The Wizard of Oz (1939) Poster

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A true cinematic milestone
robb_7727 May 2006
Where to begin? MGM's elaborate adaptation of L. Frank Baum's 1900 fantasy classic THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ not only became an institution among itself (and practically defined the concept of modern popular culture), but is reported to be the most viewed film ever made. A sharp screenplay effectively condenses the novel's text into a workable film, and director Victor Fleming (along with countless other behind-the-scenes technicians) craft a visually stimulating fantasy world that surpasses the expectations of even the most imaginative viewers. Brimming with stunning visual effects (the film's fierce tornado is an FX feat that has yet to be surpassed by CGI), witty dialogue, and eye-popping Technicolor, THE WIZARD OF OZ truly lives up to it's reputation as a once-in-a-lifetime film where every element comes together flawlessly.

The cast could not be improved upon. The quivery-voiced, solemn-faced Judy Garland will always be Dorothy, the little lost farm girl on the road to Oz, clutching her beloved Toto (impressively portrayed himself by the female canine performer Terry, the terrier). It seems inconceivable that MGM had originally wished to cast Shirley Temple in the role, as Temple's doe-eyed, cutesy-voiced shtick would have been a catastrophic ill-fit for the tone of this picture. Conversely, Garland is perhaps the screen's quintessential woman/child; always seemingly just one step away from reaching full emotional maturity. It is her sadness that transfixes viewers to the screen, the exact same quality that made the film's most memorable Harold Arlen/E. Y. Harburg number "Over the Rainbow" into one of the most exquisite marriages between artist and song ever to be recorded.

The remainder of the cast is similarly exceptional, many of whom perform perfectly even under the most debilitating make-up and costumes. Frank Morgan is marvelously versatile in no less than five roles, the insanely energetic Bert Lahr mugs brilliantly, the handsome Jack Haley swoons sweetly, Billie Burke lends the film an ornate ethereality, and Ray Bolger's gravity-defying physical presence nearly steals the entire picture on several occasions. Perhaps most notable is former schoolteacher Margaret Hamilton's transformation into the wickedest of wicked witches, which certainly remains among the vilest and most terrifying portrayals of full-throttle evil ever to be seen. No matter how it is analyzed, scrutinized, or satirized, the 1939 production of THE WIZARD OF OZ is a top-notch example of how to turn a great story into a fabulous, milestone of a film.
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Still Has Its Magic
Snow Leopard27 September 2004
Judy Garland's portrayal of Dorothy, Dorothy's oddball Oz friends, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", and the rest of this fine production of "The Wizard of Oz" have lost little of their magic over the years. While it has become oddly fashionable in recent years to deride this kind of classic, innocent fantasy, the movie itself has aged very well, and it is likely to retain an appreciative audience for some time to come.

There's no doubt that part of the appeal of the story and the characters comes from them being such old friends to so many cinema fans, but there are also good reasons why they have endured for so long, and have been able to hold up even after becoming so familiar. Although Dorothy is not a particularly complex character, she represents an innocent but deep yearning that is easy to identify with. Likewise, the 'Oz' characters are bizarre enough to remain interesting, but there is a core of substance that again is easy to believe in. Who does not feel that he or she could use at least one of the things that Dorothy's friends want?

The adaptation from the original story is done quite well, making fine choices for the characters and episodes that would work on film. The settings and visual effects may not impress the devotees of today's computer imagery, but in their time they certainly demonstrated a great deal of skill and planning, and even now, in their own way they are more believable than are most of the computer tricks that have become so overused.

The popular story has also been used for a number of more recent adaptations, and some of them have had some good points of their own. But this Wizard remains by far the most wonderful of the versions of the classic tale.
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An enchanting film with flaws that cannot seriously mar its durable delights…
Nazi_Fighter_David8 August 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Dorothy's trip, as we follow her from her Kansas farm down the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City and back home again, is depicted with rare cinematic imagination and skill…

At the beginning, we may wonder at the obvious falseness of the black-and-white Kansas setting, although the monotonous, arid landscape ultimately makes an effective contrast to the later scenes in Oz… But rationality disappears the moment Judy Garland strikes at the heart with her trembling singing of "Over the Rainbow." And when Frank Morgan appears as Professor Marvel, we are captivated by his familiar bumbling charm…

Dorothy's entrance into the land of Oz remains one of the screen's most memorable moments, as the black-and-white scene give way to glowing color photography… "I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore!" is her understated response as she enters Munchkinland… The sequence in Munchkinland, though beautifully designed, is actually, a mixed blessing… Billie Burke is exactly right as the Good Witch of the North, and Margaret Hamilton is wonderfully shrill and repulsive as the Wicked Witch of the West… But the Munchkins themselves, midgets gathered from all over the world for the occasion, are all wonderful with their prematurely old faces and chipmunk voices…

The talents of Dorothy's friends—Jack Haley as the Tin Man, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion—have been frequently celebrated, but their good humor and their shining humanity behind the grotesque makeup remain fresh eternally…

"The Wizard of Oz" is a joy forever… Why does it still glow, while other films of the period grow dimmer every year? It is unquestionably due to more than the sum of its sterling cast, winning songs, and lovely special effects, although the absence of these virtues has turned more than one "musical fantasy" into failures… It may be that Dorothy steps from black-and-white Kansas into the bright colors of Munchkinland, she is taking everyone's first voyage of discovery… With the universality of the best fables, "The Wizard of Oz" has her learning about evil (the Wicked Witch), friendship (her companions on the road to Oz), and fallibility (the Wizard). And somehow children—and the child in all of us—like to see this voyage made repeatedly…

Children as adults, today as in 1939, "The Wizard of Oz" will remain for us the beloved movie ever made!
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A Wiz of a film, if ever a Wiz there was
DonFL11 August 2003
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.
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Finding Her Way Back Home -- To Our Hearts.
nycritic13 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Even with the advance of special effects there will never be a movie as honest and as true to its heart as THE WIZARD OF OZ, with the exception of THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY. But since the latter is too new, it can't be compared to the former. Everyone at one point of their lives, especially as children, has seen this film and has experienced the emotions that Dorothy experienced, the terror of entering the Wicked Witch's lair, her transition from little girl to wise young woman, and this incredible world that L. Frank Baum created and Hollywood perfected.

