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Warner Home Video presents
The Wizard of Oz (Three-Disc Collector's Edition) (1939)

"She wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself."
- Glinda, the Good Witch of the North (Billie Burke)

Review By: David Krauss  
Published: October 24, 2005

Stars: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton
Other Stars: Charley Grapewin, Clara Blandick
Director: Victor Fleming

MPAA Rating: G for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:41m:36s
Release Date: October 25, 2005
UPC: 012569677050
Genre: fantasy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ A+A+A A+

DVD Review

Almost everyone on the planet has seen The Wizard of Oz, but until now, no one has seen it like this. Using the crystal clear Ultra-Resolution process, Warner Home Video has given this perennial classic yet another magical makeover, scrubbing away layers of debris and decay to reveal the pristine image that always lurked beneath the surface. Yet however vibrant the revitalized image may be, it can never overshadow the innumerable intangibles that make the movie so beloved. Yes, this cadillac edition allows us to view The Wizard of Oz in a dazzlingly new light, but rest assured, it's still the same heartwarming, joyous, tuneful, tear-jerking, thrilling, and universally revered film each and every one of us so fondly remembers.

What is it about Dorothy and her pals that captures our imagination as children and continues to enchant us as adults? The uniquely personal answer has kept The Wizard of Oz at the forefront of our movie-going consciousness for seven decades. Like the film's tornado, a mind-boggling number of themes swirl about this captivating tale of a girl and her dog literally swept off their Kansas farm to a Technicolor fantasyland of Munchkins, Winkies, and witches. Issues of home, family, friendship, independence, and fear enhance the action without intruding upon it. There's far more substance to Oz than might appear on the surface, but director Victor Fleming and screenwriters Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allen Woolf invisibly weave the wisdom of L. Frank Baum's original story into the film without detracting from the unadulterated pleasure of viewing it.

The Wizard of Oz may be one of the most familiar pictures ever made, but it never gets old. Baum's timeless yarn deserves partial credit, but the primary reason we keep returning to Oz is without a doubt the performance of Judy Garland. It's impossible to imagine any other actress as Dorothy or envision a more natural, endearing portrayal. The iconic Over the Rainbow encapsulates Garland's brilliance; just as her pitch in that Oscar-winning song remains perfect throughout, she never strikes a wrong note in her performance. We believe every word she utters, and it's that unvarnished sincerity and genuine warmth that draws us into the story, and keeps us transfixed until the film's memorable last line. Whether she's wide-eyed with wonder, wistfully pining for home, beaming with pride, spunkily confronting adversaries, or tearfully bidding her friends farewell (who doesn't choke up when she tells the Scarecrow, "I think I'll miss you most of all"?), Garland is 100 percent real. That's an all-too-rare quality, yet throughout her 45-year career, the legendary singer-actress was flush with it. Without Judy, Oz would still be a good picture, but it never would have endured.

Garland may be the heart and soul of The Wizard of Oz, but she's not the whole show. The film is a true ensemble piece, with every part perfectly cast and expertly acted. The rubbery Ray Bolger, sentimental Jack Haley, and wonderfully hammy Bert Lahr create terrific camaraderie, and seem to relish their respective roles. (Kids may not warm to Lahr's If I Were King of the Forest, but adults rightly term this number a comic tour de force.) Frank Morgan also excels, playing six roles (can you name them all?) and bringing a unique slant to each of them, while a delightfully ditzy Billie Burke puts her personal stamp on Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. And, of course, what villain in the history of cinema is more frightening than Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West? With her sickly green skin, hook nose, piercing eyes, and nefarious cackling laughter, she still scares the dickens out of children worldwide. Disney villains come and go, but the Wicked Witch of the West remains in an evil class all her own.

For a fantasy film, the score is peerless. The Oscar-winning Over the Rainbow (which almost landed on the cutting room floor) is an unqualified masterpiece, and recently was named the top movie tune of all time by the American Film Institute. But in their other songs, composer Harold Arlen and lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg brilliantly capture the yearning and optimism that pervade The Wizard of Oz. The ebullient Ding! Dong! The Witch Is Dead, bouncy We're Off to See the Wizard, and reflective If I Only Had a Brain strike just the right tone, and help advance the plot as well. Oz may be a family movie, but Arlen's melodies and Harburg's inspired wordplay add a layer of sophistication most films in the genre lack.

