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Film review-The Wizard of Oz 1939

By Edited Jun 11, 2015 1 2

The Cast of the Wizard of Oz includes:- Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Jack Hamilton and Frank Morgan.
The Director was:- Victor Fleming
It is a certificate U
The running time is:- 103 minutes.

In adulthood this film became one of my all time, favourite films, quite a few years ago. I think I watched it so much, that, I became overdosed on it, but for any new viewers, it is a brilliant and timeless piece, of fun and fantasy.

When I was about 4 or 5 years old, my Mum took my Brother and I to see the Wizard of OZ, at our local cinema. Being a nervous child I only made it to the tin-man's first appearance, before I had to be taken home, in tears.

Children today are generally made of much hardier stuff, although I still think there are a fair few parts of this film, which may worry really young children. I shall mention these later on. Anyway, I never saw the film again until I was at least in my twenties, for some reason.

At this time, I would re-watch it constantly, as I loved the music, the sentiment and the whole thing. For such an early film, it is really well done. It does have a theatrical feel, almost pantomime, which is very appropriate.

So on to the film.

The film was based on the story written in 1900 by Frank Baum. There were other film versions of the Wizard of Oz, but this 1939 film is the most well-known and loved. When it was first released it won three Academy awards.

The female lead of Dorothy was played, very successfully, by Judy Garland who, at sixteen, was a little old for the role. I read years ago that, her adult figure needed a bit of binding to hide her breasts, and she was made up to try and look younger. She certainly made a very pretty Dorothy, and in her youth had the voice of an angel.

The film starts in grainey black and white. Dorothy, after a complaint about Toto, her little dog , decides to run away from home She takes Toto with her. After meeting a stranger, she heads back home, only to get caught up in a storm. When she wakes from an injury, apparently, she is in another world completely.

Off to see the wizard
Here the film also turns to vivid colour.

I understand that the film on release in recent years had been digitally remastered, so the black and white and the colour will probably be much better. However, the old film seemed very atmospheric and authentic, with the old colouring, even though it was a bit faded in parts.

The film slips back into black and white eventually, as Dorothy returns home. I don't think I have said anything to spoil the plot and film, and there can't be many adults who have not come across the story, even if only at pantomime.

This film is full of great characters such as:-

The Tin Man, the Straw Man and the Lion, who all accompany Dorothy on her journey. These are the main stars of the film along with Toto the dog. Much of the comedy comes from this trio.

The tiny occupants of Oz , the Munchkins, little people with quirky voices.

The horse of another colour, a clever twist from the saying

Glinda the good witch.

The Ruler of Oz and the travelling showman, who are played by the same actor.

The Emerald City.

On the scary and nasty side we have:-

That wicked old witch
The wicked witch of the west, or is it east, and the schoolteacher, Miss Gulch, both played by the same actress. There are a few different characters that are played by the same actor, like this. One character in Kansas and the other in Oz.

The flying monkeys and the guards at the wicked witches castle. These were really well done, in their day, and still stand up very well. Truly the stuff of children's nightmares.

The Straw-man getting set on fire, more than once, almost.

These are by no means all. There are even some good special effects, such as at the beginning with the storm. Exceptional for their day.

The setting of Kansas, Dorothy's home, and the extreme difference in the land of Oz, is good, but is made so much better by the colour changes. The scenery, such as when Dorothy leaves the woods and sees the Emerald city in the distance, are magical.

In conclusion

This film is full of great songs, such as Somewhere over the Rainbow, We're off to see the Wizard and Follow the Yellow Brick Road. You will find yourself singing along to so many songs which you have heard before

The plot, though simple, seems to have a child's vivid imagination thrown in, for good measure. The stuff of dreams or nightmares. The journey which the film, and the characters, follow is one of searching for what they need, and finding that they had the necessary all along.

And of course the discovery that there really is No Place Like Home.

Those red shoes
Go on, just click your heels together, and you're there.



Jan 17, 2010 9:06am
It was a really good show. like you say there are a lot of movies made for kids yet the kids get really scared watching them so why do the producers make dfilms like that.
Jan 17, 2010 9:58am
Perhaps for big kids like me lol. I love it now I am grown.
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