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.
In this charming film based on the popular L. Frank Baum stories, Dorothy and her dog Toto are caught in a tornado's path and somehow end up in the land of Oz. Here she meets some memorable friends and foes in her journey to meet the Wizard of Oz who everyone says can help her return home and possibly grant her new friends their goals of a brain, heart and courage.Written by
Despite the fact she played an adversary to Judy Garland's Dorothy, Margaret Hamilton and Garland got along well on set. Garland showed off a dress to Hamilton that Garland was going to wear on stage for her graduation. However, Louis B. Mayer sent Garland on a tour with Mickey Rooney and Garland never got a chance to wear her dress on stage with her classmates. Hamilton was so angry she called Mayer and yelled at him. See more »
When Toto reveals the Wizard by pulling the curtain aside, he doesn't use his mouth; the curtain is tied to the dog. Dorothy can even be seen later removing the rope. See more »
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.
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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). See more »
In 2004 and 2005 Warner Bros. restored the film using their digital Ultra Resolution technique for the film's 2005 re-release on DVD. This corrected the issues regarding the three Technicolor strips becoming misaligned during the 1998 restoration and also presented the film in its best quality to date. See more »
Where to begin? MGM's elaborate adaptation of L. Frank Baum's 1900 fantasy classic THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ not only became an institution among itself (and practically defined the concept of modern popular culture), but is reported to be the most viewed film ever made. A sharp screenplay effectively condenses the novel's text into a workable film, and director Victor Fleming (along with countless other behind-the-scenes technicians) craft a visually stimulating fantasy world that surpasses the expectations of even the most imaginative viewers. Brimming with stunning visual effects (the film's fierce tornado is an FX feat that has yet to be surpassed by CGI), witty dialogue, and eye-popping Technicolor, THE WIZARD OF OZ truly lives up to it's reputation as a once-in-a-lifetime film where every element comes together flawlessly.
The cast could not be improved upon. The quivery-voiced, solemn-faced Judy Garland will always be Dorothy, the little lost farm girl on the road to Oz, clutching her beloved Toto (impressively portrayed himself by the female canine performer Terry, the terrier). It seems inconceivable that MGM had originally wished to cast Shirley Temple in the role, as Temple's doe-eyed, cutesy-voiced shtick would have been a catastrophic ill-fit for the tone of this picture. Conversely, Garland is perhaps the screen's quintessential woman/child; always seemingly just one step away from reaching full emotional maturity. It is her sadness that transfixes viewers to the screen, the exact same quality that made the film's most memorable Harold Arlen/E. Y. Harburg number "Over the Rainbow" into one of the most exquisite marriages between artist and song ever to be recorded.
The remainder of the cast is similarly exceptional, many of whom perform perfectly even under the most debilitating make-up and costumes. Frank Morgan is marvelously versatile in no less than five roles, the insanely energetic Bert Lahr mugs brilliantly, the handsome Jack Haley swoons sweetly, Billie Burke lends the film an ornate ethereality, and Ray Bolger's gravity-defying physical presence nearly steals the entire picture on several occasions. Perhaps most notable is former schoolteacher Margaret Hamilton's transformation into the wickedest of wicked witches, which certainly remains among the vilest and most terrifying portrayals of full-throttle evil ever to be seen. No matter how it is analyzed, scrutinized, or satirized, the 1939 production of THE WIZARD OF OZ is a top-notch example of how to turn a great story into a fabulous, milestone of a film.
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