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The Wizard of Oz (1939) (TheaterByte Classic Film Review)

The Wizard of Oz (1939)The Wizard of Oz revolves around a girl named Dorothy who, after a tornado hits her farm in Kansas, wakes up in a magical world named Oz and we see her trying to find her way back home as she finds a group of friends, the Cowardly Lions, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow, each searching for aid from the powerful Wizard of Oz.


The plot is well structured and tailored to kids, who will find interesting all the mysterious, magical creatures in that utopian world or they may sympathize with Dorothy. Also it is obvious the music element in this movie. Many times feelings or dialogues are expressed through songs, which appear to be one of the basic characteristics of the film. This means that if you love musicals, unlike me, then you will enjoy some of its aspects. We see the Dorothy at the beginning having a small argument with her Aunt and Uncle and then the next after the tornado day she awakes in another dimension that looks very odd to her. This world has many animals and inanimate objects talking and witches, both good and wicked. She is welcomed by those new people and she tells them her plans of going home. In order for this to happen, she needs to find the Wizard of Oz. On her way to his castle she makes some new friends that are also interested in having things changed in themselves and the adventure continues. This unfortunately happens for more than half of the 1 hour and 52 minutes duration, but finally the most interesting part begins when they reach the Emerald City and have to complete the final task to get what they want.


  • Dorothy is childish, because of her young age and loves her dog Toto a lot. It is her best friend from the beginning till the end of this journey and one of the reasons why everything started.
  • The Scarecrow becomes Dorothy’s best friend in the magical world. His only complaint is that he does not have a brain, which is one of the elements that makes him different from the others.
  • The Cowardly Lion is a lion, the king of the jungle, who is the exact opposite of what is expected from him to be. He constantly feels frightened and wants to deal with this fear he feels all the time.
  • The Tin Man is a former human who was turned into a human with tin parts. But what makes him incomplete is the lack of a heart.

All those characters gather together and head off on the winding yellow brick road to find the Wizard of Oz to have those issues they have solved.

Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, and Bert Lahr in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, and Bert Lahr in The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • The Wicked Witch of the West is after Dorothy because she wants the shoes she wears, as they make her powerful and the shoes belonged to her sister. When Dorothy arrived in Oz, her house landed on the Wicked Witch’s sister and killed her. The Wicked Witch of the West is loathed and everyone is afraid of her.
  • Glinda is a good witch and Dorothy’s guardian angel. She is the first person she meets when she wakes up and Glinda often helps Dorothy.


Everyone was excellent in their roles, but I think my favorite acting is delivered by Bert Lahr, who plays the Cowardly Lion. There were many funny scenes, while he manages to convey in a successful way the contrasts between a powerful lion and his cowardly ways. Also there were times when I forgot he was an actual human playing an animal role, because he was very convincing.


Direction was very good, though not something special. The only interesting scenes are the ones where we see the main protagonists chased by the witch and her soldiers. They are scary scenes and since we sympathize with Dororhy’s squad we feel unnerved hoping that they will find a way to be saved, either by Glinda, or by some clever maneuvering.


One of the most spectacular aspects of this movie is the cinematography by Harold Rosson. In the first minutes of the movie everything is in a sepia tone black and white. This changes to vivid Technicolor when Dorothy enters the land of Oz, which reminds her nothing of Kansas. The setting is full of rich primary colors — greens, reds, yellows — which can be observed from the roads, the forest and the poppies, to the horses that constantly change color in the Emerald City of the Wizard of Oz. Generally, it seems that colors play an important role in the movie and that can be said by the significance of the poppies, the snow and the castle, which is full of shades of green.


The finale of The Wizard of Oz is down to earth, but somewhat unoriginal. I did not expect  that I would feel bored while watching the movie, but I did. It is a nice one for the time that it was shot, cinematography and acting were fine — very innovative at the time — it is just not my style.

3.2 / 5 TheaterByte Rating
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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)Studios & Distributors
102 Mins.Run Time
1.37:1Aspect Ratio
Victor Fleming | George Cukor (uncredited) | Mervyn LeRoy (uncredited) | Norman Taurog (uncredited) | King Vidor (director: Kansas scenes) (uncredited)Director(s)
Noel Langley (screenplay) | Florence Ryerson (screenplay) | Edgar Allan Woolf (screenplay) | Noel Langley (adaptation) | L. Frank Baum (from the book by)Writer(s)
25 Aug. 1939 (USA)Original Release Date
The Film
Character -- Lead
Character -- Supporting
Dorothy Gale is swept up in tornado from her drab home in Kansas to the magical and colorful world of Oz, where she meets an eclectic group of characters -- a scarecrow, a tin man, and a lion -- all searching for the Wizard of Oz to help them and running from the Wicked Witch of the West in this classic from the Golden Year of Hollywood, 1939.
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