What makes a great movie? The experience that you are watching it for the very first time, whether you were seven years old or an adult living in an adult world. This film is one of those. Even when as an adult I can see some of the cracks peeking through and some lapses in continuity, who cares? The tornado ripping through the cornfields is as real as the real ones I have seen even though is was really muslin. The moment that the sepia-tones from the Kansas segment peel away and Dorothy opens the door of her house and I saw the bright colors of Oz I knew I was there. The story had enveloped me now, as it had did back then. In my world, this is an utterly, fantastic film.

And what is Oz, by the way? Well, from a little girl (and the child in all of us), it's that place where our imagination runs wild, where everything is perfect, where there is no tomorrow and a yellow brick road will take us to that perfect place filled with song. It's that place where we feel we will belong, and who as a child didn't feel like we were out of place? Notice I repeat the word 'place' because this is so much about placement, places, our place and therefore, our own self-expression, our own sense of self. Who hasn't wanted to "seek a place of one's own' where light and love prevailed only to return back to where we came from, stronger and wiser? Its message is so universal. Truly, there is no place like home.

Timing is crucial for the symbolic success of this movie as well. Still in the middle of the Depression years, when unemployment was at an all time high, it focuses not just on the harshness of keeping a farm, but then throwing a parent-less girl into a strange land who finds a foster mother of sorts who would tell her that the way back home would not be an easy one. Glinda the Good represents this character, the same way, the Wicked Witch of the West represents the darker forces that watch her every move and aggressively try to trip her up. This is quite a lot on the shoulders of a little girl, and having Judy Garland -- not yet the major star but just on the brink of becoming one -- play Dorothy Gale has become casting history. In 1939 she was about seventeen, fresh-faced, innocent and vulnerable: she is Dorothy, and we can't imagine anyone else, not even nearly 70 years later.

And speaking of casting, it was genius to have the actors playing Dorothy's friends and enemies in Kansas also show up in Oz. Since the movie is so much like a dream, it's more than logical: many people in our lives sometimes show up in dreams -- it's even in books about dreams. That they also represent that which not only they, but Dorothy most of all, lacks -- courage, love, and wisdom -- makes their appearances even more intrinsic to the story, so when they grow as characters, so do we, and of course, so does Dorothy.

THE WIZARD OF OZ is timeless. So simple, so honest, but so deep in its messages about love and self-discovery. All of the actors including the veteran Billie Burke would be remembered the most for their roles here more than any other movie. The set direction is made to look as close to a storybook; all that is missing are the page frames. There isn't a false move here, and all those back-stories... well, their okay to read but for the cinema lover looking for magic, it's all here, in about two hours of pure entertainment.
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A fantasy rooted in the landscape of your childhood.
The_Film_Cricket30 May 2004
I have a theory that this movie has probably been seen by more people than any other movie. The fact that it comes to us as children is probably the reason why. Other films like 'Gone With the Wind', 'Citizen Kane', 'The Godfather', 'Star Wars', have been seen by a lot of people but in each case I can imagine people that might not have seen them. In the case of 'The Wizard of Oz' it's hard to imagine anyone who might not have seen it at some point in their lives. Almost everyone you talk to has a memory of their first experience. The reason this movie remains the most beloved of Hollywood films even after six decades is because 'The Wizard of Oz' is unique among motion pictures in that it mirrors our longings and imaginations as children.

The movie, in front of and behind the scenes, has become movie folklore. We love the legends about the rotating directors, from George Cukor to King Vidor to Victor Fleming. We know the legend of Buddy Ebsen who had to drop out due to an allergic reaction to the Tin Man makeup and Margaret Hamilton whose dress caught fire and nearly had her face burned off because of the copper-based make-up. We love stories about the problems on the set between personal feuds, sweltering costumes, partying munchkins and the costume designer who had to keep up with Judy Garland's developing bust line. There's even a spurious legend of a ghost on the set. All of these elements make 'The Wizard of Oz' a much bigger legend than it already it, but that's okay because this is the one movie that deserves to be over-hyped. It occupies such a large part of our memories that we want to make it more than it is, to just have one more reason to make it more than a movie, we want it to be a life experience.

That experience is brought to us because we are intimately familiar with its story elements. The dreams that Dorothy sings about and the adventure that follows seem to mirror our yearnings as children. She imagines a bigger place where her problems don't linger and she is free to explore them. She imagines a place where there isn't any trouble and people actually listen to what she has to say. She sees the rainbow as her golden gate to a better place because in her drab Kansas world, the rainbow is the only source of color that she knows. She dreams of a bigger place and imagines a world where troubles melt like lemondrops. We can relate. How many of us as kids sat in our room or in our yards and played, imagining a place to go and characters to interact with, a colorful world bigger than our small, confined worlds.

Oz is meant to represent the colorful palette of our imagination but for Dorothy it is also a place where she does some growing up. The three friends that she meets along the way, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Lion are emblematic of the lessons of bravery, love and devotion and the ability to think for ourselves. The Wicked Witch of the West certainly represents the real dangers along the way. For Dorothy there is a matronly figure, Glinda the Good Witch who intends for Dorothy to discover for herself how to solve her problems, she knows that Dorothy must grow up along the way. In a way, she seems to represent the parent that Dorothy doesn't have back in Kansas. Her aunt and uncle love her but this was a movie made during the depression and we imagine the climate that they live in, where work means keeping the farm. No work = no farm = no home.

