1939 - 2014 The 75th Anniversary of a Movie Classic
"What a world, what a world!"
My joint favourite film (with Melody), The Wizard of Oz has been with me most of my life, since I was about 7 years old. Watched many times, it loses nothing with each viewing.
I first saw the film at school back in 1973: we were all given the chance to watch the film for 10p. Watching film I'd never heard of or have lessons instead? No difficulty choosing the answer to that one.
Hadn't heard of the film at that point? Nope, hadn't a clue. I had no idea what it was about either and I never even questioned what the title meant. I just knew that I'd get a couple of hours away from sums to watch it.
"Ma, can I have 5p to watch a film at school please?"
"It's called 'The Wizard of Oz."
We all sat in the school hall, the film began, it was in black and white which didn't matter to me, we only had a black and white TV at home anyway. Girl with dog, fallen foul of a woman who is a dog hater. Three farmhands, an uncle and aunt, what's going to happen to the dog? Oh, a song, very nice. Wonder what this film's really about? Oh no here's the woman who hates dogs. Who could hate Toto? She's going to take him away? Oooh, what a nasty woman.
Dog escapes, hurray! and returns to Dorothy. Quick Dorothy, get away from the farm and that nasty woman. Auntie Em's a bossy woman as well, she doesn't even listen to you or make time for you. Huh! Your uncle and aunt should have stood up to that nasty Miss Gulch and why didn't they? Even kind uncle Henry didn't do a thing. Ah, here's a nice man, a fake mystic but he's looking out for Dorothy so he can't be a bad guy. Just get away from that evil woman. Uh oh, Dorothy's going back home but what will happen to Toto?
Oh my, a tornado (or is it a twister?) Quick, get under cover Dorothy! Oh no, they've shut her out of the cellar! Poor Dorothy! What about Toto? I hope he doesn't get hurt!
Get in the house, get in the house! She must be safe now! OUCH! THE WINDOW! That looked like it really hurt! She's not dead though. Ah, she's waking up. Wow, she's inside the cyclone (or is it a tornado? Or a twister?) Oh look at that! A cow! People in a boat! All inside the cyclonetwistertornado!
There's that dog hater! Ha! Hope she...what the?! What the...what?! She's turned into a witch! Is Dorothy dreaming?! Ooh, the house has landed, Dorothy and Toto look okay, phew! But what about Uncle Henry and Auntie Em? Are they all right? And those farmhands, hope they're okay too. Quick, look for them Dorothy!
Open the door and fi..what the?! What the?! What?! Colour! Beautiful colour! Wow! What's going on? What's that she's walked out into??? What is this film abo...ah, wait a minute...
That sums up my thoughts as I watched those first 15 minutes, it was an amazing experience! The rest of the film surprised, entertained, enthralled and enraptured me. It made me a fan for life and like many people I've watched it countless times since.
I saw the film again within a year when I saw it at the cinema with my brother and sister in a double bill with 'Tom Thumb' and I loved it just as much. The first time it appeared on BBC1 on Christmas Day all my family watched it. I watched it every time it was shown for years.
I got the first video cassette release, I bought the special edition video, I bought books, I bought CDs, I bought the first DVD, I bought the 3-disk version, there's another version coming out 2009. Yesssss!
"The most protected film in history" says a quote from "Prettier Than Ever, The Restoration of Oz", one of the featurettes on the 3-disk DVD version. Everybody seems to love this movie, those in the business of making films, those in the business of watching films. It's an all-time timeless classic and it will endure with immortality just as its stars will enjoy immortality through it.
There's a plethora of information on the film in book form, articles and internet websites. The only thing I ever learnt about the film that made me go "Oh no" was when I learnt that Buddy Ebsen had been hired to be the Tin Man before Jack Haley took over and had been involved with the production of the film in its earliest days. Jack Haley had been a fantastic Tin Man in the film I had seen so many times, in fact I'd felt that the film had been entirely perfectly cast, until I had learnt of Buddy Ebsen.
