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wizard of oz poster

The Wizard of Oz

Starring Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin and the Munchkins
Screenplay by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf
Based on the novels by L. Frank Baum
Directed by Victor Fleming
Website: www.thewizardofoz.com

IN SHORT: Anyone ever notice that the Scarecrow, post brain, still gets the Pythagorean theorem wrong???

OK, you've all been complaining that I haven't been cranky enough in these reviews for the last few months. So I decided to fix that at the very next movie I sat through, which just happened to be a restored edition of the 1939 flick The Wizard Of Oz.

Let me see if I've got this straight. A runaway lawbreaker from Kansas, and her mangy dog, too, illegally enters a foreign land, kills an innocent witch who just happened to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time and then runs off in the departed's ruby red slippers. This girl, who uses the nom-de-crime Dorothy (Judy Garland), then enlists the aid of a heart-less Tin Man (Jack Haley), a spine-less Lion (Bert Lahr) and a witless Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) to assist her in killing the witch's sister. All the while she's under the protection of the almost Omnipotent Glinda (Billie Burke), a "good" witch (ha! So "good" she stole the ruby slippers first!), and the less potent Wizard of Oz (Frank Morgan).

Like you haven't been watching the story on teevee year after year after year. . .

This is the 60th anniversary of the making of the film, based on a story that was 40 or so years old at the time. Sum total anniversary for the story, then, is somewhere around a hundred years. The original three color Technicolor negatives have been cleaned up and digitally remastered along with a restored framing sequence (the original negs burned up back in the 1970s) and a Dolby enhanced soundtrack from the original orchestral recordings. It's the same treatment that was given to Gone With The Wind, re-released earlier this year, and the flick looks much larger on the big screen. Cranky met the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) a year before she passed away, and I can speak truthfully that she is much larger on screen than she ever was in real life, too. She barely reached my shoulder height. And while Cranky couldn't get up early enough on a Saturday morning to see Wizard with a roomful of kidlets, he did make it to a mid-afternoon showing, packed with a whole passel of gay reviewers. Don't even ask about scary . . .

OK, I've filled enough room for this thing.

As a matter of course, Cranky doesn't rate revivals or re-releases, but I know that if you're reading all about it, you know you're probably going to go see it on the big screen. The only thing ex-soundman Cranky noticed was the incredibly high number of looped dialog passages. Even given the wretched sound recording of the day it was an extraordinarily high amount. Guess it just goes to show what aiming for perfection will get you; a pair of deaf ears that still notice the loops.

The cyclone sequence, now rendered in full surround sound stereo, sound Very Cool.

Ah, heck, I had a great time (and that Bert Lahr still puts me on the floor, every time). Go and enjoy. Then buy the video. And the DVD. And a Judy Garland record.

Or don't and say you did. I don't really care. I've got a dozen three plus hour horrorshows to get through in the next six weeks. I'm entitled to this little bit of fun. So there.

...and the answer to our quiz is: It's a + b = c, not the square roots.

Click to buy films starring Judy Garland
Click to buy books by L. Frank Baum
Click to buy films based on the Oz books

The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.