Gaiety! Glory! Glamour!
Directors - George Cukor, Victor Fleming (credited director), King Vidor

Based on the first book in a series about Oz by L. Frank Baum (which was illustrated by W. W. Denslow) and made into a musical movie in 1939 by MGM Studios, The Wizard of Oz stars a young Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale who dreams of the land over the rainbow.

Living with her Aunty Em and Uncle Henry on a farm in Kansas, Dorothy longs for more friends (other than the farmhands and her dog, Toto) and to not be picked on by Miss Almira Gulch.

"Dorothy? Well, what has Dorothy done?"
"What she's done? I'm all but lame from the bite on my leg!"
"You mean she bit you?"
"No, her dog!"
"Oh, she bit her dog, eh?"

She runs away, taking Toto with her, meeting a strange traveling magician, Professor Marvel, who persuades her to return home. As she arrives back at the farm she is caught in a tornado, she cannot get into the cellar where the farmhands and her aunt and uncle have taken cover, so she hides in her house. The house is ripped up by the tornado and taken to the magical land of Oz.

"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore"

Missing her friends and family, she wants to return to her home farm in Kansas. The only way to do this, she is told by the Good Witch of the North, Glinda, is to visit the Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City.

"But how do I know the way?"
"Why... You just follow the yellow brick road"

Along her journey she meets three others (a scarecrow, a tinman and a lion) who are also looking to better themselves and their lives (the scarecrow wants a brain, the tinman, a heart and the lion, courage). Dorothy also meets adversaries in the form of the Wicked Witch of the West and her henchmen (and, let's not forget, the flying monkeys). When her house landed in Oz, Dorothy killed the Wicked Witch of the East and was given the ruby slippers that the dead witch wore, prompting her sister to seek revenge.

"I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too!"

Having made it to the Emerald City, the Wizard of Oz sets Dorothy a task. She must kill the Wicked Witch of the West. Only then will the Wizard take her home.

The four friends set out, only to have the Wicked Witch kidnap Dorothy and take her to her castle, where she gives Dorothy one hour to give up the ruby slippers - or she will be killed. The scarecrow, the tinman and the lion then dress as henchmen to break in and rescue Dorothy. The Witch catches them and goes to set the scarecrow on fire, Dorothy, having broken out of her cell, pours water on the scarecrow, accidently splashing the Witch and killing her.

"I'm melting. I'm melting!"

The four return to the Emerald City where the Wizard of Oz is revealed to be just a small man, hidden behind a curtain. He still grants the wishes of the scarecrow, the tinman and the lion and promises to take Dorothy home in his hot air balloon. But disaster strikes and Toto leaps out of the basket just as the two are taking off. Dorothy cannot bear to leave him and goes after him, only to watch the Wizard leave without her.

Glinda returns and tells Dorothy that the way home had been on her feet through all the adventure. All she had to do was click her heels three times and say:

"There's no place like home."

She awakes back in Kansas to discover that she had been dreaming all the while.

"What have you learned, Dorothy?"
"Well, I - I think that it - it wasn't enough to just want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em - and it's that - if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?"

Baum could not have predicted the enormous success of his book but his imagination produced many movies, books, cartoons, radio and stage plays, musicals and comics... In fact, the MGM movie came after many other adaptations (although the one we all think of when told the title), including:

  • the first stage adaptation (1902)
  • a multimedia production by Baum himself, using hand-tinted films, slides, live actors, and a full orchestra (1908)
  • A series of one-reelers (The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and the Scarecrow of Oz, The Land of Oz, John Dough and the Cherub) by the Selig Polyscope Company (1910)
  • The Wizard of Oz, co-written by Baum's son, featuring a young Larry Seman and Oliver Hardy (1925)
  • A cartoon directed by Ted Eshbaugh (1933)

Most noteable movie spinoffs, perhaps, were the Disney sequel, Return to Oz (1985), and the 1977 adaptation of the Broadway play, The Wiz, starring Diana Ross and a young Michael Jackson.