One of my all-time favourite actors, (fantastic in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' among many fine roles), when I saw the photos of Buddy as Tin Man, when I heard his version of "If I Only Had A Heart", I thought "Wow!" and I've never been able to watch Jack Haley again without thinking "If only Buddy hadn't been replaced! Only he would have been better than you." Which kinda mars my viewing of the film now, I miss Buddy Ebsen and he's not even in it!!!! I always think how good Buddy would have been as the Tin Man.
It is as perfect a film as one can get though, it's star Judy Garland is beyond my capacity to praise her adequately, she simply is one of the best entertainers this world will ever see.
Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke & Terry/Toto are simply brilliant, & in the case of Frank Morgan, I am so glad W. C. Fields did not get to play the role of the Wizard, Frank Morgan's performance could not be bettered.
Margaret Hamilton: magnificent. Playing the Best witch ever, this charismatic actress is and always going to stick in the minds of all who watch this film.
I'm glad I first saw the film at a time when I had never heard of it, I'm glad it kept me watching with wonder as I watched it. It is my fervent hope that other people get to find to find this film with as little knowledge as I had but with the wealth of information out there, with the wealth of people who already know the film inside out, it is unlikely.
Still, if you're one of those people who've yet to see the film (not likely), it's a film that will charm, amaze and satisfy you.
And your little dog too!
Tim Harris (Wednesday 4th June 2014)
First posted Sunday 8th March 2009
(Re-posted 17th May 2014) (Re-edited 4th June 2014)
|Above: Two of the many film posters relating to the film.|
|Above: The film made the pages of many magazine articles.|
|Above: another poster and a publicity photograph.|
|Above: Publicity photographs taken for the film.|
|Above: The immortal and incomparable Judy Garland.|
|Above: Ray Bolger, Jack Haley and Bert Lahr.|
|Above: Bert Lahr and Frank Morgan.|
|Above: Judy Garland as a frightened Dorothy.|
Buy The Film on DVD -
Support The Releases
This fantastic film is currently available in several editions.
The single disk does not have all the special features of the others but does have hours of extras.
The 3-disk version has the same disks 1 and 2 as that of the 2-disk version.
The people who have worked hard to preserve and produce these fantastic releases shall forever have my gratitude.
|Above: The latest release, in 3D. Excellent! Buy, buy, buy!|
|Single disk edition||Three-disc collector's edition||Two-disc special edition|
|Extras as they appear in the 3-disk DVD version, with running times.|
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook (10 mins, 28 secs)
Prettier Than Ever: The Restoration of Oz (11 mins, 27 secs)
We Haven't Really Met Properly...(Profiles of the supporting cast) (21 mins, 25 secs)
Commentary by historian John Fricke
Optional music-and-effects-only or original mono tracks
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic (narrated by Angela Lansbury). (50 mins, 54 secs)
Memories of Oz (supporting actors' memories) (27 mins, 38 secs)
The Art of Imagination: A Tribute to Oz (29 mins, 46 secs)
Because of the Wonderful Things It Does: The Legacy of Oz (25 mins, 05 secs)
Harold Arlen's Home Movies (4 mins, 39 secs)
Outtakes and Deleted Scenes (14 mins, 20 secs)
It's A Twister! It's A Twister! (The tornado tests) (8 mins, 7 secs)
Off To See The Wizard (8 animated clips from a 1967 anthology series) (3 mins, 57 secs)
From The Vault (3 short films containing contemporary Oz-related material):
Another Romance of Celluloid: Electrical Power (10 mins, 30 secs)
Academy Aawrds Clip: Judy Garland accepts award (2 mins, 14 secs)
Texas Contest Winners: 1938 clip with Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr & Buddy Ebsen (1 min, 25 secs)
Audio Vault (unedited musical numbers and other studio recordings) (4 hrs, 47 mins, 8 secs)
Leo Is On The Air (1939 Oz-related radio preview show with audio clips from the film) (12 mins, 13 secs)
Good News of 1939 Radio Show (1939 Oz-related edition with Judy Garland, Ray Bolger & Bert Lahr) (1hr, 56 secs approx.)
