The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 adventure fantasy film directed by Victor Fleming and written by Noel Langley and Florence Ryerson. It stars Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, Ray Bolger as Hunk/The Scarecrow, Jack Haley as Hickory/The Tin Man, Bert Lahr as Zeke/The Cowardly Lion, Margaret Hamilton as Miss Gulch/The Wicked Witch of the West and Frank Morgan as Professor Marvel/The Wizard of Oz.
It is based on the 1900 children's fantasy novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
This film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but lost to Gone With the Wind. However, it won two others, including Best Song for "Over the Rainbow", which has also been ranked as number one on the top movie songs list compiled by the American Film Institute (AFI). The Wizard of Oz has been ranked as number six on AFI's top movie list, number three on its top musical list, and number one on its best fantasy movies list.
In the film, a tornado carries Dorthy Gale away from her Kansas home to the magical Land of Oz. She is told that her only hope of getting home is to travel to the Emerald City to seek help from the Wizard. On the way, she meets and befirends the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, who join her in the hope of receiving a brain, a heart and courage from the Wizard respectively. Dorothy and her friends also face danger from a wicked witch. The scenes set in Kansas at the beginning and end of the film are in black and white. The scenes which take place in Oz are in color.
On its first release, The Wizard of Oz was rated "Approved" by the Motion Picture Association of America. On its various re-releases in different formats in the United States, it has been rated both G and PG at different times. It is rated as being suitable for all audiences in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
Dorothy Gale lives on a farm in Kansas with her Uncle Henry, Aunt Em and the farmhands Hunk, Hickory and Zeke. At the beginning of the film, she runs home, complaining that her dog Toto has been hit with a rake by the mean Miss Gulch, although nobody on the farm seems to be interested in her story. Miss Gulch arrives shortly afterwards. She says that Toto bit her and, consequently, she has obtained papers ordering that the dog be destroyed. She puts Toto in a basket and leaves with him on her bicycle, although the dog soon escapes and runs back to Dorothy. So that Miss Gulch will not return for Toto, Dorothy decides to take her dog and run away from home. She meets the traveling showman Professor Marvel, who says that he has performed before the crowned heads of Europe. Dorothy begs the showman to take her with him but, pretending to consult a crystal ball, Professor Marvel leads Dorothy to believe that her Aunt Em is ill and that she should go back to her.
As Dorothy leaves Professor Marvel's wagon, a storm begins. By the time that she has returned home, a tornado is coming. Uncle Henry, Aunt Em, Hunk, Hickory and Zeke hide in a storm cellar but Dorothy is unable to get inside it in time. The house with Dorothy and Toto inside is carried away by the strong wind. Through the window of her house, Dorothy sees Miss Gulch on her bicycle being carried away by the wind, before the woman suddenly changes into a witch flying on a broomstick.
Dorothy's house comes down in Munchkinland in the Land of Oz. Dorothy is greeted by an attractive woman who says that she is Glinda the Good Witch of the North. Glinda tells Dorothy that her house landed on top of the Wicked Witch of the East and killed her. The Munchkins are delighted to finally be rid of the evil witch who terrorized them for so long. However, the witch's sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, soon appears to claim her sister's Ruby Slippers. Glinda magically moves the slippers to Dorothy's feet before the wicked witch can take them. Having been reminded that she has no power in Munchkinland, the Wicked Witch of the West vanishes.
Dorothy asks Glinda how she can return home to Kansas. She is told that her only hope is to follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City and ask for help from its ruler, the Wizard of Oz. On the way, Dorothy meets and befriends the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. They join Dorothy on her journey, hoping that the Wizard can give them a brain, a heart and courage respectively.
The Wicked Witch of the West is still angry with Dorothy for having killed her sister and wants to take her Ruby Slippers. She tries to put the girl to sleep by creating a field of deadly poppies. However, Glinda saves Dorothy by making it snow, thus destroying the poppies' power.
Dorothy and her companions arrive in the Emerald City and are granted an audience with the Wizard of Oz. The Wizard, taking the form of an enormous head, tells them that he will only help them if they bring him the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West. In order to obtain the broom, they will have to kill the witch.
On the journey to the witch's castle, Dorothy and her friends are attacked by flying monkeys. The monkeys capture Dorothy and Toto and take them to the Wicked Witch of the West. The witch tries in vain to remove Dorothy's Ruby Slippers before deciding that she will have to kill the girl in order to take them. Toto escapes and leads the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion to the witch's castle. They beat up three of the castle's guards, so that they can take their uniforms and gain entrance to the castle. They rescue Dorothy from the room where the witch has imprisoned her but are then chased and eventually cornered by the witch's soldiers.
The Wicked Witch of the West announces that she will kill all of them, leaving Dorothy until last. She throws a ball of fire at the Scarecrow. Dorothy throws a bucket of water at him to stop the fire. Some of the water splashes the witch, causing her to slowly melt away to nothing. The witch's soldiers are delighted to be rid of their evil mistress and gladly give Dorothy her broomstick.
The Wizard of Oz is surprised when Dorothy and her friends return after completing the seemingly impossible task that he set them. He tells them to leave and come back the next day. Toto tugs at a curtain, revealing a man projecting the image of a giant head. The man is the true Wizard of Oz, an ordinary man from Kansas with no magical powers who was brought to Oz in a hot-air balloon.
The Wizard assures the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion that they already have brains, a heart and courage but he gives them a diploma, a "ticker" (a heart-shaped pocket watch) and a medal to prove it. The wizard decides to go back to Kansas with Dorothy in his balloon, appointing the Scarecrow as the new ruler of the Emerald City before he leaves. Just before the balloon takes off, Toto jumps out to chase after a cat. Dorothy runs after him but returns to find that the balloon is leaving without them.
Glinda appears and tells Dorothy that she has the power to return home and that she has had it almost from the moment that she arrived in Oz. She simply has to click the heels of her Ruby Slippers together three times and say, "There's no place like home". Glinda tells Dorothy that she did not reveal that information earlier because she wanted the girl to learn that she did not need to run away from home in order to find her heart's desire. Dorothy says a tearful farewell to her friends before using the magical Ruby Slippers to return home.
The scene then shifts back to Kansas. It is revealed that Dorothy was knocked out during the storm and that the Oz sequence was all a dream. Dorothy recognizes Hunk, Hickory, Zeke and Professor Marvel as having been with her in the Land of Oz as the scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Wizard.
The fate of Toto remains unresolved at the end of the movie. Although the Wicked Witch of the West, who resembled her, has been killed, the audience is not told if anything has happened to Miss Gulch, who woud still have permission for the dog to be destroyed.
- Video of the 1910 silent movie The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (now in the public domain)
- Scarecrow costume
- Cowardly lion costume
- Tin man costume
- Animatronic Wicked Witch of the West