GOLD MEDAL FILM
Screenplay by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf, from the novel by L. Frank Baum
Produced by Mervyn LeRoy
Starring Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley
Running Time: 101 minutes
Academy Award Winner - Best Original Song ("Over the Rainbow")
Academy Award Nominee - Best Art Direction
Academy Award Nominee - Best Cinematography
Academy Award Nominee - Best Special Effects
Academy Award Nominee - Best Picture
The story is one which I am sure we will all remember for all time. Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) is an orphaned girl who lives on a farm in Kansas with her aunt. But one day, a cyclone arrives and picks up her house, her dog Toto, and drops them into the magical land of Oz. In the land of Oz, things are strange yet they are also beautiful, but Dorothy wishes to go back home. Right there, she is helped by Glinda the Good Witch of the North (Billie Burke), but at the same time she is also in trouble with the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton), who blames Dorothy for the death of her sister, the Wicked Witch of the East, as her house landed on top of her. Right there, Dorothy now must head off to Emerald City where the great wizard lives. Along the way, she meets the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) who needs a brain, the Tin Man (Jack Haley) who is in need of a heart, and the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) who seeks courage. Together, they all seek to find the great and powerful wizard of Oz before the Wicked Witch of the West finds them.
Nowadays, I still remember the very first time I had ever laid my eyes upon the Victor Fleming classic which we have all come to know as The Wizard of Oz. I remember that once I did look at it I simply had just adored it from beginning to end, but I never exactly owned a copy for myself. I would always tune into The Wizard of Oz once I saw that it was playing on television, whatever channel it may be. My love for The Wizard of Oz simply is not so easy to describe right away, and even if it isn't my all-time favourite movie I know for sure that it definitely is a classic not to be forgotten. Even if it was a box office bomb, it still managed to garner a Best Picture nomination, and even though it were obvious Gone with the Wind (also by Victor Fleming) would win the award, it's pretty obvious which is the superior film (although both films are present in my own personal Top 250 at this moment).
Whenever I look back at The Wizard of Oz, I am always left to think of some of the happiest times during my own childhood. There's always a sense of nostalgia which comes back to me whenever I watch films that have played a significant part of my childhood, but I do not let that distract me from giving a more modern day picture of my opinion. For some movies, my opinion has remained the same (e.g. Toy Story, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial). Others, it has not. This is one of those cases in which my opinion has never changed from the first time I had seen it. Right now, I view The Wizard of Oz as one of the best family features ever made. And it's not for nostalgic reasons, which says so much about it right now.
I've always found The Wizard of Oz to be such a beautiful film to look at from beginning to end. The contrast of the scenes which take place in Kansas which are shown in sepia, whereas the true beauty of the land of Oz is instead shown in Technicolor. However, the contrast of these sequences is only part of the reason as to why exactly The Wizard of Oz is truly a magnificent film. The Wizard of Oz already is made so beautiful through the film's own use of Technicolor and if there's something that can already be said about how The Wizard of Oz makes use of Technicolor together with black-and-white (sepia in this case), it just looks rather stunning. Every last moment in The Wizard of Oz is truly nothing short of beautiful.
For its time, the costumes designed for the performers already look rather unique. For all I know, The Wizard of Oz would already have won an Oscar for Best Costume Design if the costumes were recognized by the Academy at the time as a crucial element for the film (they started recognizing films in this category in 1949). I could not possibly have doubted that in any way. Where could the entire film ever look so much more beautiful than just through the beautiful use of Technicolor? That's where the work behind the costumes here can already come to my mind, as I can already imagine that being a particular aspect as to why the film is so unique when you set it among other classics from the time. Right there is where more of the film's own beauty can already come along, and I admire it more and more just as I think about it.
There's also so much wonder being shown by this film through its musical numbers. In particular, Judy Garland's performance of the famous song "Over the Rainbow" is often regarded as one of the greatest songs ever recorded specifically for a film (to which I would very highly agree). The song has been voted as the #1 greatest song in American film, and even earned the film a very well-deserving Academy Award for Best Original Song. Just listening to the song, there's already so much that you can feel for the character of Dorothy Gale right away. Judy Garland's own singing voice already makes it so much more beautiful to listen to in just about every last way that I could ever imagine. Could it ever be so much more beautiful to listen to without this song? I don't believe that could ever be possible.
But it's not only Garland's singing voice that makes The Wizard of Oz so great as I see it. The performance given off by a rather young Judy Garland is quite simply the very best that I could ever expect myself to see from such a wonderful actress I knew she already is. This whole film would never have been the exact same experience if someone else other than Judy Garland were going to be set to play Dorothy Gale. Even if it wouldn't be the kind of performance that would have been given Oscar recognition at the time (I'd already have predicted that Vivien Leigh would be in competition for her role in Gone with the Wind), it's still just one of the many reasons as to why this film is so wonderful as a whole.
Victor Fleming also has a particular distinction of being the only film director to have two films listed in the top ten section of the American Film Institute's 100 Movies list (the 2007 version of the list). Under his own direction, the film is simply just perfect in every way possible. I just simply adore The Wizard of Oz for very many reasons and I can already say that the film would never at all be the same if Fleming weren't the one responsible for directing it. Although he isn't the only director to work on this film (George Cukor and King Vidor also made uncredited contributions to the film), it still seems as if it is mostly his own vision and what he brought us right here is simply just the definition of perfection. Everything about The Wizard of Oz is just so lovely thinking about it. And I keep admiring it more and more as I'm sitting around with this masterpiece in my head.
It's impossible to believe any claim from just about anyone that would be saying they still haven't seen The Wizard of Oz. When I first watched this film I just simply adored it from beginning to end. Nowadays, my own love for the film has never at all faded away one bit. It's definitely one film which will always remain a classic for a very long time, as far as I'm concerned. This masterpiece is one film which most certainly should not be forgotten over time. If I were to define The Wizard of Oz with just one word, it would be "perfection." Because that's what this masterpiece quite simply is, without any doubts.