Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM),

Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin, Clara Blandick

Dorothy (Judy Garland) lives on a small farm in Kansas, but longs for a better world over the rainbow. When a tornado tears the house away with Dorothy inside, it lands on top of the Wicked Witch of the East, killing her. Dorothy finds out she is now in the land of Oz, and the only way back home is to travel to Emerald City to find the Wizard (Frank Morgan) to help her. On her journey, she finds new friends who join her on her quest to find her way back home.

I was lucky enough t be a child of the 50’s when Color TV’s were new, and the Wizard of Oz make a huge resurgence on a Sunday Night every year. My family could not afford a color set, but my Grandfather had one, and so we would visit her every time it was on TV along with all my Aunt and Uncles, and all my cousins. I was enthralled at the announcement repeated over and over that the beginning of the movie would be in Black and White, but when Dorothy arrives in OZ it would switch to beautiful color. This is because people would certainly think there was something wrong with their TV and keep banging on it to fix it. We used to do things like that. Fathom Events setup a two night special event which was so popular, another two nights were added. When I heard of the chance to see The Wizard of Oz on a big screen, something I had never done, I just couldn’t pass this up. First off, we were assured that the film was being shown in the original aspect ration, which was very small and only used a little of the center of the screen. 1939 was long before movies were made in the widescreen format that we’re used to today. My daughter went with me, and we were really anxious as the movie started. Everyone know this movie, which was really ahead of it’s time, but was sadly overshadowed (rightfully so I guess) by Gone With the Wind which was released the same year. Still this is a really wonderful film. A lot of the interesting facts about the movie are unknown to a lot of people, and some of them I found really fascinating. First of all, only the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) was the original actor who was cast for his role. Dorothy was supposed to be played by Shirley Temple, but her studio refused to let her do it at the last moment, and Judy Garland was quickly cast. Judy was 16 at the time, and a bit old for Dorothy so they did all the could to make her more of a little child, and she did a wonderful job. Jack Haley (The Tin Man) was cast as the Scarecrow (and he would have been wonderful in that role) and Buddy Ebsen (Jed clampett) was cast as the Tin Man. But he had a severe allergic reaction to the aluminum makeup, and ended up in the hospital in critical condition. But being a giant movie studio in 1939, he wasn’t told that Buddy almost died, and all he know was that he was fired. So Jack Haley moved over to the Tin Man, and Ray Bolger was quickly hired as the Scarecrow. Shirley Temple was immediately put into a “blockbuster” technicolor film “The Blue Bird” which was expected to blow The Wizard of Oz out of the water, but was pretty much a flop while The Wizard became a huge part of American culture, and even affected our language. Phrases like “I don’t think we’re in Kansan anymore” and “There’s no place like home” are among the many phrases from this movie to take a role in our language. Seeing this film again in the theater with a theater sound system was an experience I will never forget. The only surprise though was in talking to everyone I meet about this experience, how many people have never seen this movie at all. Now that is a shame!

EdG – EdsReview Dot Com – A Movie Review Blog



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