is a 1939 film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the most well-known and commercially successful adaptation of the story based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
In this charming film, 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.
· The story is a fantastic tale about a Kansas farm girl who’s sucked up in a tornado no less and spirited off to the wondrous land of Oz. The film still tingles with freshness and beauty.
· Garland is forever memorable as Dorothy Gale, and the supporting performances of Bolger, Lahr,Haley, Hamilton and Morgan are all stand out and will remain national treasures forever.
· The superb songs of E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen are still beautifully blended with the lovely photography, cinematography and art direction.
· The on-going quests of the characters will remind you that our very human goal of finding balance and happiness in life can be found when realizing we all have a brain to think, a heart to love, the courage to try and family who will center us and friends who will join us on the adventure!
The films use of Technicolor set new standards in the industry – introduced dramatically by going from a black and white reality to full Technicolor fantasy.
It was not a box office success on its initial release, earning only $3,017,000 on a $2,777,000 budget, despite receiving largely positive reviews.The film was MGM’s most expensive production at that time, and did not recoup much of the studio’s investment until subsequent re-releases.
It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture but lost to . It did win in two other categories including Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow.”
The 1956 television broadcast of the film re-introduced the film to the public that eventually made it an annual tradition and one of the most known films in cinema history. The film was named the most-viewed motion picture on television syndication by the Library of Congress who also included the film in its National Film Registry in its inaugural year in 1989. It is often ranked on best movie lists in critics’ and public polls.
· W.C. Fields was originally chosen for the role of the Wizard, a role turned down by Ed Wynn as he thought the part was too small, but the studio ran out of patience after protracted haggling over Fields’ fee; instead, another contract player, Frank Morgan, was cast on September 22.
· The studio, Metro-Goldwyn Meyer, outbid 20th Century Fox for the movie rights. Fox had wanted Shirley Temple to star.
· Mervyn LeRoy considered having a man play Toto.
· The cowardly lion’s costume was made of a real lion skin.
· The snow in the poppy scene was made of asbestos.
· Judy Garland had to wear a super-tight corset to make her figure seem younger.
· The Tin Man’s oil was actually chocolate syrup.
· Judy Garland’s daughter, Liza Minelli, was married to Jack Haley, Jr., the son of the actor who played the Tin Man.
· Toto reportedly earned $125 per week of filming—but each Munchkin actor just $50.
· The horses in the Emerald City were colored with Jell-O, which they kept trying to lick off.
· Dorothy’s slippers in the book were silver.
· Toto was played by a female dog named Terry.
· Four sets of ruby slippers were used during filming.
· Margaret Hamilton’s copper-based green makeup could not be ingested, so she survived entirely on liquids during filming.
· Billie Burke, who played Glinda the Good Witch, was 54 during filming, while Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch, was 36.
· Judy Garland originally wore a blonde wig and heavy makeup for filming, but producers soon opted for a more natural look.
· “Over the Rainbow” was almost cut from the film for length reasons.
· The actress who voiced Disney’s Snow White made a voice cameo during the Tin Man’s “If I Only Had a Heart” (She’s the one who says, ‘Wherefore art thou, Romeo?’)
· The ruby slippers were a size 5.
· The 1939 of the film read, in part: “It is all so well-intentioned, so genial and so gay that any reviewer who would look down his nose at the fun-making should be spanked and sent off, supperless, to bed.”
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