Over the course of film history, there have been many releases that have been great. There’s a smaller list of flicks that can be described as “classic,” and then there are only a few that are “transcendent.” And then there’s “The Wizard of Oz,” a film that exists in a completely different universe than everything else. On this day in 1939, it made its premiere at the Strand Theatre in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. The story, as it happens, is relatively simple: A young girl growing up on a farm in Kansas gets swept up by a tornado and into a magical alternate universe full of witches, talking lions, a race of people called Munchkins and a powerful wizard who may not be everything he seems.
Directed by Victor Fleming, “The Wizard of Oz” is an incredible accomplishment. It showed the world the possibilities of Technicolor, turned a handful of songs (written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg) into instant classics and made a superstar out of the young Judy Garland. The images and references in “The Wizard of Oz” have become common parlance, as the concept of the yellow brick road, the ruby red slippers, “There’s no place like home” and the idea that sometimes power is in the perception created by a person behind a curtain are all tropes that have become embedded in the way we talk and think. Can you come up with another film that has had that sort of impact on day-to-day life?
Since its release, “The Wizard of Oz” has inspired a number of sequels, take-offs, homages and parodies, including the video for “Oooh” by De La Soul. It stars Rah Digga as Dorothy and the three members of the group as the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. Their goal? Trying to work their way through the land of Oooh to meet the Wiz (played by track guest Redman) and party at a club called Brick City. Just like the movie, it’s delightfully trippy and a great way to start your day.