Note: This Week in the Box is a year-long series where Sam works through the entire Warner Brothers 50 Film Collection box set. To find reviews of the other films in the series and see the complete list, click here.
This Week in the Box (or rather, last week in the box, as I’m running behind in getting these posted) is a low-budget indie you may not have heard of, a small picture by the name of The Wizard of Oz.
Unfortunately, when a film has been around for 65 years and become as much of a cultural touchstone as The Wizard of Oz has, it’s hard to find anything new to say about it. I’ll keep this short and sweet.
First, Dorothy is a ninny at the start of the movie. The evil Mrs. Gulch comes storming in, demanding that Toto be put down. Dorothy throws herself in front of Toto to defend him from the Terrible, Outrageous Woman trying to destroy her life. But– what I didn’t remember from watching this as a kid– Mrs. Gulch’s complaints were that he gets in her garden all the time (Dorothy denies this, saying it’s only once or twice a week at most) and that Toto actually bit her (Mrs. Gulch). Now, I’m admittedly a cat person, but if a dog were digging in my garden every week, sometimes multiple times a week, and then that dog bit me, you’d best believe I would be having words with the owner of that dog. I’m not advocating putting animals down for anything short of terminal illness, but Mrs. Gulch’s demand for retribution doesn’t seem unreasonable from her perspective.
Other than that, this is actually a delightful movie. The degree of cultural saturation it’s attained doesn’t detract at all from the wonder and fantasy at all, to my pleasant surprise. The elaborate set design and costumes and huge cast are fun. Recommended