For 1939, Dorothy was the perfect character for young girls. She echoes many of the small town country girls who, in the midst of the depression, packed their suitcases and ran to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune in the movies. For them this film is a cautionary tale that they'd be better off if they just stayed home. Judy Garland was perfect in the role, 17 at the time, but with wide-eyes and a beautiful, open face she carries that sense of wonderment of a child. Like most of us as children, her only true companion is a dog named Toto and the most frightening moment in the film is when she is nearly robbed of her best friend. When she sings 'Over the Rainbow' we know that it's to escape an unhappy childhood (she has apparently lost her parents) and for Garland we identify. She began in show business as a kiddie act with her sisters and began her long movie career when she was only 13. She was already a familiar face from 'Love Finds Andy Hardy' and by the time of 'Oz' she was already under contract to MGM. That she was familiar to audiences helped her in the role. That familiarity works well with her ability to project the vulnerability and melancholy that the character has to have. We have to believe that she will become frightened and that her life will be in danger because if she doesn't that we sense that the character can work her way out of the situation herself and our interest wanes.

If movies are a time capsule than 'The Wizard of Oz' wonderfully captures a brief moment of happiness in Garland's life. We know of her problems with studio execs that put her through an exhausting schedule and used drugs to get her going in the morning then put her to sleep at night. We know the legends of her mental and physical problems that dogged her most of her life but 'The Wizard of Oz' sees her at a moment in her life when it all seemed perfect, just as her star was rising and before her problems really began. There's poignancy in that, and that's why I think that the casting of Shirley Temple in the role would have been a mistake. By 1939, Temple was the biggest star in the world her presence in the film would have been too much, she would have stood out and we would only seen Shirley Temple, not Dorothy Gale.

Garland's presence allows the story a certain credibility. I have tried to imagine that famous dance down the Yellow Brick Road with a 4 foot child and it just doesn't fit.

If Garland gives the film its center than I think the production design, awe-inspiring in 1939, is the perfect backdrop. In these early musicals filmed on a soundstage it isn't hard to spot where the soundstage ends. Some have seen that as a flaw but I think it adds to the dreamlike quality of the film. The matte paintings behind the sets add to the storybook quality. The fact that we're in a dream makes it okay that the special effects look a little hasty. That was the genius of the screenplay, that and to establish the Oz characters as characters that Dorothy meets in Kansas. In our dreams we often see people and events that have recently occurred in our lives, but this is the first time I've ever seen it expressed in a movie. In particular is the notion that Professor Marvel keeps showing up as various characters in the dream.

What generosity the filmmakers had. What ingenuity to create this entire world that is colorful and beautiful and scary. What depth of character they created. What messages they send. This is a movie constructed with loving care. We're told that those who worked on the film just thought of this as just another movie, but when I watch the film I find that hard to believe. Certainly from the screenwriters. I wonder if they saw how brilliantly they were tapping our frustrations and our excitement, our dreams, our need and our sense of wonderment. I wonder if they knew the impact of what they were working on, that the lovely sentiments that they created would still resonate 60 years later. I wonder if they knew that their heart's desires weren't that far from our own.
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a milestone
rzajac12 November 2004
People talk about The Wizard of Oz as a backdrop to their lives; and how true that is. I just saw it again, DVD, for the first time in--gosh!--20 years. There was a little art house in Lansing Michigan USA that ran it back then, on the popular premise that there's nothing like TWoO on "the big screen." That's the last time I'd seen it, 'til today.

I guess the part that "gets" me about the movie is how the writers made it pretty plain that the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion really already had what they thought they were missing; that their respective problems were in misapprehending their own complete natures. That's a powerful statement for many of us. I found myself most touched in scenes where the Scarecrow was showing wisdom, the Tin Man feeling deeply ("...when I think of Dorothy in that awful place..."), and the Lion...well, maybe accomplishing this effect was harder in his case...what *is* true courage?

Anyway, if you're reading this here, you must be a movie weenie, and you've no doubt already seen the movie, so I'm not going to recite the usual "go see this movie" mantra.

I was just very touching to see this movie again, at this phase in my life.

I will mention a few more things about how I now see this movie as a "growed up" (I'm almost 50): It's interesting how you can see the production values of the time; the lot sets and special effects and so forth. This movie is a powerful example of how a good story overcomes limited means in other areas.

People who look back with disdain on the low-tech chintz of old movies can see in TWoO the magic ingredient; narrative solidity. And I'm not a pollyanna about this: I'm sure the underlying reality behind its making is rife with horror stories of expert disagreement, rewrites, discarding, jerryrigging, and the rest of it. But in the end, something like narrative love won out; and that's the important thing.

Oh: And having Harold Arlen write the music was good luck indeed. And orchestrations which cleverly appropriated very tasty new ideas in composition (polymodalism, non-standard phrasings, etc.) didn't hurt, either!

Geez, this movie is such a little universe....I'd better stop here.
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Timeless classic still entertaining the masses as each generation comes in.
Spikeopath26 December 2008
Dorothy is a young girl living on a Kansas farm, during a tornado, she, along with her dog Toto, is swept up and plonked down in a magical and mysterious land known as Oz. Desperate to get back home and under threat from a wicked witch, she is advised to seek out a great wizard who should be able to help her get back home. As she sets off and on her way she meets and befriends a wonderful array of characters whom also have something to ask of the fabled wizard, it's a journey that will prove to be both magical and fraught with danger.