Viewing this new DVD, it's hard to imagine The Wizard of Oz was made so long ago, for it still seems so contemporary and relevant. Oh sure, when Dorothy announces at the end of the film that she'll never go looking for her heart's desire beyond her own backyard, and won't leave home ever, ever again, it's tough to reconcile her attitude with today's independent, ambitious ideals. But little else about Oz seems dated. And when we stop and realize the film was produced in 1939—only 12 years after the advent of talkies—our admiration for it grows by leaps and bounds. The lavish sets, intricate costumes, lifelike makeup, and especially the complex special effects continue to impress—quite an achievement in this era of CGI and digital enhancement.

No matter how often we see it, and whether we view it alone or share it with our kids, grandchildren, or a theater full of strangers, The Wizard of Oz is celluloid comfort food, nourishing our soul as it evokes the innocence and warmth of our childhood years like no other film. As the prologue so eloquently states, it's a movie for "the young in heart"—and that means it's a movie for us all, now and always.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: When Warner first released The Wizard of Oz on DVD back in 1999, few fans griped about the transfer. But once the studio began employing the Ultra-Resolution process to spruce up such classic musicals as Easter Parade and The Band Wagon, we all knew it would only be a matter of time before Oz received the same red carpet treatment. The results are, in a word, extraordinary, and exceed even my own lofty expectations. Munchkinland looks like an edible candy field, the yellow brick road bursts with a sunny sheen, and the ruby slippers sparkle like never before. The primary danger in upgrading The Wizard of Oz is over-saturation, but Warner technicians have meticulously modulated the color palette, preserving vibrancy without boosting hue levels to outrageous degrees. Even though we've seen the film countless times, our first glimpse of the Emerald City in this edition is truly breathtaking, and makes us appreciate anew the film's superlative production design. Contrast and clarity are excellent—you can even see Garland's freckles beneath her makeup—and the deep hues add luster to the brightly colored costumes. Fleshtones appear more natural in this version—and that even applies to the witch's pea green skin—and shadow detail in the witch's austere castle is top-notch.

The sepia-toned opening is equally rich, with a wide gray scale and light grain adding texture and warmth to the simple interiors and barren Kansas landscape. The tinting beautifully enhances Garland's big brown eyes, and lends the storm sequence a dusty realism black-and-white can't quite convey. Only a few errant specks dot the transfer, and lines remain sharp but smooth throughout. This is another superior effort from Warner, one that maintains the film's fantasy feel, while sporting a natural look that keeps us focused on the story and its emotions.

Image Transfer Grade: A+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Also a step up from the previous release, the newly remastered 5.1 audio track adds a wealth of atmosphere to the film. Though separation is practically nonexistent—what do we expect from a 1939 movie?—the track possesses a marvelous surround feel, putting us in the thick of Dorothy's adventures. The best enhancement is the solid bass frequencies, which allow us to feel the tornado as well as see it, and add robust accents to Herbert Stothart's memorable (and Oscar-winning) score. The songs also reap rewards from the increased fidelity, with Over the Rainbow enjoying a lovely depth and resonance, and the more lively musical numbers sounding brighter and more dynamic. The familiar dialogue, which many of us can recite from memory, is always clear and comprehendible, and subtle ambient details come through distinctly. Although a slight bit of hiss occasionally can be heard, no pops, crackles, or distortion muck up this clean-as-a-whistle track—quite an achievement for a 66-year-old film.

The big audio news of this release, however, is the inclusion of the film's original mono track, accessible only through the special features menu on the first disc. Although I prefer the more expansive audio field of the 5.1 track, purists will rejoice over the mono option (which also has been freshly scrubbed), and won't mind hunting down this buried treasure one bit. A music-and-effects-only track also resides on Disc 1, and spotlights the true audio wizardry of Oz. For those with the time, it's well worth a listen, too.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 55 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
5 Original Trailer(s)
1 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Deleted Scenes
Isolated Music Score with remote access
5 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Oz and Garland historian John Fricke, featuring archival interviews with the film's cast and crew
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook
  2. Harold Arlen's Home Movies
  3. Outtakes
  4. Special effects tests
  5. Vintage vault featurettes
    Extensive stills gallery
    Jukebox of recording sessions
    1950 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland
    Radio show and promo celebrating The Wizard of Oz
    Off to See the Wizard animated segments
    Four silent adaptations of Oz stories, including The Wizard of Oz (1910), The Magic Cloak of Oz (1914), His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz (1914), and Wizard of Oz (1925)
    1933 cartoon adaptation
Extras Review: A few years ago, Warner released a lavish deluxe edition, single-disc DVD of The Wizard of Oz, which featured several 8x10 glossy stills from the film, as well as a bound copy of the original shooting script. Although many of the extras that adorn that handsome set are also included here, they're now better organized, easier to access, and often embellished with additional material and audio introductions by actress Angela Lansbury. Warner also includes a wealth of brand new supplements exclusive to this collector's edition that focus on both the movie and the book's author, L. Frank Baum.

