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The Wizard of Oz
8 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Victor Fleming, Richard Thorpe

Written By:
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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The Wizard of Oz (1939)
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Movie Review by Filmkiller
April 22nd, 2008

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 1:24 PM
I just don't think that this is one of those films that would appeal to adults if they didn't have a nostalgic attachment to it. For whatever reason Wizard of Oz never did it for me; even as a kid I thought it was not 1/10 as cool as say Star Wars then or, say, the Incredibles now.
Apr 23, 2008 1:29 AM
I agree, I thought Star Wars, Rocky, Rambo, Indiana Jones hell lots of things were way cooler to me, but little girls long to be Dorthy.....thats why they STILL sell ruby red slippers....
Apr 23, 2008 3:12 AM

Do little girls long to be Dorothy because they sell the ruby slippers and checkered baby-doll dress and mom and dad think that pumpkin would look so precious in them? In other words, like religion, do people come to love Wizard of Oz on their own terms or because it's what they were raised into? AND HOW MANY LICKS DOES IT TAKE TO GET TO THE CENTER OF A TOOTSIE ROLL TOOTSIE POP?

The world may never know. : )
Apr 23, 2008 8:39 AM
lol ..... "mom and dad think that pumpkin would look so precious in them?"

man im glad I was not drinking anything when I read that cause Im sure I would have choked laughing...
Apr 23, 2008 2:36 PM
That's the nicest thing anyone ever said to me : D
May 16, 2008 12:27 AM
Maddie chose to be Dorothy for Halloween last year all on her own, bub.

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 22, 2008 10:08 PM
Technically the abreviation of Wizard Of Oz should be WOO, no?

I'll admit that I have a little popularity bug. Basically, if I think something is crappy, I think it's crappy, if I think something is great, I think it's great, but if I think something is so-so-ish and everyone just goes on and on and on and on and on about how fabulous it is, the bug kicks in and I begin to loathe it.

Wizard of Oz is just from another time (planet) to me, unlike something like Citizen Kane that has a subtlety and relevance even today. I also have a general truth to how I feel about movies: I either see myself in one of the characters, or I want to see myself as one of the characters. WOO just has a bunch of whiners, goofballs, weirdos, and pussies.

I also admit ignorance about WOO's cult status because I don't do research or generally discuss movies I don't give two sh*ts and a squirt of piss about. In fact, I've done "top 10 films of all time" lists with people where I was thankful that we kept it to more recent fare so I wouldn't have to argue about all the old "classics" that are grossly overrated.

For instance, I like Casablanca, I think it's a good film that still holds up, but THE NUMBER ONE MOVIE OF ALL TIME? What the f*ck is the basis for that? It's not the most complex, nor best acted, nor technically executed, nor original - there is nothing that justifies that lofty ranking.

And the Maltese Falcon is a steamer.
Apr 23, 2008 2:06 AM
Yeah, but WOZ looks cooler.

I hear what you're laying out.
Apr 23, 2008 3:13 AM
Well thank you, G. Er, Z. : )
May 18, 2008 3:58 AM
Although I am the biggest WOO fan ever, I can understand why certain people would think it was over-rated. I have never seen Gone With The Wind but I know I would not like it better then WOO.
Apr 23, 2008 8:49 PM
It wasnt a bomb it actually turned a profit when it was first released,

The budget spent was $2,777,000 to make which in todays time translates to about $32,088,444.92
according to the Consumer Price Index.

The film took in 3,000,000 at the box office its first time around which is about $34,665,226.78 so it actually made a little over $2 million dollars.

Why it was considered a failure is descriped here...
"It soon became a classic institution, and a rite of passage for everyone, and probably has been seen by more people than any other motion picture over multiple decades. Initially, however, the film was not commercially successful (at $3 million), but it was critically acclaimed. "

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.
Apr 24, 2008 8:08 PM
[comment deleted by Filmkiller]
Apr 24, 2008 8:13 PM
Well, it has been remade in a couple of different forms; Sci-fi recently did a mini-series called Tin Man.

Imagination? I was worried at one point that I was going to end up like Robin Williams in The Fisher King.

No, my reason is rooted in one of my above posts. For a story to engage me, I need to either see a piece of myself in one of the characters, or I need to wish I was more like one of the characters. Other films that remind me of this are Cable Guy, Spiderman 2 - basically any movie where the protagonist lets people walk all over him. Different reason for WOO, but I do not see any aspect of myself in any of the Oz characters anymore, and even when I did it was to an extreme (Lion) and was something that I was deeply ashamed about.

I appreciate what I have.
I don't question my intelligence.
I'm too much heart if anything.
I'm not a puss anymore.
And I don't lie about who I am.

Also, as I have stated several times, film acting really wasn't its own art form for quite some time, so most older films still have exaggerated movements and ways of speaking which offend my character-first-so-long-as-the-acting-is-good-I-can-wink-away-everything-el se film sensibilities.

Chasing Amy is probably the best example of my condition. The film work in Chasing Amy is some of the worst I have ever seen, including student films and Youtube crap. But the characters are so expertly performed by Affleck, Lee, and Adams that I can forgive everything else.

And I HATE sh*tty camera work! : )
Apr 25, 2008 12:06 PM
Sweet! Thanx for clearing that up. I only made that inquiry about your imagination, because I don't know you yet. Now I know a little more about you...about the way you work. :)
I understand your reasoning and I agree with the horribly over exaggerated acting they did back in the day. I guess it's just a cult classic and I'm in the cult. *shrugs*
Apr 25, 2008 2:20 PM
Each to their own. I would have given WOO only a half star for my own taste, but I thought for the technical achievement that it was in its day it deserved a little something.

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