The Wizard Of Oz is a film that has been pored over and dissected from almost everyone involved in the wonderful world of film. One thing that strikes me every time I view it is that their not only is no place like home, there is also no film like The Wizard Of Oz, and really, when all is said and done, there is unlikely to be another film of its ilk to ever grace the silver screen. Upon multiple viewings only the most biased of film fan could say that it is a technically perfect picture, it clearly isn't. At times it's a wee bit creaky and when scrutinised, some of the performances in the piece are far from an excellent standard, but crucially any misgivings are quickly erased due to the wonder of it all because the film has an ability to transport everybody who is watching into OZ alongside Dorothy.

The Wizard Of Oz appeals {and caters} to every demographic and pretty much any age group; adventure, meeting new friends, fears and trepidations, booming colour, songs to singalong with, and of course it's total point of homely values: The Wizard Of Oz stands up well 70 years later because it taps into all the emotions available to the human being, be it a young child spellbound on a first viewing, or an octogenarian couple of grandparents wistfully humming along to the tunes, it's a film that shouldn't be dissected looking for faults and hidden meanings, it's a film that should be loved and praised for the ode to fantastical whimsy that it so obviously is.

The film of course will forever be associated with its darling star, Judy Garland. Viewing now, and knowing what a sad life she would eventually lead, The Wizard Of Oz is a fitting picture on which to remember what a magical and wonderful performer she was, myself as a 14 stone lump of waning machismo, I have no shame in saying that as Judy sings Somewhere Over The Rainbow I melt and feel as tho I'm being sent spinning into another world, that's the power of the piece, as a sepia Kansas becomes the glorious colour of Oz, nothing else in my world matters, I'm in hook line and sinker.

There are many interesting back stories to the picture, with books galore available to anyone interested. Some notes that might interest you being: original castings to be W.C. Fields, Shirley Temple and Deanna Durbin, munchkins running riot, drunken cast members, sadness and suicides, and grizzled old pros fighting hard not to let Garland steal the picture. Well it makes for a great read, for sure, but what remains to this day is one of the most beloved pictures to have ever been made, for once in the pantheon of great cinema we have a film that is termed a classic, that actually deserves to have that tag. One of the great things about the advent of technology is that it can benefit old classic movies to make them better, for now we can view remastered editions of The Wizard Of Oz and appreciate even more what a great job the makers did. Keep your eyes on Dorothy's Ruby Slippers during the film and see how they are the sparkling important character that they should be, or take in the brilliant work of the make up crew, the tiniest of rivets on The Tin Man a testament to the brilliant work that goes into bringing magic to our lives. Get the newest copy you can and then see it on the biggest screen available to you because The Wizard Of Oz is a 10/10 movie: and then some.
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I wish I could have followed the yellow brick road.
llihilloh8 December 2000
I remember watching this movie when they would air it once a year on CBS a few years back. Now it is shown on a couple of different networks quite frequently. This is a wonderful film for the whole family. Who wouldn't want to take a journey to the magical land of Oz?

I think that it is terrific how well this movie has held up over the years. It's going on sixty-two years since it was first released and yet, it is timeless. It is great to look back on a film that was made in the thirties, and compare it to the movies made in this day and age. This is a film that will just be something that stays around forever.

The Wizard of Oz is enjoyable for people of all ages. Everything about it brings a smile to my face. Wouldn't it be wonderful to just magically be transported to a land of talking trees and little munchkins? Of course it would be. The flying monkeys, a talking lion, the astounding ruby slippers, and everything else adds a special kind of magic to the screen.

The atmosphere and setting is magnificent. This is one of the things that makes the film so stunning. Anyway, the forest, the witch's castle, and even the farm is really well laid out.

I don't think that the casting could have been done any better. Judy Garland shines as the innocent Kansas girl. Her dancing and singing just brightens the whole story up. The lion, tin man, and scarecrow perform amazingly also. Everyone involved down to the littlest munchkin acts so well.

Even though this is a movie for everyone, it is categorized as a children's flick. The writing is good with very simple lines and problems, but slightly complex so we're not falling asleep of boredom.

What's left to say? Other things like the wardrobe, special effects, musical talents, and even the famous yellow brick road, are so well put together. Oz gives us an idea of what an almost perfect world would be like. No matter how old this movie becomes and we still look back on it, we'll still be able to enjoy at least one thoughtful movie. Classics never die. (Hence the name.)
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Great film for ... everybody:)))
When I was a very little boy, I saw that movie on The Bulgarian National Television and I really fell in love with it:)). It was a kind of magic that took my heart to eternity and from there it saw all the world in a very amusing way:)). I will probably never forget the first time I saw that movie...I really hope that everybody will continue watching it and it won't be among the forgotten movies... If you're very very young and you haven't seen it yet, then see it, you will feel the greatest force of the white magic:)))).

Judy Garland is THE PERFECT DOROTHY!!!:)))

See it, OK??:)))))
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Will continue to enthrall for generations to come!
Vancity_Film_Fanatic7 April 2005
One of the most cherished fantasy films to ever grace the screen, "The Wizard of Oz" stands as a crowning achievement in 1930's film making. The special effects are highly impressive considering the limited technology available at the time, not to mention they are infinitely more endearing than most CGI effects present in today's films. The lavish sets, impeccable costume design, and glowing Technicolor help to create a convincing and enchanting Land of Oz. And though obviously filmed on a soundstage, the sets never seem confining; thanks largely in part to the meticulous backdrop paintings used to add depth to the foreground. The musical numbers are quite lively & catchy -- never slowing the pace of the film -- except perhaps for the Lion singing "King of the Jungle". Judy Garland truly shines in her portrayal of Dorothy, perfectly capturing the wide-eyed innocence of her character. She definitely deserved the special Oscar she was awarded for her performance. Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, and Frank Morgan as the Wizard also turn in praiseworthy characterizations. Definitely timeless in every sense of the word, this film is recommended to those of all ages – a 10/10!
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This is a metaphor of America
Warning: Spoilers
It's often been said that this is a simple tale, a story of the coming of age for Dorothy. It's not that simple. It's also a story of the coming of age of America as seen through Dorothy's eyes.

