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THE WIZARD OF OZ

Because of a tornado, 12 year old Dorothy, along her beloved dog and farm house as well, finds herself in the fantastic Land of Oz, over the rainbow far from her Kansas farm, about to encounter adventure, a wicked witch, and dear friends that help her on her quest to find a way home.

The cast includes: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin, and the Munchkins.

Based on novel by L. Frank Baum.

Directed by: Victor Fleming.

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In 1939 THE WIZARD OF OZ was nominated for the Best Picture award.

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The Wizard of Oz has been described by Leonard Maltlin as "a four star genuine American classic." It is truly "one of the world's most beloved films." It is the greatest family entertainment movie, that is unaffected by the passage of time, due to it's absolutely fabulous music, script, direction, cast from heaven, and imaginative set design. The entire package presents a "magical, musical, memorable" movie, a truly remarkable effort, that grips you, draws you into the adventure. It is so well put together, it's 1 hour, 42 minutes just flows at a great pace, offering something for everyone in the family.

Musical numbers ease into the plot naturally, and bring vitality to the whole. Besides the famous Over the Rainbow song, Ding Dong The Witch is Dead, and Follow the Yellow Brick Road production numbers with the Munchkins are great.

Another refreshing plus is that the background music never upstages the performers, but works with their performances, helping to tell the story. For example, check out Miss Gulch's bicycle music! Unlike many musicals, the main theme music wasn't over used, showing the creativity of the musical score.

The beginning of the story, filmed in black and white, finds Dorothy (Judy Garland), at home on her Kansas farm with her Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, and the three farm hands. Miss Gulch (Margaret Hamilton), a real mean, vindictive sour puss, arrives with a court order for Toto, Dorothy's dog who supposedly bit her. The dog jumps out of the basket on the back of Miss Gulch's bike, and escapes back to Dorothy, who decides to run away with Toto. She meets a fortune teller, Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan), who looks into his crystal ball, and tells her that Aunt Em is crying, and may be sick, which inspires Dorothy to go back. The tornado is almost upon her farm when she arrives back home, and since she can't get into the closed storm shelter, she goes back into her room, where she is knocked unconscious by her crashing window. She awakens to find herself and the house up in the tornado. Suddenly, Miss Gulch comes pedaling by her window on her bike, and turns into a witch riding a broomstick, delightfully cackling. The house lands with a bump. Slowly, Dorothy and Toto open the door and enter the beautiful land of Oz, where her great adventure begins. The movie after this point is filmed in color.

The casting for this movie couldn't of been any better. The main character parts were often considered the part that made the actors/actresses famous or remembered for.

The talented, 16 year old Judy Garland did an excellent job in her role as Dorothy, which made her a big star. She got the role, when Shirley Temple wasn't able to be borrowed from another studio. Judy really carries the movie, and does a great job, not only show casing her marvelous voice, but working well in an ensemble effort as an actress.. Her screen chemistry with the others is terrific.

Margaret Hamilton, who loved kids all her life, is terrific as the old battle ax, Miss Gulch, and excelled as the wicked, dastardly witch that gives Dorothy, the scarecrow, the lion, and the tin man so much trouble, as she pursues Dorothy for her dead sister's ruby slippers. (Dorothy's farmhouse landed on the sister.) Seeing the film on DVD, the wickedness really shines in her eyes. Years after the movie was made, kids would recognize her, and ask why she was so mean to Dorothy. She has many memorable lines, such as: "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too." "These things must be done delicately, or the spell will be broken." And, of course, "I'm melting, I'm melting! What a world, what a world! How could a good little girl like you destroy my perfect wickedness!"

Wizard of Oz marked the start of Judy Garland's stardom, really opening the door for her. The chemistry between her and the other actors really brought the script alive. She does a great job, not only in the singing department, but in the acting field as well.

On her way to find the great Wizard of Oz, Dorothy finds new friends, a scarecrow who wants a brain, a tin man who wants a heart, and a cowardly lion who wants some courage. Each sings a song, telling of their problem, and does an amusing dance. Their love and concern for each other helps them to work together to face scary tasks, such as rescuing Dorothy from the witches castle, and defeating the witch in the end.

Ray Bolger plays the scarecrow, who has a great song and dance number, when Dorothy and the scarecrow meet for the first time. He does a great job showing development of his character, as he learns to think to solve problems, to come up with plans, and to even act quickly as their adventure continues.

Jack Haley was picked to play the tin man, and also gave an entertaining performance, and was a great sport to put up with all the make up. His heart grows as the story unfolds.

Bert Lahr - who was known as being funny and funny looking, specialized in broad clowning, making him perfect choice for the cowardly lion. He has the audience laughing, as he portrays what a cowardly lion would be like.

Frank Morgan, a talented character actor, not only plays Professor Marvel, but four other small parts, including the Wizard himself.

To many, Billie Burke will always be the ideal in good witches, as she shines in her part of Glenda, the Good Witch of the North, who foils on a couple occasions the plans of the Wicked Witch of the West Her part may be small, but she shines on the screen, making it memorable, and comforting to know she can help Dorothy if she needs it.

For its time, the sets, costumes and production values are well done. Many nice touches can be seen, such as what is found in the Wizard of Oz chamber. Check out the smoke, billowing fire, animated face.

Based on novel by L. Frank Baum, the Screen Play was written by: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf.

The Wizard of Oz gets high marks from this reviewer in family entertainment. For little children, the witch may have them checking the closets and under the bed, so perhaps parents should preview it to see if its too scary. She does melt in the end, and good prevails, but its good to be cautious.

If you enjoyed THE WIZARD OF OZ, you may like TIME BANDITS, THE NEVERENDING STORY, and/or BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE

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