Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Wizard of Oz



The Wizard of Oz (70th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]

The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was directed primarily by Victor Fleming. Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf received credit for the screenplay, but there were uncredited contributions by others. The lyrics for the songs were written by E.Y. Harburg, the music by Harold Arlen. Incidental music, based largely on the songs, was by Herbert Stothart, with borrowings from classical composers.

Based on the 1900 children's novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, the film stars Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Frank Morgan, with Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charley Grapewin, Clara Blandick and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins. Notable for its use of special effects, Technicolor, fantasy storytelling and unusual characters, It has become, over the years, one of the best known of all films. It is far and away the best-known version of L. Frank Baum's book, perhaps even eclipsing the fame of the novel itself.

Although it received largely positive reviews, won two Academy Awards, and was nominated for Best Picture of the Year (losing to Gone with the Wind), it was initially a box office failure. The film was MGM's most expensive production up to that time, but its initial release failed to recoup the studio's investment. Subsequent re-releases made up for that, however. "Over the Rainbow" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and the film itself received several Academy Award nominations.

Telecasts of it began in 1956, re-introducing the film to the public and eventually becoming an annual tradition, making it one of the most famous films ever made. The film was named the most-watched motion picture in history by the Library of Congress, is often ranked among the Top 10 Best Movies of All Time in various critics' and popular polls, and is the source of many memorable quotes referenced in modern popular culture.

* Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale
* Frank Morgan as Professor Marvel / Doorman / Cabbie / Guard / The Wizard
* Ray Bolger as Hunk / Scarecrow
* Jack Haley as Hickory / Tin Man
* Bert Lahr as Zeke / Cowardly Lion
* Billie Burke as Glinda the Good Witch of the North
* Margaret Hamilton as Miss Almira Gulch / The Wicked Witch of the West
* Clara Blandick as Aunt Em
* Charley Grapewin as Uncle Henry
* Pat Walshe as Nikko (the Head Flying Monkey)
* Terry as Toto (Credited as Toto in the film)
* The Singer Midgets as the Munchkins
* Mitchell Lewis as the Winkie Guard' Captain (uncredited)


None of the Singer Midgets' actual voices are heard in the film; their vocalizations were dubbed by professional singers and voice actors, including Pinto Colvig, Abe Dinovitch and Billy Bletcher, and singing groups The King's Men, The Debutantes and Ken Darby Singers. Although the Wicked Witch's guards spoke their own dialogue, their singing was also dubbed by others and was slowed down. Adriana Caselotti voiced Juliet, and Abe Dinovitch & Candy Candido voiced the Apple Trees.

Pat Walshe was the last surviving significant member of the cast when he died in December 1991, aged 91. Meinhardt Raabe was one of the last surviving Munchkin actors, and the last surviving cast member with any dialogue when he died in April 2010, aged 94

All of the Oz sequences were filmed in three-strip Technicolor. The opening and closing credits, as well as the Kansas sequences, were filmed in black and white and colored in a sepia tone process. Sepia-toned film was also used in the scene where Aunt Em appears in the Wicked Witch's crystal ball.

In his book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum describes Kansas as being 'in shades of gray'. Further, Dorothy lived inside a farmhouse which had its paint blistered and washed away by the weather, giving it an 'air of grayness'. The house and property were situated in the middle of a sweeping prairie where the grass was burnt gray by harsh sun. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry were 'gray with age'. Effectively, the use of monochrome sepia tones for the Kansas sequences was a stylistic choice that evoked the dull and gray countryside.[citation needed] Much attention was given to the use of color in the production, with the MGM production crew favoring some hues over others. Consequently, it took the studio's art department almost a week to settle on the final shade of yellow used for the Yellow Brick Road

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