After Ian’s revelation last week that he’d somehow never seen GoodFellas, this week it’s my turn to admit to an astonishing gap in my film knowledge – I’ve never seen The Wizard of Oz. Well, until very recently, that is.
I’ve seen Return to Oz (starring Peter Duncan of Blue Peter fame as the chubby robot Tick-Tock), I’ve seen the musical Wicked (which is terrible) and I’ve seen countless spoofs and homages along the way (I’m fairly sure there was a Muppet Babies episode about The Wizard of Oz at some point), but somehow I’ve never managed to sit down and watch the classic MGM movie.
One interesting thing I found out when researching this film is that it’s not even the first film version of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It’s not even the second. In fact, despite being released back in 1939, the Judy Garland version of The Wizard is actually the fourth version of the book to be translated to celluloid (OK, nitrate if you’re going to get technical), with versions appearing in 1933, 1925 and way back in 1910. What’s remarkable about all of the film versions is just how different they are from each other: in particular, the 1925 version veers off fantastically into a story about princesses, the Tin Man’s betrayal (played by Oliver Hardy, interestingly enough) and a despotic leader of Oz named Kruel, bearing little resemblance at all to the book.
The 1939 version also played fast and loose with the original story, and a particularly notable addition is the insinuation that Dorothy’s adventures in Oz are just a dream, which is perhaps what the film is now most famous for. Was this the first film to depict its events as a dream? Think of all the terrible TV plot lines this film has ‘inspired’. “And you were there, and you were there…”
Still, I really enjoyed the film, and I still can’t believe it’s taken me until the age of 33 to see it. I reckon I would have enjoyed it much more if I’d been a kid though – although god knows what the 7-year-old me would have made of those creepy Munchkins. Brr.
If our review has piqued your interest in the film, you can buy the Wizard of Oz DVD from Amazon by clicking here (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance).
Anyway, without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:
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Director: Victor Fleming Year of release: 1939 Studio/Distributor: MGM Country: USA