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Children, Drama - Historic, Drama - Musical, Fantasy

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Duration1h 42m
RatingsUK: A, USA: 
Source of storyA 1901 book of the same name by L. Frank Baum
DirectorVictor Fleming, George Cukor, Mevyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog, Richard Thorpe, King Vidor
Writers/ScriptNoel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allen Woolf,  plus 15 other contributors.
StarringJudy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Margaret Hamilton, 
RatingsIMDb: 8.0 by 372,868 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 96% .

Elevator Pitch: Dorothy is a girl living with her uncle and aunt and dog , Toto, on the Kansas plain. One day a visitor, Miss Gulch is bitten by Toto so she get a warrant to have the unfortunate canine euthanized. To save the dog she runs away, but not very far. However a tornado results in her being hit by a window frame. This is the preamble. Thereafter the house is spun through the air and lands in Munchkinland on top of the Wicked Witch of the East so Dorothy gains the gratitude of the Munchkins, and starts off to find the wizard so that she can get home. On the way she collects a scarecrow, a tin man and a lion, all of whom want something from the wizard. How will they get on?

Content: No sex, nudity, risqué language, smoking, drugs or drinking of alcohol. Actually a succession of set pieces, the tornado in Kansas, the arrival at Munckinland with a lot of singing, dancing about parading and so on. Some appearances of the Wicked Witch of the West in unpleasant looking red smoke, interventions from the  tinkle good fairy. The trek on the yellow brick road, finally with the four characters, conflict in the witch’s castle with flying monkeys and then the climax in the wizard’s castle.

A View: My wife and I watched this more out of interest than enthusiasm. Even now, a day after, I am still thinking about it and wondering why it remains so popular. It won best picture at the 1940 Oscars and won many other awards, but honestly a pretty thin plot and lamentable dialogue, apparently the original novel was toned down so that young people would not be scared. But we did like Toto the dog, who never seemed to miss an opportunity to grab the limelight. So film buffs might want to see it to find out what the fuss was about, and if you do find out, let me know.

Additional Info: There seemed to be thoughtless use of chemicals for the actors make-up and special effects. Typically flaked asbestos was used for snow.  

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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