|THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)|
|"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."|
|Time: 101 mins.|
Won Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Song. Nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Special Effects and Best Picture.
I don't really remember the first time I ever saw this film. What I do recall, quite vividly in fact, is running from the living room whenever the Wicked Witch of the West came onscreen. She was definitely the scariest creature I had ever seen up to that point in my fairly young life. However, I always went back in once she was gone. I had to see what happened to Dorothy...even though after a few viewings I already knew. The power of the Wizard of Oz is its message to everyone, young and old you just have to believe in yourself and you can make your deepest wishes come true. Pretty heady stuff for an MGM musical based in a children's story. It's hard to review a film you saw with the bright eyes and wonder of a child, though I have seen this film at least 15 times since then. Whenever it's on television I just have to watch. I don't know why, but it just mesmerizes me.
I can't imagine anyone else playing the role of Dorothy. Judy Garland was wonderful as this young farmgirl caught between childhood and womanhood. Her voice is extraordinary and she imbues Dorothy with just the right amount of bravado, wonder and homesickness, you can't help but feel bad for her. Of course, everyone has their favorite character and mine was the scarecrow. I loved the way he danced around and tried to protect Dorothy from the Witch. Margaret Hamilton was incredibly scary as the Wicked Witch of the West. She creeps me out to this day. The scenes with the monkeys still make my skin crawl.
This is not to say that this film is perfect. It starts to drag when they get to the Emerald City. The good thing about watching it on television is you can get up and do something else while the boring parts are on. I also find myself annoyed, as an adult, when Glenda the Good Witch tells Dorothy she could have gone home whenever she wanted by clicking her heels and saying "There's no place like home" three times. Hello...information that would've been helpful from the beginning. Could've gone home right away and saved herself the headache and terror of being chased by an older, mean-spirited, green-skinned witch. I know she wasn't ready then, Dorothy needed to appreciate what she had, blah, blah, blah, but if I were her I would've clicked my heels three times and turned Glenda into a newt. As much as I love it, I won't be rushing out to the theater to see the rerelease. The wonder is no longer there for me, new sound and picture or not. However, if you haven't seen this film a million times, I'm sure this will make a wonderful theatrical experience. Of course, you can just wait and catch it on television for the seven-hundreth time. I know I will.