Dorothy is a familiar American teen who grew up on a farm, a bit naive, never been to a city, but heard about them. Is family focused, but starting to open her eyes to a bigger world around her and looking for familiar structures through which she can understand that world.

The scarecrow, who thinks he's lacking a brain, is the American farmer. Usually minimally educated, often thought (at that time) of as stupid or ignorant, but it's proved through the movie that farmers in fact have a brain. Farmers are often known for their strong common sense and wisdom which is often undervalued by city folk or college types.

The cowardly lion represents the elected politicians. Afraid to do anything - especially preemptive - and shirks facing any controversy until it bites him on the rear. Only later to find that the problem was impotent all along. Politicians haven't changed in some ways.

The tin man represents industry, which is often seen as heartless machine. But when run by people who have compassion, companies have proved to "have a heart". This generosity is often seen in the form of philanthropy, but sometimes exists right in the corporate culture itself. Industry isn't always as heartless as a robot (or computer, to use a more modern metaphor).

Poppies, which represented the opium drug from China that can distract us from our goals and our responsibilities, like the more modern cocaine, marijuana, or even liquor, etc.

The "wizard" turns out to be only a mere human, as all of our heroes turn out to be in the end. We can strive to be like them, but it's only when others place us on a pedestal that our daily acts of heroism seem larger than life. It's those daily acts when added together that are truly the heroic in us all.

The wicked witch, the "enemy" of America, requires more than just an army to be overcome, it also requires brains, courage and a heart to be overcome. By "heart" understand that compassion, sympathy and empathy are vital weapons in the battle, which is why America invests so much in foreign aid.

It's this depth of storytelling that keeps us captivated by this movie as adults. There are many other reviews that better articulate the other great features to this film, such as the visual appeal, the music, the singing, the dancing, and...
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The Wizard of Oz
Coxer994 June 1999
Fantastic tale about a Kansas farm girl who's spirited off to the wondrous land of Oz. The film still tingles with freshness and beauty. Garland is forever memorable as Dorothy Gale, the young girl and the supporting performances of Bolger, Lahr,Haley, Hamilton and Morgan are all stand out and will remain national treasures. The superb songs of E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen are still beautifully blended with the lovely photography, cinematography and art direction. Unforgettable!!!
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An Endurable Fantasy...Will Continue To Last For Many Years Yet...
Jem Odewahn15 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Probably the world's most-watched film (GONE WITH THE WIND running a close second), THE WIZARD OF OZ is an enduring, magical piece of fantasy that has permeated popular culture like no other film before or since. There are hundreds of unforgettable, instant-classic moments in the film, with the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy and Toto, the songs, Garland's dazzling ruby red slippers, sepia-toned Kansas and the closing line "There's no place like a home!" just a few of the wondrous delights that THE WIZARD OF OZ offers.

It is hard to believe that the filing of "Oz" was so fraught with problems when you view the finished product. It seems a thing of absolute perfection, with Garland's casting a stroke of genius. Her wistful interpretation of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" is the stuff of legend. The spellbinding Technicolour photography is still a massive achievement, as is Oz, the utopia land of dreams and magic.

Most audiences discover the film in childhood, and they will be pleased to find out that the film is just as magical when viewed as an adult, perhaps many years later, if not more.
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Great of the best
drk199612 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I am 51 years old and can remember watching this as a child. It was a major event in our house. Staying up late to watch the whole movie was a treat. It is still a treat to watch it now. As I sit here watching it on TBS while typing this posting, you can't help but sing along with the songs. I can remember being scared to death by the witch. Her laugh gave me the heebie-jeebies. Movies from this era were so well made. To attempt to make this kind of production today would cost much more than any film made. Today computers make special effects so easy. Back then you had to very ingenious to have believable special effects. This is one of my top 10 movies off all time. It makes you feel like a kid again, and isn't that what a movie is suppose to do, take you to another time and place. Those that don't understand are entitled to their opinions, but they really don't understand the real world. The more advanced the mind, the more need for play (or fun and escape). Just my humble opinion and something to think about.
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Lechuguilla28 August 2017
It's hard to overstate the true significance of this film. The Library of Congress informs us that it is the most watched film ever made. Its signature song, "Over The Rainbow", written for the film, didn't merely win the Oscar for best original song of 1939. More significantly, decades later the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts both voted this song as the number 1 song of the twentieth century. The American Film Institute ranked it as the greatest movie song of all time.

But the film's accolades go on and on. It is one of only a few films listed in UNESCO's "Memory Of The World" Registry. Even in a supporting role, actress Margaret Hamilton turned her Wicked Witch into American Film Institute's 4th-greatest villain of all time, behind Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates, and Darth Vader. All of the main actors and many people responsible for the film's technical achievements have received and continue to receive innumerable awards and honors seventy years after the film was released.

From its inception as a children's book in 1900 by author L. Frank Baum, the simple story was retold countless times in novels, stage presentations, and other forms, in many subsequent years, including: 1908, 1910, 1914, 1925, 1933, and 1938. But it was the film of 1939, directed by Victor Fleming, that propelled the story into immortality.

With its perfect 3-Act structure, the script creates iconic characters and iconic dialogue. Some lines have morphed into cultural clichés, they are so often repeated. How many times has the line "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more" been borrowed by hack writers to use in their hack scripts? I think it was Oscar Wilde who said: "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness".

