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500 movies list – 180 The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

Directed by Victor Fleming and apparently 4 uncredited dudes

Screenplay written by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allen Woolf based on the book by L Frank Baum… apparently there are also a large committee’s worth of contributing writers as well

This is one of those movies I can probably recite, if someone needed me to. I guess we had it on video when I was a kid and me and my sister watched it quite a lot. The beautiful thing about watching it again on blu ray (special anniversary edition) is that you can see so much detail. In the Munchkinland sequences you can see which munchkins aren’t singing or dancing.

Judy Garland shines in this film, and it’s hard to know if it’s because she was high or drunk or just because she’s a fantastic actor. The songs are beautiful, especially Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Random trivia about this movie is everywhere, because it’s been popular so long. How about this one? According to lead Munchkin Jerry Maren, the “little people” on the set were paid $50 per week for a 6-day work week, while Toto received $125 per week. That and the fact that most of the Wicked Witch’s scenes were edited down or cut entirely because she was too scary. I can believe it, she terrified me as a kid, her and the flying monkeys.

Of course none of this was as scary as the amazing Return To Oz where there was the Deadly Desert, The Wheelers and head removing Princess Mombie, following on from an evil psychiatric asylum and electric shock treatment. Don’t get me wrong, I freaking love that movie, but it terrified me. This movie seems very easy to deal with in comparison!

Overpaid or not, Toto is a very good dog though, you can see him offering his paw to Dorothy to shake in the Somewhere Over the Rainbow sequence even after she shakes his wee paw. He does stunts and runs where he’s told, it’s adorable.

I actually noticed something I never have before: in the sequence where they’re in the haunted forest they’ve all armed up. I had noticed the Lion had a net before, but not that the Tin Man has a gigantic spanner or that the Scarecrow is pointing a hand gun around the place. I wonder where they got a gun in Oz?

There are so many moments that have been spoofed in such excellent ways – the Winkies ‘oh wee oh’ sequence as Burns’s guards in the Simpsons and of course as Oreos in Wreck it Ralph. This film has entered our lexicon when it comes to moving images. Then of course is the advent of Wicked, which tells the story from the Wicked Witch’s point of view and makes the whole thing a lot more political.

Does it make me love the people? Oh yes. From the very start, Dorothy is a sweet, dreaming and getting in the way. I noticed on today’s watch how protective Glinda is at the start of the movie, when they’re talking to the Wicked Witch she keeps her arms around Dorothy and gives her advice. It’s quite lovely.

Bechdel test: Yes, in virtually the second line, Dorothy talks to Aunt Em about the things Miss Gulch said she’d do to Toto. In fact it passes over and over again with Glinda and The Wicked Witch of the West but that shouldn’t be a surprise given the source material is unapologetically feminist.

Best line: based on what I mostly quote it’s “To the Emerald City, as fast as lightning!”

But I also love what the witch says as she dies “what a world, what a world…” I’m sure we all feel like that when we die, huh?

Wizard: “Remember, a heart is not judged by how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.”

State of mind: It really is a pity that the Wonderful Wizard of Oz that came out a couple of years ago was so misogynistic and bad. It would be really nice to have a new tale from Oz…

My favourite Banksy piece seems relevant:

wizard of oz bansky dorothy gale judy garland police search

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Christmas Movies watch list

There’s nothing like a Christmas movie to get you in the festive mood. Here’s my favourites, and there’s a lot of them! I’ve also put some exclusions in the bottom there…

The Muppet Christmas Carol  – this is my absolute favourite Christmas movie ever. I first saw it when it first came out and it’s the best version of Christmas Carol ever. I can watch it on a loop.

The Man Who Invented Christmas – This only came out last year, but it’s a really good one. An interesting look at the writing process + Victorian Christmas + just really entertaining.

The Princess Switch – This one is a Netflix special and it’s an adorable Prince and the Pauper/Parent Trap thing. I love it.

A Christmas Prince – I actually don’t love this one, but it has some good moments. I think it’s probably just on the far side of twee for me to truly love.

Love Actually – Classic. Skip the Colin sequences and try not to think about how almost all the relationships are about men in power and their literally subordinate women.

Santa Claus the movie this is an eighties classic about the true meaning of Christmas which includes a very charming Santa origin, an upsetting sequence of breaking toys and a very rough ending for John Lithgow’s bad guy.

A Christmas Toy  – this is a weird little Jim Henson special which was Toy Story a decade and a half before Toy Story. Toys come alive! and want to be the special Christmas Toy! It’s emotional and lovely.

The Santa Clause – the old ‘you kill Santa, you have to be Santa’ thing. Surprisingly sweet, aside from Tim Allen is a real douche to his ex and there’s lots of fat jokes. 

Elf – A surprisingly charming Will Ferrell movie in which he’s an honest to goodness Magic Pixie Dream Boy. Zooey Deschenal with blonde hair is pretty disconcerting though.

The Muppet Family Christmas special – this is a gem. A heartwarming found family togetherness story with lots of great music. The ‘careful of the icy patch’ gag is funny every time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojtGHXsTXmU

Nightmare Before Christmas  – You can watch it at Halloween AND at Christmas! Also has a special place in my heart because we saw the Haunted Mansion decked out in Nightmare stuff this year. 

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – the friendly stop motion classic which reminds us that it’s only okay to be different if someone can profit of you. This is a pretty rough watch, lots of bullying and trying to force Rudolph to fit in. Maybe don’t watch this, it’s rough and dated. But watching it a few years back gave me all kinds of weird flashbacks so I think I used it watch it as a kid, so it’s still on my list.

Its a Wonderful Life  – A true classic. Many a TV special was based on this classic ‘what if?’ story and although the first half is very rough going, the happy ending makes up for it.

Meet me in St Louis – A year in the life story of a well to do family with songs and dances and the classic Judy Garland ‘have yourself a merry little Christmas’ tearjerker. There’s a fair bit of implied racism and very dated attitudes though.

A Charlie Brown Christmas – they always played this one on TV and I always watched it. Watching it as an adult I found it one of the bleakest and most nihilistic Christmas specials, but hey. 

Bad Santa – This one isn’t for everyone. It’s very rough, with Billy Bob Thornton being a truly terrible person, and Lauren Graham (aka Lorelei Gilmore) as a bartender with a Santa fetish, but if you can watch without getting hung up on it it’s a good laugh.

Rise of the Guardians  – Not technically about Christmas (in fact probably a bit more Easter in this) but you gotta. That bad ass Battle Santa is to die for.

Thomas Kincade’s Christmas Cottage – featuring Jared Padalecki acting his wee heart out in lots of knitted accessories. It’s adorable and silly. 

Holiday Calendar – Hey, it’s a Netflix holiday rom-com with a non-white lead! This is a surprisingly sweet one, and damn I want her apartment and her vintage advent calendar. 

Gremlins – for when you want some horror with your Christmas. Plus Phoebe Cates’ tragic backstory about why she hates Christmas is a classic.

Arthur Christmas – a cringey, family drama misfit story but generally a good watch and I liked the ending.

Deliberate exclusions: A Christmas story, Die Hard, any and all Grinch variations, Home Alone, Four Christmases and The Holiday.