The Wizard of Oz



   Just try and stay out of my way. Just try! I'll get you, my pretty and

            your little dog too!


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, Hickory, Hunk and Zeke. Shortly before the movie begins, the irascible townswoman, Miss Almira Gulch (Margaret Hamilton) is bitten by Dorothy's dog, Toto. Dorothy is upset that Miss 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 sheriff's order and takes Toto away to be destroyed possibly by euthanasia. 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 a fortune teller named Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan). He is a kind and lovable man who guesses that Dorothy is running away and feels unappreciated at home and he 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.

A confused Dorothy seems to awaken a few minutes later to discover the house has been caught up in the twister. Moments later, the twister drops the house back onto solid ground. Opening the door and stepping into full three-strip Technicolor, Dorothy finds herself in a village and parkland of unearthly beauty. Glinda, the Good Witch of the North (Billie Burke), arrives magically via bubble. She informs Dorothy that she is in Munchkinland and that she has killed the ruby-slippered Wicked Witch of the East by "dropping a house" on her.

Encouraged by Glinda, the timid Munchkins come out of hiding to celebrate the demise of the witch, while singing "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" and proclaiming Dorothy as their national heroine. The Wicked Witch of the West (also played by Margaret Hamilton), makes a startling appearance claiming the powerful ruby slippers. Glinda magically transfers the slippers from the dead witch onto Dorothy's feet and reminds the Witch of the West that her power is ineffectual in Munchkinland. The witch vows revenge on Dorothy before leaving the same way she arrived. Glinda advises Dorothy to seek the help of the mysterious Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City in her quest to return home to Kansas. Glinda explains that Dorothy can find Emerald City by following the yellow brick road. She also advises Dorothy that she must never remove the slippers or she will be at the mercy of the Wicked Witch of the West.

On her way to the city, Dorothy meets a Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) with no brain, a Tin Man (Jack Haley) with no heart and a Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) (these characters are portrayed by the same actors as the farm hands back in Kansas). The three decide to accompany Dorothy to the Wizard in hopes of obtaining their desires. Along the way, they behave in various ways which demonstrate that they already have the qualities they think they lack: the Scarecrow has several good ideas, the Tin Man is kind and sympathetic and the Lion is ready to face danger even though he is terrified. The group reaches Emerald City, where they are greeted kindly. The group talks to the Wizard of Oz, a disembodied and imposing head with a booming voice, who says that he will consider granting their wishes if they can bring him the broomstick of the Wicked Witch.

On their way to the witch's castle, they are attacked by a gang of flying monkeys who carry Dorothy and Toto away and deliver her to the witch. The Witch demands that Dorothy hand over the ruby slippers. After the witch threatens to drown Toto in the river, Dorothy agrees to give her the shoes, but a shower of sparks prevents their removal. The witch says that the shoes cannot be removed unless Dorothy dies. While the witch is distracted, Toto takes the opportunity to escape. The witch then locks Dorothy in a chamber and leaves to consider how to kill Dorothy without damaging the shoes' magic. Toto finds Dorothy's friends and leads them to the castle. Once inside, they free Dorothy and attempt an escape. The witch and her Winkie soldiers corner the group on a parapet, where the witch sets the Scarecrow's arm on fire. To douse the flames, Dorothy throws water on them while accidentally splashing water on the horrified witch, causing her to melt. To the group's surprise, the soldiers are delighted. Their captain (Mitchell Lewis) gives Dorothy the broomstick in gratitude as the heroes begin their journey back to the Emerald City.

Upon their return to Emerald City, Toto exposes the great and powerful wizard as a fraud; they find an ordinary man hiding behind a curtain operating a giant console which contains a group of buttons and levers. They are outraged at the deception, but the wizard solves their problems through common sense and a little double talk rather than magic. He explains that they already had what they had been searching for all along and only need things such as medals and diplomas to confirm that someone else recognizes it.

The wizard explains that he, too, was born in Kansas and his presence in Oz was the result of an escaped hot air balloon. He promises to take Dorothy home in the same balloon, leaving the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion in charge of Emerald City. Just before takeoff, Toto sees a cat and jumps out of the balloon's basket. Dorothy jumps out to catch him and the wizard, unable to control the balloon, leaves without her. She is resigned to spend the rest of her life in Oz until Glinda appears and tells her that she has always had the power to return home, through the power of the ruby slippers. Glinda explains that she did not tell Dorothy at first because she needed to find out for herself that she doesn't need to run away to find heart's desire.

Dorothy says a tearful goodbye to the friends she has met in Oz and then follows Glinda's instructions to get home, which consist of closing her eyes, tapping her heels together 3 times and chanting "There's no place like home." Back in sepia tone, she awakens in her bedroom in Kansas (still chanting "There's no place like home," in her sleep) surrounded by family and friends and tells them of her journey. Everyone laughs and tells her it was all a dream, except Uncle Henry, who says sympathetically "Of course we believe you, Dorothy." Toto appears and jumps onto the bed. A happy Dorothy, still convinced the journey was real, hugs Toto and says one last time, "There's no place like home."




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Directed by Victor Fleming
Mervyn LeRoy
Richard Thorpe
King Vidor
Produced by Mervyn LeRoy
Arthur Freed
Written by Noel Langley
Florence Ryerson
Edgar Allan Woolf
Starring Judy Garland
Frank Morgan
Ray Bolger
Bert Lahr
Jack Haley
Billie Burke
Margaret Hamilton
Charley Grapewin
Music by Herbert Stothart
Harold Arlen
E. Y. Harburg
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) August 15, 1939
Running time 103 mins.
Language English
Budget $2,777,000