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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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  • Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Buddy Ebsen in 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

Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Coroner of Munchkinland, was at one time the shortest licensed pilot in the U.S. During WWII he volunteered for military service, but was turned down. He was accepted as a volunteer instructor in the Civil Air Patrol.


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

When the Wicked Witch first appears in Munckinland, Glinda's wand constantly changes positions as she stands behind Dorothy.


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

All prints shown/made from 1949 to 1988 have the Kansas scenes in black and white, not the original sepia tones. The 1989 50th anniversary video cassette restores the sepia color of the Kansas scenes. All theatrical re-releases, TV airings, and video releases since then have the scenes in the sepia tones.


Soundtracks

If I Only Had a Brain
(1939) (uncredited)
Lyrics by
E.Y. Harburg
Music by Harold Arlen
Sung by Ray Bolger and Judy Garland

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Adventure | Family | Fantasy | Musical

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