First up on Disc 1 is an audio commentary, which blends archival reminiscences from such notable Oz figures as Ray Bolger, Margaret Hamilton, Jerry Maren (of the Lollipop Guild), and producer Mervyn LeRoy, with astute and always fascinating observations from John Fricke, arguably the world's foremost expert on both Oz and Judy Garland. "Emceed" by director Sydney Pollack, who identifies the various speakers, the commentary offers a broad perspective, and greatly enriches the Oz experience. We learn from Barbara Saltzman, daughter of associate producer Arthur Freed, that Garland was always the first choice for Dorothy, and original Tin Man Buddy Ebsen (who was replaced by Jack Haley after the aluminum powder used in the character's makeup caused a serious allergic reaction) recalls how the MGM brass never believed he was sick, even as he lay near death in a hospital oxygen tent. With priceless self-deprecation, Hamilton charmingly recounts how she was cast in the film, and Maren remembers with glee his first encounter with the other "little people" who would portray the Munchkins.

Fricke, however, rightfully dominates the track, and imparts an absorbing mix of facts, anecdotes, and trivia in a relaxed, conversational manner. For instance, did you know that 2,300 sequins adorn each ruby slipper? Or that the Wicked Witch of the West had more lines cut than any other character? Fricke—who's a walking Oz encyclopedia—notes that Toto was stepped on and injured by a witch's guard; that MGM recycled footage from the tornado sequence in other films; and that director King Vidor (who shot the Kansas sequences) added fluid movement to Over the Rainbow (an innovative choice at the time). He also divulges special effects secrets, and relates the tale of Frank Morgan accidentally discovering the name L. Frank Baum embroidered in the pocket of a thrift shop coat he wore as Professor Marvel. Although it's rewarding to hear from so many people directly involved with the film, Fricke is such a bottomless well of information, one wishes Warner would have given him a track all to himself.

Also on Disc 1, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook pays tribute to L. Frank Baum's original tale with a (very) abridged reading by Lansbury. The 10-minute film employs a mobile camera to roam across the original illustrations of W.W. Denslow, and even animates several of them for added visual impact. A great way to introduce youngsters to Baum's Oz series, this storybook benefits from Lansbury's soothing voice and enthusiastic delivery, both of which make it interesting to adults, too.

Prettier Than Ever: The Restoration of Oz offers a step-by-step account of the painstaking refurbishment of this classic film, as well as a tutorial on the Ultra-Resolution process. Thankfully, The Wizard of Oz has been well-protected over the years, so the movie's core elements were in good shape when Warner technicians began "peeling away layers" in an effort to achieve the "full gamut of film resolution." These dedicated craftsmen discuss the myriad challenges they faced, the tedium of the process, and how the enhanced resolution exposes the production's detailed artistry. Although a bit technical at times, the 11-minute featurette breaks down the restoration into understandable terms, and also addresses the remastering of the soundtrack. For the true film buff, this is fascinating stuff.

The last supplement on Disc 1, We Haven't Really Met Properly… presents nine biographical sketches (each running about two minutes) of Oz principals and supporting actors, all narrated by Lansbury. We learn about Frank Morgan's two-decade tenure as one of Hollywood's top character actors; the impressive stage work of Ray Bolger and Bert Lahr; Jack Haley's extensive charity work; the "ageless elegance" of Billie Burke, and her marriage to impresario Florenz Ziegfeld; the inherent sweetness of Margaret Hamilton; Charley Grapewin's literary talent; Clara Blandick's resumé of more than 100 films; and Toto's illustrious post-Oz career. Each installment is entertaining, slickly produced, and liberally sprinkled with film clips, but conspicuously absent from the gallery is Judy Garland. Yes, it would be difficult to encapsulate Garland's magnificent film, television, and concert career into a two-minute summary, but it would be nice for younger viewers to realize there's more to Judy (much more!) than just Dorothy.

