THE LATE LATE REVIEW: THE WIZARD OF OZ

Release Date: August 1939

Awards: Nominated for Best Picture, Best Art Direction and Best Effects, Special Effects at the 1940 Academy Awards and won Best Music, Original Score and Best Music, Original Song (Somewhere Over The Rainbow). This also saw Judy Garland earn the Academy Juvenile Award for her outstanding performance as a screen juvenile in The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms.

Rating: 98% “Certified Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.

Yes. I know.

The Wizard of Oz this week celebrated 80 years since its 15th of August 1939 premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. This planet is one I’ve never known without The Wizard of Oz, and yet somehow, I’ve not seen it.

Everybody knows what happens; a sweet farm girl and her dog get caught up in a twister, land in a strange land, kill two sisters and expose a president-figure as a giant fraud.  

I mean that’s slightly reductive, given the enduring appeal of a movie which was released about two weeks before the start of World War II. The film actually has a very warm heart, where a young girl and her friends learn that they already have everything that they were looking for.

Judy Garland is, of course, the quintessential Hollywood starlet and is perfectly cast as the naïve young girl who is just trying to get home. She’s supported by Ray Bolger, Jack Haley and Bert Lahr as the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, with Margaret Hamilton and Billie Burke as Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda (who honestly probably spends her time in her little bubble taking mind altering drugs). Oh and Terry, who plays Toto and must be the most patient dog in movie history.

Given that this movie was made in a time with very limited special effects (Glinda’s bubble and the Wizard’s face are two of the only effects I spotted which weren’t physical effects) the sets are especially clever, using forced perspective to make them look much more vast. There’s a certain stage-like quality to the production and acting which makes it all the more sweet.

I’m fairly certain that I must be one of the only people who has managed to live life without seeing the film the whole way through. If I’m wrong and you haven’t seen it either, get on and watch it. It’s a cinematic classic for a reason.

Is there an iconic film or album you think I should have experienced by now? Let me know @MoveToTRASHUK #latelatereview

Photograph: MGM

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