The Wizard Of Oz Part Nine
I’m off to see The Wizard once more and I know you want to come with me. In The Wizard Of Oz Part Nine, I’m texting you, about what the critics are saying about one of the greatest films of all time.
The Wizard of Oz film received much acclaim upon its release. Frank Nugent considered the film a “delightful piece of wonder-working which had the youngsters’ eyes shining and brought a quietly amused gleam to the wiser ones of the oldsters. Not since Disney’s Snow White has anything quite so fantastic succeeded half so well.” Nugent had issues with some of the film’s special effects, writing, “with the best of will and ingenuity, they cannot make a Munchkin or a Flying Monkey that will not still suggest, however vaguely, a Singer’s Midget in a Jack Dawn masquerade. Nor can they, without a few betraying jolts and split-screen overlappings, bring down from the sky the great soap bubble in which the Good Witch rides and roll it smoothly into place.” According to Nugent, “Judy Garland’s Dorothy is a pert and fresh-faced miss with the wonder-lit eyes of a believer in fairy tales, but the Baum fantasy is at its best when the Scarecrow, the Woodman, and the Lion are on the move.”
Writing in Variety, John C. Flinn predicted that the film was “likely to perform some record-breaking feats of box-office magic,” noting, “Some of the scenic passages are so beautiful in design and composition as to stir audiences by their sheer unfoldment.” He also called Garland “an appealing figure” and the musical numbers “gay and bright.”
Harrison’s Reports wrote, “Even though some persons are not interested in pictures of this type, it is possible that they will be eager to see this picture just for its technical treatment. The performances are good, and the incidental music is of considerable aid. Pictures of this caliber bring credit to the industry.”
“Leo the Lion is privileged to herald this one with his deepest roar – the one that comes from way down – for seldom if indeed ever has the screen been so successful in its approach to fantasy and extravaganza through flesh-and-blood,” wrote Film Daily, adding that this “handsomely mounted fairy story in Technicolor, with its wealth of humor and homespun philosophy, its stimulus to the imagination, its procession of unforgettable settings, its studding of merry tunes should click solidly at the box-office.”
Not all reviews were positive. Some moviegoers felt that a 16-year-old Judy Garland was slightly too old to play the little girl who Baum originally intended his Dorothy to be. Russell Maloney of The New Yorker wrote that the film displayed “no trace of imagination, good taste, or ingenuity” and declared it “a stinkeroo,” while Otis Ferguson of The New Republic wrote, “It has dwarfs, music, Technicolor, freak characters, and Judy Garland. It can’t be expected to have a sense of humor, as well – and as for the light touch of fantasy, it weighs like a pound of fruitcake soaking wet.”
The Wizard of Oz placed seventh on Film Daily’s year-end nationwide poll of 542 critics naming the best films of 1939.
Roger Ebert chose it as one of his Great Films, writing that “The Wizard of Oz has a wonderful surface of comedy and music, special effects and excitement, but we still watch it six decades later because its underlying story penetrates straight to the deepest insecurities of childhood, stirs them and then reassures them.”
Writer Salman Rushdie acknowledged The Wizard of Oz was my very first literary influence” in his 2002 musings about the film. He has written: “When I first saw The Wizard of Oz, it made a writer of me.” His first short story, written at the age of 10, was titled “Over the Rainbow”.
In a 2009 retrospective article about The Wizard of Oz, San Francisco Chronicle film critic and author Mick LaSalle declared that the film’s “entire Munchkinland sequence, from Dorothy’s arrival in Oz to her departure on the yellow brick road, has to be one of the greatest in cinema history – a masterpiece of set design, costuming, choreography, music, lyrics, storytelling, and sheer imagination.”
On the film critic aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 99% based on 109 reviews, with an average score of 9.4/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “An absolute masterpiece whose groundbreaking visuals and deft storytelling are still every bit as resonant, The Wizard of Oz is a must-see film for young and old.”. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film received the maximum score of 100 out of 100, based on 4 reviews, indicating “universal acclaim”.