Disc 2 kicks off with the definitive documentary, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic. Produced by the Tin Man's son, Jack Haley, Jr. (the mastermind behind That's Entertainment!), this breezy, informative 1990 television special—hosted by Lansbury—delves into every nook and cranny of the production, examining casting, Buddy Ebsen's near-fatal illness, on-set accidents (including an especially scary incident involving Margaret Hamilton), and the film's innovative special effects. The 50-minute documentary also dispels several bawdy myths surrounding the Munchkins, and includes reminiscences from producer Mervyn LeRoy; composers Arlen and Harburg; director King Vidor; Bolger; Haley; and Garland's children, Liza Minnelli, and Lorna and Joe Luft.

Next up is Memories of Oz, a 27-minute documentary produced in 2001 by Turner Classic Movies. Several surviving Munchkins (including the coroner) share their recollections of making the film, while others analyze and extol the virtues of this timeless classic. Oz collectors and admirers (including director John Waters) discuss the movie's state-of-the-art special effects, set and costume design, and the appeal of Garland in this typically classy TCM presentation.

The Art of Imagination: A Tribute to Oz gathers together a number of Hollywood heavyweights to analyze many of the film's technical elements. Composers Randy Newman and Don Davis, directors Peter Jackson and Martha Coolidge, actor Sean Astin, and entertainer Michael Feinstein are among those who share their insights. The brand new half-hour documentary examines the movie's song-writing, scoring, and choral arrangements, production design, MGM's peerless art department, the complex makeup, lavish costumes, challenging special effects, and, according to narrator Sydney Pollack, "the film's biggest challenge"—Technicolor. Newman calls Garland "one of the great pop voices in history," and composer Richard M. Sherman (Mary Poppins) cites the brilliant rhymes of lyricist E.Y. Harburg. Oz students young and old will certainly enjoy this informative, well-done short film.

Another all-new documentary, Because of the Wonderful Things It Does: The Legacy of Oz addresses how baby boomers view and interpret Oz, beginning with memories of the film's first telecast in 1956 (cleverly recreated by the documentary's producers). The entertaining 25-minute piece goes on to discuss subsequent animated and stage adaptations of Baum's novel; how the story and film influenced such science fiction blockbusters as Star Wars and E.T.; the MGM auction of the ruby slippers; Oz collectors and festivals; and Oz character impersonators. Interviews with three surviving Munchkins, Oz historian John Fricke, John and Jane Lahr (the Cowardly Lion's children), and Baum's great-granddaughter tie all the elements together, and help us foster an appreciation for the far-reaching impact of The Wizard of Oz in all its myriad forms.

Harold Arlen's Home Movies is a priceless four-and-a-half-minute collection of color clips shot by the composer of Over the Rainbow on the Oz set, mostly during makeup and costume tests. Garland, Bolger, Haley, and Lahr all clown for the camera, and make us wish the film had a soundtrack!

The Outtakes and Deleted Scenes section opens with the judiciously excised Ray Bolger dance routine from If I Only Had a Brain—perhaps the film's most famous rarity. Still montages sub for lost footage on the subsequent entries, which include Buddy Ebsen's original vocal track of If I Only Had a Heart; the Triumphal Return to Emerald City, which followed the liquidation of the Wicked Witch; Garland's unused reprise of Over the Rainbow, sung while in captivity in the Witch's castle; and composer Harold Arlen's home movies of the deleted Jitterbug production number.

It's a Twister! It's a Twister! The Tornado Tests allows us to concentrate on the truly magnificent special effects work that made the cyclone such a formidable and terrifying force. A few deleted bits of storm footage add extra interest to this riveting eight-minute section. Off to See the Wizard brings back several animated sequences (supervised by the legendary Chuck Jones) featuring Oz characters. The snippets were used to introduce a series of family films on ABC-TV in 1967. The From the Vault section includes three vintage short subjects, beginning with the 1938 Another Romance of Celluloid: Electrical Power (10m:29s), which chronicles how the movie industry uses power generated by the Hoover Dam to light its massive soundstages. A brief black-and-white clip of Oz (featuring Dorothy in an early—and wisely abandoned—blonde wig) shows how electricity fueled the Technicolor process. A two-minute excerpt from the Frank Capra short Cavalcade of the Academy Awards features Mickey Rooney presenting Garland with a miniature Oscar for the year's Best Juvenile Performance, while a 90-second clip from Texas Contest Winners follows a group of Houston tourists as they explore the MGM lot, and bump into Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, and Buddy Ebsen outside the Oz rehearsal hall.

