The Wizard of Oz

  • Directors: Victor Fleming, Uncredited, Mervyn LeRoy, Richard Thorpe, King Vidor
  • Producers: Mervyn LeRoy
  • Writers: Novel, L Frank Baum, Screenplay, Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf
  • Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Musical
  • Actors: Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Frank Morgan

The opening and closing credits, as well as the Kansas sequences, were both filmed in black and white and colored in a sepia tone. Orphaned twelve-year-old Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) lives a simple life in rural Kansas with her Aunt Em (Clara Blandick), Uncle Henry (Charles Grapewin) and three colorful farm hands. Shortly before the movie begins, the irascible townswoman, Miss Almira Gulch (Margaret Hamilton) is bitten by Dorothy’s dog, Toto. Dorothy is upset that Ms. Gulch hit Toto over the back of the head with a rake, but her aunt and uncle, as well as the farmhands, are too busy to listen. Miss Gulch shows up with a court order and takes Toto away to be destroyed. Toto escapes and returns to Dorothy, who is momentarily elated. When she realizes that Miss Gulch will soon return, she decides to take Toto and run away. On their journey, Dorothy encounters the charlatan, Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan). He is a kind and lovable man who guesses that Dorothy is running away and feels unappreciated at home, and tricks her into believing Aunt Em is ill, so that she (Dorothy) will return home. As Dorothy leaves, there begin to appear signs of an oncoming storm. She rushes back to the farm’s house just ahead of a sudden tornado. There, she takes shelter inside the house, where she is knocked unconscious by a loose window frame.

For the most part, the movie follows the novel only in a very general way. Many details are omitted or altered, while many of the perils that Dorothy encountered in the novel are not even mentioned in the movie. To take advantage of the new vivid Technicolor process, Dorothy’s silver shoes were changed to ruby slippers for the movie. [5] Due to time restraints, a number of sub-plots from the book, including the China County and the Hammerheads, were cut. The novel also never depicts Dorothy as a damsel in distress to be rescued by her friends, but rather the reverse, with Dorothy, a figure heavily influenced by the feminism of Matilda Joslyn Gage,[citation needed] rescuing her friends. Nevertheless, the film was far more faithful to Baum’s original book than many earlier scripts (see below) or film versions – there were silent versions in 1910 and 1925, and a seven-minute animated cartoon in 1933. The 1939 movie interprets the Oz experience as a dream, in which many of the characters that Dorothy meets represent the people from her home life (such as Miss Gulch, Professor Marvel, and the farmhands, none of which appear in the book). Oz is meant to be a real place in L. Frank Baum’s original novel, one to which Dorothy would return to in the author’s later Oz books, and later provide a refuge for Aunt Em and Uncle Henry when unable to pay the mortgage on the new house that was built after the old one really was carried away by the tornado.