ethel Kennedy. Her third child (Robert, Jr., on your far right.) has an Emily in his future; his future wife Emily Black.  But more is needed to get an Emily connection in that family photo to one that we know means a lot to Fuhrman. You get with the year 1951 when Ethel Kennedy's first child Kathleen, shown on your far left, was born. It is the year that the fictional Emily Crain discovers a terrible secret in The House on Carroll Street

This Emily is a fictional McCarthy era character summoned to mind by the name "Carroll," among other things closely related to the photo of Dorothy Gale's Aunt Em in The Wizard of Oz. One of those other things is a black and white photo of her. an other thing is her dark, long-sleeved polka dot dress. Don't mistake the House on Carroll Street for a movie outside of Fuhrman's; it's one of the magic brushes that his movie was painted with.