At a deeper level than the well-known story, the film's many allegories have been and will continue to be debated by scholars. Many of these allegories are so subtle they may never be appreciated by viewers, especially in an age when subtlety has been rendered a forgotten art. Is the naïve Dorothy really the American people? Does the yellow brick road symbolize the gold standard? Is the Emerald City a symbol of materialism that we in the early 21st century might equate to Wall Street?

A deep, intellectual script it may be, but the film would be merely great without its underlying emotional appeal to the heart. It's the visuals and music that render the film so beloved by the world.

And when you join the simple, yet intellectual, story with the power of great visuals and great music, you create a timeless expression of the human experience. The summary message is thus conveyed that no matter where or how far you may roam, and no matter what joys and friendships you may experience along the way, after all and in the end, there's no place like home.

It's almost impossible to view this film objectively, critically, so magical, mythical, and powerful has it become. It's a film that does not require a plot summary; it's too well known for that, too burned into our collective consciousness.

Academy Award films, well-made classic films linger with us. But "The Wizard Of Oz" isn't just another Oscar winner or classic film. It is unique, its own category, a one-of-a-kind artistic expression. There will never be another film quite like it. If humans are still around a thousand years from now, someone, somewhere, using some form of futuristic technology, will be watching it, enthralled by its universality, its timelessness.
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A HUGE classic everyone should see
GoTheDistance8 November 2005
This movie is creative, original, and very watchable. I first saw it 25 years ago. I was about 10 years old. I still find myself watching it every time it's on TV. It's not supposed to be realistic(obviously). It's filled with metaphors and meaning. Here's some trivia that can be missed. Repeated viewing reveals that the 3 characters that Dorothy meets are based on 3 people she knows. They are seen earlier in the movie, and are played by the same people. When re-watching, their early dialog becomes more note-worthy.

The music is VERY memorable. And the movie has a very popular catch phrase everyone's heard many times. Also, there was a play on PBS in '95 based on the movie and I loved it. It starred Jewel and Roger Daltry as the Tin man and he ROCKed - literally. It was classic. I like how the audience laughing added to the play. It's out on VHS.
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lauraeileen8946 April 2007
In the fall of 2006, my husband and I saw a screening "The Wizard of Oz" that had a full orchestra providing the soundtrack. Never in my life had I seen a more eclectic audience: there were families with little children, adults who came alone (one woman was dressed as Glinda), teens and college students, even couples who had to have been in their '90s. Not to gush, but it's really a testimonial to "Oz"'s legacy that it can appeal to every generation, to every age. Like hot chocolate or Mickey Mouse T-shirts, "The Wizard of Oz" is something you never have to worry about being too old for. There is something so comforting about the familiar story of farm girl Dorothy's journey through the strange but wonderful land of Oz, and yet it remains a wonder to behold. I still get excited when Dorothy steps out her sepia-toned world of Kansas into the Technicolor Munchkinland, even though I learned ages ago how the trick was done. I'm still overjoyed when Dorothy makes another odd yet loyal friend along her journey (hmmm, a nice message of tolerance, too!). I still cry when Dorothy bids her friends farewell (Jack Haley in particular breaks my heart). I just want to yell at the screen, "no! Forget boring old Kansas, stay in Oz!"

Not only is "The Wizard of Oz" a charming, addictive classic, but it's one of the best-cast films ever. Putty-limbed Ray Bolger ("Some people without brains do and AWFUL lot of talking, don't they?"), over-the-top Bert Lahr (I haven't any courage at all, I even scare myself!"), and boyishly charming Jack Haley ("Now I know I have a heart, 'cause it's breaking.") are pitch-perfect in their respective roles as the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Man. All three were vaudeville vets, and they infuse their roles with both theatrical shtick and warmth. Billie Burke is memorably twittery yet poised as Glinda the Good Witch, and who can possibly forget Margaret Hamilton's cackling, gleefully evil performance as the Wicked Witch of the West? Hamiltion's iconic, villainous image is so emblazoned in our minds, that it's easy to forget she was a former kindergarten teacher and future animal rights activist! As superb as the cast is, however, "The Wizard of Oz" belongs to the young Judy Garland. Garland makes Dorothy a very real character that we can all relate too, whereas any other actress would have made her one-note and whiny. She believably plays an ordinary girl in an extraordinary place, her lovely brown eyes wide with awe and wonder. And that singing voice! Long before Garland's voice became tinged with tremulous desperation due to age and hard living, the true beauty and purity of her voice comes through in "Oz". Garland sings "Over the Rainbow" so simply, without a trace of theatrics, and you're swept away just the same. It's spellbinding, seeing someone so young have the presence and talent to hold a movie in the palm of her hand. "The Wizard of Oz" will remain the ultimate escapist classic for generations to come, and it will always be one of my favorites. It's comforting, familiar, why... it's just like home.
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A cinematic achievement that never truly grows old.
lewiskendell10 November 2010
"You have no power here! Begone, before somebody drops a house on you, too!"

It seems a little silly to be writing a review of The Wizard of Oz. It's the movie that's been seen by more people than any other in history. Most of us have seen it 10 times by the time we're seven. But I'll put my two cents in anyway, from an adult's point of view.

As a kid, I thought the munchkins were slightly creepy and the winged monkeys much more so, but I loved Dorothy and I loved the songs, and the entire movie was just so bright and colorful that I find it hard to believe that any kid could dislike it. Now, at the age of 25, I can still recognize the merit of it, without being influenced much by a lasting nostalgia. The Wizard of Oz is a lot like Alice in Wonderland (my all-time favorite children's novel), it treats children like they're smart and clever and capable of understanding and handling ideas that sometimes we adults forget they can get a handle on. The danger and excitement of The Wizard of Oz is a true adventure, be it a candy-coated one.

