Movie Musical Challenge, I'm watching all 25 picks for AFI's Greatest musicals starting from the bottom. Number 3 is the classic film The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland and three lovable character actors. Oh and a dog!
It's been a very long time since I watched The Wizard of Oz. And you know what I realized watching it again now? It's really good. I forgot! Not like 'better-than-The-Sound-of-Music-good, let's not get crazy, but totally deserving of the number 3 spot.
I want to take a moment to talk about Judy Garland. When I started my Gene Kelly obsession a few years ago, I also started seeing more of Judy Garland since he did three films with her. (Summer Stock is my fave of the three he did with her btw). And also with this challenge, I've seen Judy in two more films, so I felt like I was pretty familiar with her as an actress, but I never really fell in love with her in a way that made me want to see more of her films. But now watching The Wizard of Oz again after so many years, I get the obsession with her. It's first of all startling to see her so young and innocent, but then again she's also so perfect in the role. So effervescent and yet quintessentially Judy. And her voice is amazing. I got chills when "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" started. It's perhaps most intriguing now to watch this and look back on her other films to see how she developed as an actress. Of course there's a lot of tragedy there too, but with The Wizard of Oz at least, you know that she is what she seems on screen. And all of that innocence and sense of wonder is glorious in the film. Judy is just captivating as Dorothy.
I remembered that the three farm hands in the beginning would make an appearance in Dorothy's "dream" as the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, but I forgot how much it's foreshadowed by their dialogue and actions in Kansas. I thought that was fun - and it reminded me of how they do a similar thing in the musical Wicked. Great tie-in to the film, Wicked! The three actors (despite all the agonies that apparently went on with the costumes and the filming) are exceedingly likable and really provide so much heart to the story. It's been even longer since I read the Baum book, but from what I gather, they really simplified the story of the film to make it about Dorothy's self-discovery about the importance of home, and the three characters as her companions and friends were just so sweet.
Probably if I had to pick a favorite scene it would be the Somewhere Over the Rainbow sequence, although I have a very soft spot for the Tin Man's "If I Only Had a Heart" song. I've always liked his version of the song the best. It's the romantic in me I guess.
This film is lyrical in it's construction, wonderful in all it's technicolor glory, with some truly inspiring performances from the entire cast. I can't believe it's taken me so long to rediscover my appreciation for this lovely film, despite how deeply embedded it is in pop culture.
Now it will be even more interesting to watch the live musical of The Wiz that NBC is putting on next month. (I've never really liked The Wiz though)
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