Striking terror into the souls of young children since 1939
August 15, 2017
“Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” – so asked Glinda of Dorothy when the latter dropped a house into Munchkinland during the classic film “The Wizard of Oz.”
It was August 15, 1939 when the film premiered and, despite costing more to produce than it took in during its theatre run, has become a classic. In fact, it was named by the American Film Institute as the number one fantasy film ever made.
Nominated for six Academy Awards it lost out to Gone With the Wind for best picture. It did win two other awards, however, including best song for the instantly recognizable “Over The Rainbow.”
The film was heralded from the very beginning. From the infallible Wikipedia:
“The film received much acclaim upon its release. Frank Nugent considered the film a ‘delightful piece of wonder-working which had the youngsters’ eyes shining and brought a quietly amused gleam to the wiser ones of the oldsters. Not since Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has anything quite so fantastic succeeded half so well.’ Nugent had issues with some of the film’s special effects, writing, ‘with the best of will and ingenuity, they cannot make a Munchkin or a Flying Monkey that will not still suggest, however vaguely, a Singer’s Midget in a Jack Dawn masquerade. Nor can they, without a few betraying jolts and split-screen overlappings, bring down from the sky the great soap bubble in which Glinda rides and roll it smoothly into place.’ According to Nugent, ‘Judy Garland’s Dorothy is a pert and fresh-faced miss with the wonder-lit eyes of a believer in fairy tales, but the Baum fantasy is at its best when the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion are on the move.’”
One of my earliest memories is when the film was first broadcast on TV. My family lived in Clarkston, Washington the year I was four and it may have been the first year we had a TV in the house. I do know that my dad made popcorn and we all sat down to watch the movie. Which went pretty well right up to the point that the flying monkey’s made their appearance; I was so afraid I left the room and didn’t see the rest of the movie! Of course I did eventually see the whole movie many, many times and loved our family’s annual tradition to watch it.
The whole story of how the movie was made is a good read. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wizard_of_Oz_(1939_film)
I’m off to see the wizard!