Classic 1 Star Reviews of Classic Movies — The Wizard of Oz

There’s something funny about people taking the time to write 1 star reviews of classic films, but in this case, the film is both classic and benign: The Wizard of Oz (ranked #10 on the AFI list of best 100 American movies).

On with the show:

The only reason to ever watch the Wizard of Oz is if you are playing Dark Side of the Moon at the same time. (after the third lion roar start up dark side.)

I do not like the Wizard of Oz. For one thing, I don’t like to watch things with witches in them, especially if one of them is portrayed as a “good witch” – that’s an oxymoron I can’t reconcile with. For another thing I don’t like Judy Garland’s breathless diction or Frank Morgan – The star I give this goes exclusively to the Tin Man, who was always my favourite and still is. But I can’t stand sitting through this movie just to watch him, though I might if I could fast forward the other parts. It’s all just such fantasy fluff, and I like something that has a bit more reality to it. This falls perilously short of the mark. Don’t bother with it.

Irony high and irony low.

Low irony: the soporific singing, combined with a pure-schmaltz storyline, guaranteed box office failure for every theater release and re-release of this film. “Just as good the fifteenth time as it is the first.” Of course, the movie has had outstanding success on television. TV success: Bravo!

High irony: the didactic and gold-plated Message that “there’s no place like home” takes more time to deliver on the bonus material of the DVD edition than the movie itself. Some bonus! Of course this message, like all “Messages to Wayward Children,” is beyond any child’s care or understanding.

This is not a film for children, rather, one for the “child inside every one of us.” One might well subject our inner-child to serial viewings (“Just as good the fifteenth time as it is the first”) in a futile attempt to hammer home the Message. No actual child would willingly submit to such torture.

This film is troublesome on too many counts to list here but I will try.

First, the story is implausible. Oz is not the sort of place children dream of, usually they dream of running or flying or getting lost. The “Oz” story was already a tired conventional hackneyed subject and should never have been filmed in the first place.

The characters are argumentative and malicious, bogged down in their own fantasies and “needs”. No child is going to relate to a woodsman, let alone a woodsman who has had limbs cut off one by one and replaced by tin. (By the way, I never once believed he was made of tin.)

When singing is employed in film, it should be in the background; the characters should not be lipsyncing to the music unless there is a radio playing in the background.

The concept of a “straw man” refers to a malignant red herring thrown into an argument to confuse the debate. Children are not going to pick up on this, and those that do are too intelligent to be watching movies like this.

The fixation with Judy Garland — why? Plain, too fat, simpering and controversial. She had — too put it mildly — a bawdy life as a teenager, and was held high as a role model until the Troubles began. If children read her life’s story, their blood would curdle. Who needs that?

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