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The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Passed  |   |  Adventure, Family, Fantasy  |  25 August 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 265,921 users   Metascore: 100/100
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Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.


, (uncredited) , 3 more credits »


(screenplay), (screenplay), 18 more credits »
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Title: The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The Wizard of Oz (1939) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Top Rated Movies #197 | Won 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Pat Walshe ...
Clara Blandick ...
Toto (as Toto)
The Singer Midgets ...
The Munchkins (as The Munchkins)


In this charming film based on the popular L. Frank Baum stories, Dorothy and her dog Toto are caught in a tornado's path and somehow end up in the land of Oz. Here she meets some memorable friends and foes in her journey to meet the Wizard of Oz who everyone says can help her return home and possibly grant her new friends their goals of a brain, heart and courage. Written by Dale Roloff

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


9200 living actors in the notable star-studded cast! 68 incredibly magnificent sets! Augmented orchestra of 130 pieces! Chorus of 300 rousing voices! 100 minutes of unforgettable entertainment! (Newspaper ad, 1939). See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 August 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El mago de Oz  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,777,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,354,311 (USA) (6 November 1998)


$22,202,612 (USA) (11 October 2013)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System: The Voice of Action)| (2005 re-issue)


(Kansas sequences) (1949 re-release)| (Kansas sequences) (1955 re-release)| (Sepiatone)| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Throughout the rest of his career, Jack Haley denounced the idea that the making of this film was enjoyable: "People question me, like you're questioning me now, say 'Must've been fun making The Wizard of Oz.' It was not fun. Like hell it was fun. It was a lot of hard work. It was not fun at all." See more »


When the wicked witch is melting, the outline of the trap door is visible under the witch's dress. See more »


[first lines]
Dorothy: She isn't coming yet, Toto. Did she hurt you? She tried to, didn't she? Come on. We'll go tell Uncle Henry and Auntie Em.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits say "Photographed in Technicolor", not "Color Sequences by Technicolor", thus making it seem as if the entire film were made in color. It is not known if this was deliberately done to enhance the surprise when the picture turns into full three-strip Technicolor, but it is quite possible. Posters at the time also advertised the film as being in Technicolor, but made no mention of sepia tint or black-and-white. The advertisement for the film's first telecast, however, did say "in color and black-and-white" (the Kansas sequences were shown on TV in black-and-white, not sepia, until the 1990 telecast, when they were restored). See more »


Referenced in Nostalgia Critic: The Wicker Man (2014) See more »


If I Only Had the Nerve/We're Off To See The Wizard
(1939) (uncredited)
Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg
Music by Harold Arlen
Sung by Bert Lahr, Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, and the singing voice of Buddy Ebsen
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Wiz of a film, if ever a Wiz there was
11 August 2003 | by See all my reviews

The NBC Peacock began unfolding its wings. "The following program is brought to you in living color--with portions in black & white--on NBC." That exclusive intro began my exposure to color television at Grandma's in 1968. When Dorothy stepped out into Technicolor, I'll bet my eyes just popped.

This is the Movie of All Time, folks--a status achieved during its long run as a huge annual TV event during that classic era whose programs now show up on TV Land network. In the 1970s, Peter Marshall once read the answer on Hollywood Squares as to the program seen more times by more people than anything else ever shown on television. It was "Oz." Likewise, no movie has the hold on popular culture that this one does. What lion character ever since (i.e., Snagglepuss) hasn't been an impersonation of Bert Lahr going, "Put 'em up, put 'em uuuuup!"

Few musicals offer an equal combination of lovable music and engaging story. Perhaps "The Sound of Music." Hard to think of many Hollywood musicals where the story gets as serious as it does here when the Witch informs Dorothy that, "The last to go will see the first three go before her...and her mangy little dog too!" Yikes! In contrast, even the best of other Hollywood musicals seem to serve up fluffy, forgettable story lines that are mere backdrop to the song numbers that typically put the plot on hold.

I can't say that "Oz" doesn't have technical flaws or story element inconsistencies. It's just that the astonishing production values all around so overwhelm the shortcomings. The tornado sequence is a 1939 special effects tour de force--incredible. And the Nutcracker-quality musical score offers songs tastefully interwoven with the action. Certain numbers like "Merry Old Land of Oz," I never get tired off, though I like each of the songs.

Oz should be viewed in the lightness of spirit that it deserves. I mean look, we have Frank Morgan as the Emerald City gatekeeper, then seconds later as the cabbie with the Horse of a Different Color, then the Wizard's palace guard, and then the voice of fire-and-smoke Wizard of Oz who bellows, "Step forward, Tin Man!" What other film could put an actor go through 4 quick-changes within 10 minutes to such an endearing result? "Oz" is as magic as those sparkling ruby shoes.

The early Technicolor process utilized triple nitrate negative strips--separately recording each primary color in light. This was done due to the lack of a suitable "color film" in 1939. That would quickly change--but films from years following suffered from hues that faded with the years, even original negatives. Because "Oz" was actually filmed on a black-and-white base film, the negatives never faded. So now we have home videos/DVDs of breathtaking color quality. Now, the tinted filters in the cameras that separated the colors onto the negative strips meant that intense illumination was required, rendering the filming experience miserably hot for the actors involved, especially Lahr. But they all hold up amazingly well.

"Oz" has a valuable message. As the pop group America once said, "No, Oz never did give nothin' to the Tin Man....that he didn't, didn't already have." If we have truly search, we can find within us--or create through trial, like the Lion's courage--what we think we most lack. The Wizard (like the Lord) helps those who find help within themselves.

I feel sorry for the Almira Gulches who can't treasure this film experience. They need to visit the Emerald City to get their own ticking Testimonials and find their hearts.

Didn't bring your broomsticks with you? Well, I'm afraid you'll have to walk.

94 of 117 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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