I can also better appreciate now the staggering amount of work and creativity that went into bringing this novel to life. It's just remarkable, really. The choreography, the classic songs, the sets, the costumes, the special effects, they're all still impressive today. More so, really, because many of the tools used to make modern movie magic weren't available back then. And Judy Garland...really, what needs to be said about her that isn't blindingly and extraordinarily obvious? No one else could have been Dorothy Gale.

It was nice to revisit this once again, and while some of my childhood adoration for The Wizard of Oz may be gone, my admiration for it still remains.
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Excellent fantasy
gettysburg_photos22 February 2007
The following is a quote from another review on here, complete with spelling errors...

"Hello friends. To many of you, these claims may be outrages but i hope and pray that you will take this into your heart. As many of you may know, The wizard of Oz is the classic tale of a small Kansas girl named Dorthy and her adventures in the magical land of Oz all to find a wizard who can take her home. But when you can look past all of that you can see the storys real, dark, meaning. It may shock you to know that the wicked witch of the west is actually a parody of Christianity, out cast and feared. Glenda, The good witch represents Satan, who may seem nice on the outside, but is actually out to get your soul. And of course, sweet innocent Dorthey is the modern heathen who is pulled away from Christianity by Satan. Also there is the Lion, the Tin man, and the Scare Crow an obvious mockery of the Trinity! But friends, it dose't end there, if you look closely enogh in one scene, You will see some munchkins sacrifice a virgin on an alter! I am appauld that they show this movie in schools to CHILDREN! So I urge you to throw out any Wizard of Oz related items you may have and instead READ THE BIBLE. It is a great book written by the best aurthor ever!"

End of quote. Whew!

I believe in the Bible as much as anyone, but why oh why do so many "thumpers" insist on ramming it down peoples throats? I suppose they don't realize they're doing the exact opposite of what they're attempting to accomplish. Good Lord, get a life.

The Wizard of Oz is a timeless classic. Period. End of story. Did you notice I said, story? It's a fairytale. A delightful fantasy. Nothing more, nothing less.
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Enchanting, almost nostalgic art!
eadon-com19 December 2005
With trepidation I decided to watch The Wizard Of Oz, for I have memories of it from when I was five, 32 years ago. My memory was of a flying house, and of a laughing witch, who didn't quite look like the witch I saw yesterday, but that is false memory for you! Of course yesterday I saw the movie as a hardened adult, as opposed to a pure innocent, so philosophically I am a different person. Even if there were no nostalgia in memory, there would have been, I feel sure, a sense that the morals of this movie would never be repeated today. We live in a world where even infants' dolls have been sexualised with makeup. Of course no time in history was innocent, but here we had a media that put warmth above "cool", charm above cynicism. There is something of a relatively European feel about Oz, a sensation I rarely see with Hollywood, with the magical The Lord Of The Rings trilogy being another example. The movie was an absolute joy to watch, such pleasure from movies is rare to be had, and I cannot recommend this enough, not just as an antidote to MTV-generation philistinism, but as a genuine work of art. No doubt much has been written on the skill and joyousness of the acting , the amazing sets, the imagination, the witty songs, the metaphors and the songs, all of which are perfect. I recommend showing this to all kids, it has so much more depth than the tacky, merchandising-driven modern stuff they ingest! And equally I recommend it to grown-ups, for we need this therapy more than the kids :)
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The best fantasy of all time
Chris Gaskin24 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen The Wizard of Oz lots of times and never tire of it. It has to be the best fantasy movie ever made.

A twister sends Dorothy, her dog Toto and their home to the magical land of Oz. When there, she first discovers her home has crushed the Wicked Witch of the East to death and the area of Oz she has landed in is Munchkin Land. After a visit from the Good Witch of the North, some songs with the munchkins and an unpleasant visit from the Wicked Witch of the West, she starts to make her way along the Yellow Brick Road to the Emarald City to visit the Wizard himself who can get her back home to Kansas. On the way, she meets up with the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion and they eventually end up at the Emarald City. Before eventually meeting the Wizard, she is kidnapped by the Wicked Witch of the West's strange monkey-bat creature slaves and locked up in her castle but is rescued and the Witch disintegrates when some water is thrown over her. Dorothy then gets to see the Wizard, who gives the Scarecrow his brain, the Tin Man his heart and the Cowardly Lion his courage. The Wizard turns out to be a Kansas person as well but his balloon is accidentally released and Dorothy misses out on returning home with him. She returns home by saying "There's No Place Like Home" but all this turns out to be a dream at the end.

The best song in the movie has to be "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", which Dorothy sings before she gets to Oz.

Now to the excellent cast. Judy Garland plays her best role as Dorothy and is joined by Frank Morgan who has five roles, Burt Lahr, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley and an excellent performance from Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West.

This movie is an excellent way to spend part of an afternoon, not just at Christmas when most TV channels screen it. The VHS copy I own also features some extras, including one on the making of the move.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
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Magic of The Wizard of Oz Created Through Theatrical, Cinematic and Musical Effects
Chase Y.1 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Wizard of Oz, based on the children's book by Frank Baum, was released in 1939. The screen play was written by Noel Langley and the film was directed by Victor Flemming. Judy Garland stars as the main character Dorothy Gale. Billie Burke plays Glinda the Good Witch of the North, Ray Bolger the Scarecrow, Jack Haley the Tin Woodman, Bert Lahr the Cowardly Lion, Margaret Hamilton the Wicked Witch of the West, and Frank Morgan the Wizard of Oz.

