Matinee Monday: The Wizard of Oz, 1939


I’ve taken a short break from most of my writing for the blog, and that included writing about my favorite topic, old movies. After lazing about for a couple of week, I seem to be building up another head of steam and am thinking of topics for future posts, and so I’ll begin with an installment of Matinee Monday.

I’ve been writing about the films of 1939, beginning with the ten movies that were nominated for Best Picture. One that I haven’t mentioned, and is the elephant in the room, is the monster hit, The Wizard of Oz. While Gone With The Wind was chosen as Best Picture that year (and won just about every other award), I think it’s safe to say that The Wizard of Oz is much more popular, and certainly much more a part of our culture than GWTW could ever be.

Back in February, when in the early stages of doing these movie posts, I wrote about the song that was made famous by The Wizard of Oz, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” To write about the movie and settle on any one aspect of the film would be impossible. The Wizard of Oz is probably the most widely loved of all films, reaching as it does to all ages, whether it be through appeal to childish fantasy, to mature audiences by dealing with the idea of lost dreams, and even the true meaning of life.

I can’t think of a film that is more analyzed, frame by frame, and has every aspect of its production written about, commented on, etc. After all, the fact that Buddy Ebsen (Jed, of The Beverly Hillbillies) was originally cast as The Tin Man and nearly died because the aluminum powder from his make-up got into his lungs is widely known and written about. The Munchkins? How about numerous documentaries and books about the little people who portrayed the Munchins? (There was even a feature movie made about the events entitled Under The Rainbow, if I’m not mistaken.)

Garland not the first choice? Frank Morgan buying an old frock coat in a thrift store to be part of the Wizard’s costume, and finding L. Frank Baum’s name in it? “The Jitterbug” and extended jazz dance scene by Ray Bolger left on the cutting room floor? Memorabilia selling at record prices? Where do you begin? Of all the Oscar-nominated films of 1939, not one comes close to inspiring love, affection and nostalgia as The Wizard of Oz. I could write five posts about it, and not cover it sufficiently.

I guess that when many of us try to think of something that appeals to us, we have to agree with Dorothy’s assessment of the Cowardly Lion, at the end, when she says she’s going to miss the way he cried for help when he was frightened. I think that beside the fact that the initials were the same (CL), the reason I chose Cowardly Lion as my Twitter avatar is because his use of language during his “Courage” speech just makes me smile:


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