The extensive Audio Vault opens with a jukebox of the film's recording sessions, which include numerous takes of Over the Rainbow and other Oz songs, rehearsal recordings, Munchkin voice tests, countless false starts, goofs, and instrumental underscoring. This is a rare opportunity to experience first-hand all the hard work, dedication, concentration, monotony, and, yes, fun that goes into recording a musical soundtrack. The audio quality is so clear, we feel like we're actually in the recording booth with Judy, Ray, Jack, Bert, and the rest of the Oz gang.

Leo Is on the Air was a weekly 15-minute MGM promotional radio series spotlighting new releases and including soundtrack excerpts. The Oz installment offers a sampling of the score, along with plenty of hyperbolic narration. Much more substantive (and entertaining) is the hour-long season finale of the Good News radio program, which aired two months prior to the Oz premiere, and marked the official public debut of the movie's songs. The show includes a funny Baby Snooks sketch (with an Oz angle) from comedienne Fannie Brice, composer Harold Arlen crooning Over the Rainbow, and an especially charming rendition of the anthem by Garland. Host Robert Young fills in for the Tin Man in a couple of numbers, and Fred Stone, who portrayed the Scarecrow in the 1902 Broadway production of Oz, makes a brief guest appearance.

Finally, new to this edition, the Lux Radio Theater adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, which aired on Christmas Day 1950, features a 28-year-old Garland recreating the role of Dorothy, and uncannily duplicating the juvenile charm and sincerity she brought to the film 11 years earlier. Garland offers a more mature and showy—but no less thrilling—reading of Over the Rainbow, and still manages to tug the heart strings during the "no place like home" dramatic finale. The 60-minute program (complete with vintage commercials) tries its best to conjure up images of the cyclone and Munchkinland, but only succeeds in reminding us how inherently visual Oz is, and how the material is ill-suited to an audio adaptation. Still, this rarity remains a welcome addition to the Oz set, and it's a treat to experience Garland tackling Dorothy as an adult.

The Stills Galleries have been expanded to include 18 (yes, 18!) individual sections, which present a comprehensive history of The Wizard of Oz from its first roots as a Broadway stage show up through the present day. Oz on Broadway dredges up a fascinating collection of photographs and poster art from the 1902 New York production, while Pre-MGM focuses on Baum and the original illustrations that graced many of the Oz books. (Both are new to this DVD edition.) Sketches and Storyboards presents several early glimpses of key scenes, and more than 75 stills comprise Costume and Makeup Tests, which allow us to evaluate Garland's numerous proposed hair styles, the Scarecrow's wisely abandoned Boy George look, and Frank Morgan's various guises. The section also includes shots of Buddy Ebsen in Tin Man makeup and Gale Sondergaard as a glamorous Wicked Witch of the West. Richard Thorpe's Oz and Buddy Ebsen (both new to this edition) unveil dozens of scene shots taken during Ebsen's brief tenure as the Tin Man and before Thorpe (the film's first assigned director) was replaced by Victor Fleming. Almost 300 photos in both color and black-and-white make up Oz Comes to Life, and they include scenes from the film, publicity portraits, on-set candids, blueprints of sets, glimpses of stand-ins, and an excerpt from a studio memo that details a violent scuffle between two Munchkins. Behind the Scenes shows such stars as Mickey Rooney and Norma Shearer visiting the set; Portraits offers an array of more than 75 posed studio shots of the main characters; Special Effects reproduces a series of memos outlining the various visual effects and their cost; Post Production matches faces to some of the technical staff, including film editor Blanche Sewell, director Fleming, orchestrator Herbert Stothart, and producer Mervyn LeRoy, and leads us up to the movie's first preview; and Deleted Scenes focuses primarily on Dorothy's triumphant return to Oz following the witch's death. Reproductions of original publicity (print ads, lobby cards, billboards, etc.), photos from both the Hollywood and New York premieres, shots from the 1940 Academy Awards ceremony, foreign posters, and a brief chronicle of Oz reissues rounds out this massive yet mesmerizing still collection.

