Wizard of OzAFI Rank: #6
Year Released: 1939
Director: Victor Fleming
Actors: Judy Garland
A girl, a lion, a scarecrow and a tin man take on the wilds of Oz - with their little dog Toto, too! A classic children's fable with so many more layers.
It was a copyright mistake that got this movie launched. While its initial release in 1939 was barely registered, the company which owned the movie forgot to renew its copyright. Suddenly the movie was "fair game" and intrepid TV stations began showing this movie - for free, in essence, every year as a big feature. I remember being thrilled each year when it got to be time for the showing. My sister and I would curl up in our blankets, preparing to yet again be transported from our grainy black and white world into a marvelous colorful world of talking scarecrows and flying monkeys.
Every year, something new would be revealed. We would relate more to the cowardly lion and his fears. We'd understand the dual pulls of Dorothy - how she longed for something more interesting, but how she also craved the comforts of home, too. The movie became embeded into our culture. In modern times, a book like "Wicked" - telling how the evil witch was actually just misunderstood - can become instantly popular because we all understand the story so well. We know instantly what the "man behind the curtain" means.
The original story by L. Frank Baum is apparently a multi-layered political story about different branches of government and industry, sort of like how the Mother Goose stories are all actually political tales. Be that as it may, most people who watch the movie version of The Wizard of Oz aren't thinking about industry moguls or politics. They're thinking of a basic story. And perhaps that is what makes this story shine. It can have a powerful meaning at its most basic layers - a girl and her dog. It can also have much more meaning for literate adults who can see the many hidden meanings within each character.
Highly recommended, given how many movies, tv shows and other media make reference to these characters.
Male vs Female Actors
Amazingly, the movie has great strong female leads! Dorothy of course, and then the Good Witch and the Bad Witch are all key characters. I appreciate that a lot!
The Bechdel Test
Also amazingly, this movie has the females talking about all sorts of topics. Wonderful :)
Buy Wizard of Oz from Amazon.com
AFI Top 100 Film Listing
Male vs Female Actors in the AFI Top 100
The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100