The Wizard of Oz. 1939. USA. Directed by Victor Fleming. 102 min.
Screenplay by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf, based on the book by L. Frank Baum. Music by Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg. With Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Ray Bolger, Margaret Hamilton, Billie Burke. The Wizard of Oz is cinema’s ultimate escapist fantasy (“What can one say about a girl who trips on a yellow brick road?,” film historian Vito Russo once quipped). By the late 1930s, Technicolor’s advanced three-strip process made deep color saturation possible in a wider range of hues, and The Wizard of Oz is widely remembered, and cherished, for this dazzling rainbow palette (audiences looking for a way out of Kansas will still get chills at the film’s momentous transition from Dust Bowl sepia). But in truth, the film’s original release prints were less garish; under the supervision of Technicolor consultant Henri Jaffa, Baum’s Oz was rendered in dreamy shades of yellow, green, and red, most especially with Dorothy’s ruby slippers and the tantalizingly jewel-like Emerald City. 35mm print from George Eastman House; courtesy Warner Bros.