A trailer gallery features six vintage previews (all in great shape, by the way), beginning with the 1939 What is Oz? teaser, followed by a special 1940 black-and-white trailer designed to promote MGM product for a new Loew's theater in Cairo, Egypt (and featuring an alternate take of Over the Rainbow). Also included are two 1949 reissue promos, the first of which is a truncated version of the original 1939 trailer, while the second uses animation to cleverly target adult audiences. The 1970 reissue preview (which I remember seeing as a 7-year-old) and the 1998 trailer heralding the movie's multi-million-dollar restoration complete the gallery offerings. Lansbury once again provides informative audio introductions for each selection.

Disc 3 of this collector's edition focuses on the man who unwittingly started the Oz phenomenon more than a century ago. L. Frank Baum could be termed the forgotten man when movie fans convene to discuss The Wizard of Oz, but Warner Home Video puts the author front-and-center in the all-new documentary, L. Frank Baum: The Man Behind the Curtain. The 27-minute biography examines Baum's privileged upbringing, how he toiled at a number of different careers before finally writing down his Oz stories, and his hopelessly romantic, starry-eyed nature. Two of Baum's great-grandchildren comment on his personality and legacy in this absorbing, stylishly produced portrait.

The remainder of the disc includes all the pre-1939 cinematic incarnations of Oz, beginning with the 13-minute 1910 silent film (in surprisingly good condition), which features men in animal suits and some rudimentary special effects. The Magic Cloak of Oz (1914), which runs 38 minutes, looks pretty ragged and faded, but possesses more polished production values, while His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz (also from 1914) boasts direction and screenplay by Baum himself. The image quality of this 59-minute film isn't any better, but one can hardly complain, considering its age.

The 1925 adaptation of The Wizard of Oz remains the best known silent version, and with good reason. Turner Entertainment has lovingly restored the 71-minute film, which uses sepia tones in the Kansas sequences and a purple tint when the action shifts to Oz. In this telling, Dorothy (Dorothy Dwan) is a nubile nymph with a mysterious heritage, who must fend off the attentions of the two farmhands (Larry Semon and Oliver Hardy) who work for her sainted Aunt Em (Mary Carr) and cruel Uncle Henry (Frank Alexander), and later become the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman. Some decent effects and lots of slapstick comedy distinguish the film, which often feels more like The Perils of Pauline than the adventures of Dorothy. Semon, who looks a bit like Ray Bolger, also directed and co-wrote this antique curio, in which Hardy appears without his soon-to-be perennial partner, Stan Laurel.

Legal difficulties prevented the 1933 animated short loosely based on Oz from being exhibited at that time, but Warner has rescued this charming cartoon from the vault and includes it here. Short on story, but possessing a charming whimsical slant, this eight-minute romp introduces Dorothy and her pals to both Technicolor and sound, and completes the Disc 3 supplements.

But wait, there's more! Unbelievably, this three-disc collector's edition also includes handsomely packaged, full-color reproductions of the eight-page souvenir program distributed to the lucky attendees of the film's premiere; a 12-page special issue of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio News celebrating the release of Oz; and a 16-page copy of Photoplay Studies, a secondary education scholastic guide chronicling the movie's production history. All are packed with photos, facts, and anecdotes. There's also a colorful postcard honoring original Oz poster design, as well as facsimiles of the premiere invitation and ticket. Most impressive is a separate folder of original 1939 Kodachrome publicity art, featuring 10 gorgeously reproduced portraits and on-set photographs, all with astounding clarity and eye-popping color.

It's extras like these that make this collector's edition an essential purchase for Oz fans of all ages. Well done, Warner!

Extras Grade: A+

 

Final Comments

There's no place like Oz, and this spectacular collector's edition reminds us why. For classic film buffs, it's the DVD release of the year. The breathtaking Ultra-Resolution transfer, remastered 5.1 audio, and hours upon hours of absorbing supplements immerse us in this timeless classic like never before. Few films evoke such intense feelings of warmth and wonder, or make us so appreciate the innocence of youth and simple comfort of family. Oz is a national treasure, and part of almost every American's personal heritage.

 


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