Movie #59: The Wizard of Oz (1939)


Director: Victor Fleming, King Vidor

Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, and Terry as Toto

The Wizard of Oz has always been a film near and dear to my heart as a native Kansan.  A number of small towns have yellow-brick roads going down main street, and it is something that’s synonymous with the state.  This is one of a number of films that I grew up with, and though I’ve seen it many times, I still enjoy it with each viewing.


I was very skeptical when I first heard of Oz: The Great and Powerful, but my wife and I saw it a few weeks ago.  For the most part I was impressed.  I found it stayed faithful to the source material while avoiding the pitfall of being a cheap knock-off of the original.  The only change I would have made was to use someone other than Mila Kunis.  I’ve never cared for her as an actress, and that change is more my personal preference.

Released in 1939, this film uses a tremendous amount of color, and the eye-popping visuals and cinematography create a nice unique fantasy world of Oz.  There’s a nice contrast between the farm scenes in a sepia tone and Oz in full-color.

Judy Garland was 16 when The Wizard of Oz was filmed.  I have a hard time believing this, as she seemed so much older.  Her performance and talent make this film.  Frank Miller is also great in this movie.  He shows some range as the various people who greet Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion in the Emerald City.  The only other movie of his that I’ve seen is Shop Around the Corner, and I was taken aback at first because I’ve come to associate him as The Wizard and nothing else.


The Wizard of Oz embodies a lot of the basic elements of a good film.  It offered a release and escape.  It was released at the tail end of the great depression and the beginning stages of World War 2.  Something like this would have provided a nice escape from everyday struggles and problems and whisk a person away to a fantasy land for a couple of hours.

The Mythbusters tested the effects of silver body paint and how a previous formula may have caused Buddy Ebsen, the original Tin Man, to drop out of the film.  Here is that clip:

The American Film Institute listed The Wizard of Oz as the #6 movie of all time in its first list, and 10th on the 10th anniversary list.  Additionally, “Over the Rainbow” was picked as the #1 song in the list, “100 Years…100 Songs.”  There are so many elements of this film that have integrated into popular culture.  Numerous lines, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” “There’s no place like home.”  “I’ll get you, my pretty and your little dog, too!” – #99  “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” and “I’m melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! What a world!” to name a few.

As stated before, The Wizard of Oz is a film near and dear to me.  I enjoy it in moderation now, but the songs, the story, and the acting never get old.  I look forward to sharing this film with my future generations.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.


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