The story begins when Dorothy's house gets swept up in a tornado in Kansas and then lands in the magical world of Oz. When she steps outside of her house after the storm, Dorothy finds that her house has landed on the Wicked Witch of the East, and she acquires the witch's ruby slippers after she encounters the munchkins, Glinda the Good Witch, and the Wicked Witch of the West. To find her way back home to Kansas, Dorothy must travel to the Emerald City to see the Wizard of Oz. Along her way down the yellow brick road, she meets three new friends: Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion. Together, the group reaches the Wizard and, after killing the Wicked Witch of the West, the Wizard grants the Scarecrow a brain, the Tin Woodman a heart, the Cowardly Lion courage and Dorothy a ride home to Kansas in his hot air balloon. Unfortunately, the Wizard accidentally takes off before Dorothy can get on board. Then the Good Witch of the North enters and informs Dorothy she can go home by clicking the ruby slippers together and saying "there's no place like home." When Dorothy returns home, she realizes she was dreaming and many of the people from her life in Kansas were the characters she met in Oz.

I think because the story was first adapted to the stage as a musical, the directors of the film used a combination of theatrical and cinematic effects to create the movie. I think the combination of these effects helped create the child-like whimsy of the story.

Many theatrical effects can be seen throughout the movie. The characters' costumes and make up, especially that of the Munchkins, the Scarecrow, the Tin man, the Lion, the trees in the forest, the witches and the flying monkeys, would also be suitable for the stage. Much of the depth in the scenes and shots that take place in Oz, such as the field of flowers leading toward the Emerald City, is created by painted backdrops and panels similar to what you would see in on-stage productions. For many scenes, the camera was also positioned to give an audience member's point of view and much of the blocking is set up similar to an on-stage production. Many of the special effects are also theatrical in nature. The melting of the wicked witch was accomplished with dry ice and a hydraulic lift that lowered the actress into the set floor, much like a trap door on a stage. The Wizard's lair was accomplished with dry ice, lighting and fire. They also created the Wizard's hot air balloon with a painted backdrop and the basket was lifted with a pulley system to give the effect that he had taken off.

However, many effects in the movie could only be accomplished by using cinematic techniques. Special effects such as the horse of a different color, the wicked witch's crystal ball, the good witch's pink bubble, and certain scenes with the flying monkeys could only have been created in the cinema. The director used the camera in a variation of shot angles, durations, sizes and movements to emphasize different actions and ideas that could not be highlighted as well in a stage production. The directors also used the camera to add to the mise en scène of certain sequences such as the shots when Dorothy is clicking the ruby slippers together and saying, "there's no place like home." The shot is long in duration and is a close up on Dorothy. The lens slightly blurs the focus and then eventually overlays three images together: Dorothy's face, her ruby slippers, and a starburst-like pattern. This helps add to the idea that Dorothy is crossing back into the real world from the dream world. Another major effect that was only possible in film was the switch from sepia tone to color when Dorothy leaves Kansas and enters Oz and when she returns to Kansas from Oz. This effect helps creates a distinct separation between Dorothy's real world and fantasy world.

Another effect that added to the whimsy of the story was the audio. The movie combines diegetic sound and non-diegetic sound to help tell the story. Diegetic sound such as the singing of the actors, ambient sound such as farm animal noises, the wind from the tornado and the Wizard's voice, and the character's dialogue were sources of sound found on the screen. Non-diegetic sound such as the musical score and some sound effects was sound that came from an off screen source.

A combination of theatrical, cinematic and audio effects helped make The Wizard of Oz a movie masterpiece. The costumes, blocking, special effects, camera effects and sound all play important roles in tying the story together.
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We welcome you to munchkin land!
Kristine3 February 2004
Wizard of Oz, is it even possible for anyone to not see this film? It's such a huge part of our pop culture, the picture, the sounds, the songs, the characters, the story. When you see the movie, you absolutely fall in love with it instantly, just because of it's magical charm. It makes you laugh, cry, and just realize maybe those little moments you realize you didn't mean what you said in anger. This is also such a beautifully made film, the colors were just so elegant, not to mention for 1939, how incredibly vibrant it was. The characters are just so lovable, how could you not fall for them? Dorothy, Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and the Tin Man along with a great supporting cast made this the most memorable and cherished classic.

Dorothy is just a young girl in Kansas with her dog, Toto, and she lives with her Aunt and Uncle on the farm. When she learns that the nasty next door neighbor wants to get rid of Toto because of his barking, she runs away with him, but when she realizes she must come back home, there is a nasty tornado. The tornado lifts the house up with her in it and lands her in the world of Oz, but she learns that her house landed on the wicked witch of the east, the munchkins that she is greeted by worship her. Glenda, the good witch of the north, welcomes her as well, but the celebration is stopped when the wicked witch of the west wants Dorothy dead, but since Dorothy is wearing her sister's ruby red slippers(a gift from Glenda), she cannot harm Dorothy. But Dorothy knows she must go home, Glenda sends her to meet the wizard who will help her. On her journey to the Emerald City, she meets a scarecrow who is scared to death of fire and doesn't have a brain, he wants to come too to get a brain from the wizard. They meet the Tin Man next who has no heart, he wishes to go to the wizard to get a heart. Then they meet the Cowardly Lion who wishes to have some courage and asks if he could ask the wizard for it. Together they are on a journey to get what they want, but it won't be easy with an evil witch on their tale.

This movie has practically every memorable line that you can imagine, memorable songs, just all in all, I know in some way or another if you haven't seen this film, you just know about it. It's such a magical film that will always bring back pleasant memories for me, I just love this movie. I will always recommend it, not just because of what it is, but seriously, it's just hard not to love the film. Everyone could relate to it in some way and it just touches your heart. It's a great movie that will remain a treasured classic for years and years to come.

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