Lux Radio Theatre (Judy Garland reprises the role of Dorothy in this Oz-related edition). Broadcast 25th December 1950. (1 hr, 46 secs)
Stills Gallery (1 hr, 18 secs in total: individual timings are below)
Stills Gallery: Oz on Broadway (2 mins, 16 secs)
Stills Gallery: Pre-MGM (2 mins, 16 secs)
Stills Gallery: Sketches and Storyboards (1 min, 52 secs)
Stills Gallery: Costume and Makeup Tests (7 mins, 4 secs)
Stills Gallery: Richard Thorpe's Oz (4 mins, 16 secs)
Stills Gallery: Buddy Ebsen (1min, 4 secs)
Stills Gallery: Oz Comes To Life (12 mins, 8 secs)
Stills Gallery: Behind The Scenes (56 secs)
Stills Gallery: Portraits (9 mins, 44 secs)
Stills Gallery: Special Effects (3 mins 44 secs)
Stills Gallery: Post Production (1 min, 20 secs)
Stills Gallery: Deleted Scenes (2 mins, 24 secs)
Stills Gallery: Original Publicity (4 mins, 16 secs)
Stills Gallery: 8/15/1939 Hollywood Premiere (1 min 28 secs)
Stills Gallery: 8/17/1939 New York Premiere (1 min 52 secs)
Stills Gallery: 2/29/40 Academy Awards Ceremony (1 min 12 secs)
Stills Gallery: Oz Abroad (1 min, 28 secs)
Stills Gallery: Oz Revivals (58 secs)
Theatrical Trailer Gallery (11 mins, 22 secs in total: individual timings are below )
1939 What Is Oz? Teaser (32 secs)
1940 Loews Cairo Theater Trailer (1 min, 58 secs)
1949 Reissue Trailer (2 mins, 50 secs)
1949 Grownup Trailer (2 mins, 21 secs)
1970 MGM Children's Matinee Reissue Trailer (1 min 35 secs)
1998 Warner Bros. Reissue Trailer (2 mins 5 secs)
L. Frank Baum, The Man Behind The Curtain (documentary) (27 mins, 45 secs)
B/W Silent Movies: The Wizard of Oz (1910) (13 mins, 18 secs)
The Magic Cloak of Oz (1914) (38 mins, 29 secs)
His Majesty The Scarecrow of Oz (1914) (59 mins, 7 secs)
The Wizard of Oz (1925) (Restored silent version with Oliver Hardy, and a new score by Robert Israel) (1 hr, 11 mins, 52 secs)
Blu-ray Edition released during 2009.
Celebrate 70 years of this timeless film.
Support the releases.
|The Wizard of Oz is
© 1939. The DVDs are
© Turner Entertainment Co. and
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
The original film was made and released by MGM Studios. No attempt is made to supersede, or breach, any copyright as held by the legal copyright holders of The Wizard of Oz, the greatest movie of all-time. Support the releases. Buy and enjoy.
|Comicbook Adaptations||In 1975 Marvel Comics and DC Comics teamed up to present an adaptation of the movie classic. It took me until the late 1980s to get hold of a copy and it is pretty good. The adaptation of the second book, The Marvelous Land of Oz was not so good. Mind you, I don't particularly rate the book it was based on very highly either. Other books were adapted later by another publisher. but I didn't take to these either and they no longer form part of my collection.|
My three favourite Oz books.
|The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
By L. Frank Baum
The original book upon which everything else has spun off, responsible for a vast wealth of merchandise as well as the film. Whilst I prefer the film to the book it is still one of the best books to ever see print. Very imaginative, full of charm. I never rated the sequel books.
|The Wizard of Oz: The Official
50th Anniversary Pictorial History
By John Fricke, Jay Scarfone and William Stillman
This is a fantastic book with many photographs covering a wide range of subjects. A number of these photographs appear in the photographic galleries of the DVD releases.
The Making of The Wizard of Oz
By Aljean Harmetz
This book is mostly text and is a fascinating account of how the film got made. I've read this few times and it covers its subject more than justly.
From beginning to end, the full story of the making of a masterpiece.
|The Wizard of Oz is
© 1939. The DVDs are
© Turner Entertainment Co. and
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
The original film was made and released by MGM Studios. No attempt is made to supersede, or breach, any copyright as held by the legal copyright holders of 'The Wizard of Oz', the greatest movie of all-time. Support the releases. Buy and enjoy.