The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz ★★★★

How many times have you seen The Wizard of Oz? If your house is or was anything like mine, the answer is probably in the double digits somewhere. We all know the famous lines and the technical achievements and the songs, but is it actually any good? Yes, yes it is. There's some definite cheese here, mostly in Dorothy's constant "Oh!" exclamation and the sometimes over the top acting, but those are mostly made up for in the astounding physicality from the characters like Scarecrow and the Wicked Witch of the West. They are iconic not just for how they look but also how they act, walk, dance, jeer, intimidate.

I watched this with my sister, as I had many times before. She's in the process of auditioning to be either Dorothy or Glinda (the two singing roles) in a local theater production. It was interesting to watch with that lens, because it made me focus more on the stunts and sets that really bring the land of Oz to life. The Technicolor is just astounding, those reds and yellows and greens still pop like they must have for audiences in 1939. The sets are a wondrous mix of superb constructions and delightful matte paintings. They also contain elements like the pop-in hole for the Wicked Witch's arrival in Munchkinland and the working drawbridge in her castle.

The music is... ok. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is an undisputed classic for a reason, it's a perfect combination of whimsy and nostalgia for a place she's never been. "If I Only Had A Brain" is a delightfully play on what it means to be smart, but all of the other versions (Heart and Courage) don't match up. "We're Off To See The Wizard" is iconic as well, but I'd argue that it's more to do with the physical performance than the vocals or music. Look for a reference (or quotation) of "Night on Bald Mountain" in the castle attack for a bit of musical trivia.

This wasn't the first nor will it be the last time I'll watch The Wizard of Oz. There's so much good here that some sub-par songs don't hurt it as much as they might.