The main title card from the opening credits of MGM's The Wizard of Oz.Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witchfrom left to right, Jack Haley, Ray Bolger, Judy Garland, and Bert Lahr

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The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 musical fantasy film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is based on L. more...

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Frank Baum's turn-of-the-century children's story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, in which a resourceful American girl is snatched up by a Kansas tornado and deposited in a fantastic land of witches, talking scarecrows, cowardly lions, and more. It stars Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Billie Burke and Margaret Hamilton. It also featured a cast of little people in the roles of the munchkins including Jerry Maren in the Lollipop Guild and Meinhardt Raabe as the Munchkin Coroner. While not the first feature film produced in Technicolor (as commonly believed), The Wizard of Oz makes conspicuous use of the technique; its Kansas bookend sequences are in sepia-toned black-and-white, while the Oz scenes are in full three-strip Technicolor.


L. Frank Baum (born Lyman Frank Baum on May 15, 1856, in Chittenango, New York) published his book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900. Over the following years it sold millions of copies, and Baum wrote thirteen more Oz books before his death on May 15, 1919.

In January 1938, MGM bought the rights to the book. The script was completed on October 8, 1938 (following numerous rewrites). Filming started on October 13, 1938 and was completed on March 16, 1939. The film premiered on August 12, 1939, and went into general release on August 25.

The movie's script was adapted by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf. Several people assisted with the adaptation without official credit: Irving Brecher, William H. Cannon, Herbert Fields, Arthur Freed, Jack Haley, E.Y. Harburg, Samuel Hoffenstein, Bert Lahr, John Lee Mahin, Herman J. Mankiewicz, Jack Mintz, Ogden Nash, and Sid Silvers. It was directed by Victor Fleming, Richard Thorpe (uncredited), George Cukor (uncredited), and King Vidor (uncredited). Costume design was by Adrian.

Music and Lyrics were by Harold Arlen and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, who won Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score and Best Music, Song for "Over the Rainbow").

Casting the film was problematic, with actors shifting roles repeatedly at the beginning of filming. One of the primary changes was in the role of the Tin Woodsman. The Tin Man was originally slated for Ray Bolger, and Buddy Ebsen was to play the Scarecrow. Bolger was unhappy with the part, and convinced producer Mervyn LeRoy to recast him as the Scarecrow. Ebsen didn't object to the change at first, but just 9 days into filming, he suffered a reaction to the aluminum powder makeup, as it had coated his lungs as he breathed it in while it was applied daily. Consequently, Ebsen (now in critical condition) had to be hospitalized and leave the project. Jack Haley was given the part the next day. The makeup used on Jack Haley was quietly changed to an aluminum paste makeup. Ironically, despite his near-death experience with the makeup, Ebsen well-outlived all the principal players.


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