Friday, July 1, 2016

AFI Top 100, #6: "The Wizard of Oz" (1939)

Movie Stats:
Released 1939 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Victor Fleming
Stars - Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Margaret Hamilton

Plot Summary:
After Dorothy (Garland), a young girl from Kansas, gets caught up in a tornado, she finds herself in the magical world of Oz. While there, she befriends a Scarecrow (Bolger), a Cowardly Lion (Lahr), and a Tin Man (Haley) but also makes an enemy out of the Wicked Witch of the West (Hamilton).


Bad Stuff:
I’ve always felt that Dorothy acts much younger than Judy Garland’s age, and I find it incredibly distracting. I suspect she’s supposed to be around 14 in the movie (Garland was 16 when it was filmed and she looks it), but I’m guessing in the book Dorothy was younger, probably around 11. So weird to see a teenager acting and talking like a preteen.

For a kids movie, I think it’s rather dark. I mean [SPOILER] Dorothy kills two people! Accidentally, sure, but still. And the witch sets a main character on fire! Also, those creepy ass flying monkeys [SPOILER].

There are a couple of songs I could do without. Specifically, the munchkins’ song. I think my ears are still bleeding from that high-pitched nonsense.

Good Stuff:
A lot of the special effects have held up surprisingly well. Not all of them, but more than not. I was particularly impressed with the approach of the tornado.

The central message (“there’s no place like home”) isn’t my favorite (not everyone has a great home life) but I love the secondary message, that we all have brains, courage, and heart inside of us, whether we think we do or not.

It’s funny. I chuckled quite a few times.

Apart from the munchkins, there are some great singing voices and fun songs.

The Verdict:
I hadn’t seen this since I was a young child. I hated it back then. Seeing it now with adult eyes, I think it frightened me when I was a kid and that’s why I didn’t like it (the witch and the flying monkeys are pretty scary). I wasn’t exactly looking forward to this viewing, but I liked it much better this time around. I like that it’s funny, and that it has a great imagination. The acting is solid. Most of the singing is great. Cinematography is also good. I don’t know that I’d want to watch it over and over again, but once every few years would be entertaining.

I give it 4 stars.


Patricia said...

The first time I watched this I was probably 5 and tried to hide behind the refrigerator when the Cowardly Lion appeared. But it didn't over-traumatize me and I used to watch this every year.

I think in the books Dorothy is 10. I remember reading how they had to make her costume so it flattened out her curves.

balyien said...

Thanks for the info about Dorothy's age! Definitely what I suspected.

This is going to sound stupid, but watching it as an adult, it was the first time I realized that the lion, scarecrow, and tin man were the same actors as the farm hands.