Thursday, August 14, 2014
Classic Cinema Spotlight: The Wizard of Oz
When you want a little magic just pop in a dvd copy of The Wizard of Oz (1939) and it will deliver in spades. Based on L. Frank Baum's story of Oz which was written in 1900 and had over fourteen books about Oz published afterwards.
1939 was a big year in film and it was also the beginning of World War II. The Wizard of Oz managed to bring the entire world a splash of sparkle and heap of hope. That at the end of the day, there really is no place like home.
Starring Judy Garland (who was just a girl herself) as the lead Dorothy, Frank Morgan as the Wizard, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, Jack Haley as the Tin Man, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Loin, Billie Burke as Glinda the Good Witch of the North, and Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West.
The film begins in Kansas in the early 1900's, where Dorothy Gale lives with her Aunt and Uncle on a farm with her dog Toto. Dorothy runs away from home because Mrs. Glitch wants to have Toto destroyed. She meets a phony fortune teller who tells her that her Aunt is ill and that she should go back home. On her way home a tornado hits the town and sweeps Dorothy and Toto into another land.
One of the magical bits of this film is the sudden change from sepia color to Technicolor to demonstrate Dorothy in her everyday world and Dorothy in the land of Oz. Movie Magic!
While in Oz Dorothy goes on an incredible journey where she makes special friends, crushes evil enemies, and contends with flying monkey's. All the while trying to find her way to the Emerald City and ask the Wizard how she can get back home.
Iconic doesn't even fit the bill with this film. Surprisingly it wasn't a huge success when it first came out in 1939 due to the fierce competition of Gone with the Wind but when it was re-released in 1948, it exploded.
This film is reminder that iconic things do not become iconic overnight. There is usually a process and a lengthy one at that. Many changes happened at the beginning of production from firing directors, changing costumes, and altering hairstyles. Not to mention all the accidents that occurred as well as deciding on whether or not to keep the memorable song "Somewhere over the Rainbow" in the film. Can you imagine this film without it?
Dorothy and her friends; the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man learn invaluable lessons while following the yellow brick road. And Dorothy most of all, that at the end of the day there is no place like home.
Here is some more fantastic tales and tidbits about The Wizard of Oz:
10 Things About The Wizard of Oz
Test Yourself on The Wizard of Oz Trivia
Myth or Truth: Munchikin Suicide
7 Things You Didn't Know About The Wizard of Oz
The Wonderful World of Oz
The Wizard of Oz: Warner Brothers Site
Have you seen The Wizard of Oz? What is your favorite scene of the 1939 film version? What is it that you love (or not love) about this film?