The Wizard of Oz (1939)
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Victor Fleming, Richard Thorpe
Noel Langley, L. Frank Baum, L. Frank Baum
Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin, Clara Blandick, Pat Walshe, Terry
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Re-evaluating a Classic
My opinion on The Wizard of Oz is completely unfair; I don't see it with eyes that are not my own and refuse to grade it softly simply because it was from a time in which it was considered groundbreaking. There were limits on filmmaking then that are no longer restraining the art; the same could be said of student films.
I have about the same amount of interest in watching both, which is to say very little.
The Wizard of Oz features hill-billy girly Dorothy (Judy Garland) as she gets flung on a 'hero's' journey with her little yappy-dog Toto into a bizarre acid trip where she meets her three helpers Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion. They travel to meet the great and powerful Oz, the one person that is supposed to be able to send her home. But, of course, it's much more complicated and simple than that at the same time.
My biggest criticism of The Wizard of Oz is based entirely on the fact that it's old, hokey, and magoo - released today, it wouldn't rate much better than cheesy kids' fare and that's how I see it. It's also a victim to the same overbloated and maudlin acting of its time with few notable exceptions. It doesn't fit my sensibilities as an adult and never really did as a child.
A timeless criticism that I have is one that Wizard of Oz shares with modern films too numerous to list in that the main character doesn't drive the action so much as get slapped around like a pinball; the point of the whole mess was to basically make her so sick of the place and tired of its bullsh*t that she appreciates what she had. She doesn't really make any decisions about what to do; things are done to Dorothy or taken from her or given to her and being a stranger in a strange land has no choice but to follow the yellow brick road. When the good witch states that she had the power to return home at any time, I wish that Dorothy would have slapped the sh*t out of her.
I judge movies on one timeline - now. If you were to release The Wizard of Oz now (assuming it had not been released in 1939) it would only do moderately well and would likely not be seen as any great achievement; I can appreciate the artistry that went into it at the time, but that doesn't make it any more watchable today. It's not especially compelling from a story standpoint and is more than a little lame. The only reason I can think that this movie has the popularity it does it pure nostalgia.
And I don't give out points for that.
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Apr 22, 2008 8:56 AM
|I think that your statement of "If you were to release The Wizard of Oz now (assuming it had not been released in 1939) it would only do moderately well and would likely not be seen as any great achievement" is not true.|
I dont know if you have kids Thom....but kids of todays time still choose The Wizard Of Oz as their favorite movie often enough that if it had been released today it would bring the same success as Finding Nemo, Cars or any of those other kid movies that rake in over a hundred million.
My daughter is almost 10 and she use to watch Oz everyday, her cousin is the same age and use to watch it all the time, when I was young my cousin loved Oz the most out of any other film. Now its mostly girls that I am speaking of but my son has enjoyed it as well.
Maybe for adults Oz wouldnt make as strong of a mark as it did in the 30's but I still think that Oz was so successful because it was a movie that adults liked just as much as kids, not like todays kids films that adults can stand to sit through but leave the theatre knowing that they were really only watching a film for their children.
Apr 22, 2008 8:31 PM
|Actually, WIZARD OF OZ (as most people should know by now) was a box office bomb at its time. People then weren't even really interested in seeing it.|
In all fairness, WOZ is the ultimate cult classic hit. It's now embraced by a bunch of mainstream people (like people who came out of the woodwork to later cradle CLERKS when they didn't know of its existence until it was out on VHS - trivia is that it remains the number one most "stolen" video of any film) but in essence, if it weren't for the hardcore Judy fans (aka the closeted bunch at the time - JUST KIDDING), I don't know if it would have made it this far in our movie history.
Apr 24, 2008 6:51 PM
|I think Oz is just a place to escape...and realize that you didn't need to escape at all, because you have a good thing right here where you are. Maybe you don't have enough imagination to really appreciate this film?|
I do like that you don't shy away from stating your opinion, though, and you make good points. I'm surprised they aren't re-making this flick right now, actually.
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