The film was one of the first 25 to be added to the USA's National Film Registry in 1989, as an outstanding example ("culturally, historically, or esthetically significant") of an American movie. This means that it cannot be edited or otherwise altered without full disclosure, and only within certain limits.

The main cast:

  • Judy Garland .... Dorothy Gale
  • Frank Morgan (I) .... Professor Marvel/Emerald City Doorman/The Cabbie/The 'Wizard of Oz'
  • Ray Bolger .... Hunk/Scarecrow
  • Jack Haley .... Hickory/Tin Man
  • Bert Lahr .... Zeke/Cowardly Lion
  • Billie Burke .... Glinda, the Good Witch of the North
  • Margaret Hamilton .... Miss Almira Gulch/The Wicked Witch of the West
  • Charley Grapewin .... Uncle Henry Gale
  • Clara Blandick .... Aunt Emily 'Auntie Em' Gale
  • Pat Walshe .... Nikko, the Wicked Witch's Head Winged Monkey

The soundtrack, (written by lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg and Harold Arlen, background and instrumental music by Harold Stothart, vocal arrangements by Ken Darby):

  • Main Title - M-G-M Studio Orchestra & Chorus
  • Over The Rainbow - Judy Garland
  • Cyclone - M-G-M Studio Orchestra
  • Come Out, Come Out... - Billie Burke & The Munchkins
  • It Really Was No Miracle - Judy Garland/Billy Bletcher & The Munchkins
  • We Thank You very Sweetly - Joseph Koziel/Frank Cucksey
  • Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead - The Munchkins
  • As Mayor of the Munchkin City - Billy Bletcher/Pinto Colveg/J.D Jewkes
  • As Coroner, I Must Aver - Harry Stanton
  • Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead (reprise) - The Munchkins
  • The Lullaby League - Lorraine Bridges/Betty Rome/Carol Tevis
  • The Lollipop Guild - Billy Bletcher/Pinto Colveg/Harry Stanton
  • We Welcome You to Munchkinland - The Munchkins
  • Follow the Yellow Brick Road/You're Off to See the Wizard - Judy Garland/The Munchkins
  • If I Only Had A Brain (extended version) - Ray Bolger/Judy Garland
  • We're Off To See The Wizard (duo) - Judy Garland/Ray Boger
  • If I Only Had A Heart (extended version) - Judy Garland/Ray Bolger
  • We're Off To See The Wizard (trio) - Bert Lahr/Ray Bolger,Buddy Ebsen
  • If I only had the Nerve - Ray Bolger/Jack Haley/Judy Garland
  • We're Off To See The Wizard (quartet) - Judy Garland/Roy Bolger/Buddy Ebsen/Bert Lahr
  • Optimistic Voices - M-G-M Studio Orchestra/The Debutantes/The Rhythmettes
  • The Merry Old Land Of Ozz - Frank Morgan/Judy Garland/Ray Bolger/Jack Haley/Bert Lahr/Tyler Brook/Ralph Sudam/Boby Watson/Ol....
  • If I were King of The Forest (extended version) - Bert Lahr/Judy Garland/Ray Bolger/Jack Haley/Buddy Ebsen
  • The Jitterbug (outtake) - Judy Garland/Ray Bolger/Jack Haley/Buddy Ebsen/Bert Lahr
  • Ding Dong! Emerald City (outtake) - Ken Darby/The M-G-M Studio Orchestra & Chorus
  • Delirious Escape (extended version)/Delirous Escape Continued/End Title - The M-G-M Studio Orchestra
Track listing taken from "The Wizard Of Oz: Selections From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack"

The MGM version of the book is the most watched film of all time. With the Kansas sequences filmed in sepia tones (although until recently this was only seen in the original 1939 release, mostly we think of the opening and ending as being in black and white) and the scenes in Oz in gloriously bright Technicolor. From the tiniest detail to the colours used, from the costumes to the music the film is a joy to behold and to watch time and time again.

Sources: (This site is a mine of imformation and I highly recommend a vist to find out more)