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The Wizard of Oz (1939)

PG   |    |  Adventure, Family, Fantasy


The Wizard of Oz (1939) Poster

Dorothy Gale is swept away from a farm in Kansas to a magical land of Oz in a tornado and embarks on a quest with her new friends to see the Wizard who can help her return home to Kansas and help her friends as well.

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  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Judy Garland and Jack Haley in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Jack Haley in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Charles Becker at an event for The Wizard of Oz (1939)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


12 November 2004 | rzajac
a milestone
People talk about The Wizard of Oz as a backdrop to their lives; and how true that is. I just saw it again, DVD, for the first time in--gosh!--20 years. There was a little art house in Lansing Michigan USA that ran it back then, on the popular premise that there's nothing like TWoO on "the big screen." That's the last time I'd seen it, 'til today.

I guess the part that "gets" me about the movie is how the writers made it pretty plain that the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion really already had what they thought they were missing; that their respective problems were in misapprehending their own complete natures. That's a powerful statement for many of us. I found myself most touched in scenes where the Scarecrow was showing wisdom, the Tin Man feeling deeply ("...when I think of Dorothy in that awful place..."), and the Lion...well, maybe accomplishing this effect was harder in his case...what *is* true courage?

Anyway, if you're reading this here, you must be a movie weenie, and you've no doubt already seen the movie, so I'm not going to recite the usual "go see this movie" mantra.

I was just very touching to see this movie again, at this phase in my life.

I will mention a few more things about how I now see this movie as a "growed up" (I'm almost 50): It's interesting how you can see the production values of the time; the lot sets and special effects and so forth. This movie is a powerful example of how a good story overcomes limited means in other areas.

People who look back with disdain on the low-tech chintz of old movies can see in TWoO the magic ingredient; narrative solidity. And I'm not a pollyanna about this: I'm sure the underlying reality behind its making is rife with horror stories of expert disagreement, rewrites, discarding, jerryrigging, and the rest of it. But in the end, something like narrative love won out; and that's the important thing.

Oh: And having Harold Arlen write the music was good luck indeed. And orchestrations which cleverly appropriated very tasty new ideas in composition (polymodalism, non-standard phrasings, etc.) didn't hurt, either!

Geez, this movie is such a little universe....I'd better stop here.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's running time was originally 120 minutes. Producer Mervyn LeRoy realized that at least 20 minutes needed to be deleted to get it down to a manageable running time. Three sneak previews aided in his decision of what to cut. The original film in its entirety was only seen once by an audience in either San Bernardino or Santa Barbara, and it was the only time the famed Jitterbug number was seen by the public. After this preview LeRoy cut the aforementioned Jitterbug number and the Scarecrow's extended dance sequence to "If I Only Had a Brain." A second preview was held in Pomona, where the film ran 112 minutes. After the preview LeRoy cut Dorothy's "Over The Rainbow" reprise, a scene in which the Tin Man turned into a human beehive, and the Emerald City reprise of "Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead," as well as a few smaller scenes and dialog, notably two Kansas scenes in which the Hickory character was building a machine to ward off tornadoes, as well as dozens of threatening lines by the Wicked Witch of the West. By the third preview, held in San Luis Obispo, the film finally was down to its 101-minute running time, where it has remained ever since.


Quotes

Dorothy: She isn't coming yet, Toto. Did she hurt you? She tried to, didn't she? Come on. We'll go tell Uncle Henry and Auntie Em.


Goofs

There is no stage hand on set at the end of the Tinman sequence, nor was anyone hanged, nor did they fall out of a tree. The shadowy figure at the back of the set as Dorothy, Scarecrow and Tinman set off down the Yellow Brick Road is a large bird stretching its wings.


Crazy Credits

The credits say "Photographed in Technicolor", not "Color Sequences by Technicolor", thus making it seem as if the entire film were made in color. It is not known if this was deliberately done to enhance the surprise when the picture turns into full three-strip Technicolor, but it is quite possible. Posters at the time also advertised the film as being in Technicolor, but made no mention of sepia tint or black-and-white. The advertisement for the film's first telecast, however, did say "in color and black-and-white" (the Kansas sequences were shown on TV in black-and-white, not sepia, until the 1990 telecast, when they were restored).


Alternate Versions

For the 1998 re-release, Warner Bros. handled the distribution of the film for Turner Entertainment Co. As a result, the re-release prints started with Warner's 75th Anniversary logo. The prints also ended with a short set of restoration and sound remixing credits.


Soundtracks

Optimistic Voices
(1939) (uncredited)
Lyrics by
E.Y. Harburg
Music by Harold Arlen
Performed by the offscreen voices of The Debutantes with The Rhythmettes

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Adventure | Family | Fantasy | Musical

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