Do you remember your first time down the Yellow Brick Road?
If you've got a pulse, chances are you have taken that journey many times over, as "The Wizard of Oz" has been enchanting audiences for 75 years as one of the most popular and beloved motion pictures of all time. The 1939 big screen adaptation turned L. Frank Baum's acclaimed children's book into a Hollywood musical extravaganza, an eye-popping sing-along with stunning Technicolor bringing the land of Oz to life — and now, thanks to a recent restoration in theaters for a one-week limited engagement, in IMAX 3D.
With the re-release in mind, we've compiled a dozen (of many more, surely) reasons why everyone still loves this timeless classic.
12. The Colorful Land of Oz
One of the film's most moving moments is the seemingly "live" transition from black & white to color when Dorothy steps out of her farmhouse and enters the land of Oz. Today, this effect would be a piece of cake thanks to computer technology, but back in 1939 it required a bit more ... theatricality.
According to Bad Ass Digest, the farmhouse set was painted sepia tone and Bobie Koshay, Judy Garland's double, was outfitted in a sepia dress and given a sepia make-up job. Shot from the back, Koshay walked to the door and opened it, revealing the Technicolor of Munchkinland beyond the doorframe. Koshay then stepped out of the way of the shot and the camera glided through the door ... followed by Judy Garland, revealed in her bright blue dress. It's a simple solution that made the transition from Kansas to Oz feel seamless, and an example of true old-school movie magic.
11. "I've a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Any More"
The screenplay for "Oz" has some of the most quoted — and misquoted — lines of dialogue in movie history. The film's three credited writers (and over a dozen uncredited contributors, including "Citizen Kane" screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz) packed the script with countless memorable lines. But the one that pops up more often than any other comes from when the dazed Dorothy first steps out into Oz and says to her dog, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more." There's even a supercut of over 50 films and TV shows quoting, and often mangling, Dorothy's most famous expression.
10. "The Lollipop Guild"
The delightful multi-act recital thrown by the Munchkins in celebration of the murder of the Wicked Witch of the East via Kansas farmhouse had a rather strange interlude with the brief performance of "The Lollipop Guild." Three inexplicably squinting tough-guy Munchkins performed their catchy mini-song and presented Dorothy with a lollipop as both a "welcome to Munchkinland" and seemingly as a trophy for killing the bad guy. The Munchkin in the middle who hands Dorothy the lollipop is Steve Arlen, who was honored earlier this week at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
9. "I'll Get You, My Pretty ...
... and your little dog, too!" As the Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton was the film's MVP, creating the kind of villain you just love, love, love to hate and arguably one of the best-ever screen villains of all time (on second thought, don't argue — it's true).
She has many wonderful moments throughout the film, though her first appearance as she interrupts the Munchkin party and gets really, really upset at Dorothy for offing her sister is one of the best -- you really feel the sense of fear she brings to Munchkinland, to the point that they seem to forget that they ultimately outnumber her at least a few dozen to one. Hamilton's double-take after Glinda (Billie Burke) exclaims, "Begone, before somebody drops a house on you!" is pretty priceless, too.
8. The Great and Powerful Oz
Remember the first time you saw the Wizard? Freaky as all get-out, right? He's a floating giant face with a huge forehead, surrounded by fire and loud noises, inspiring fear and awe as he gives Dorothy and friends the seemingly insurmountable task of bringing him the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West (which they eventually accomplish by "liquidating" her). James Franco and Sam Raimi did a terrific homage to this sound and light show in the climactic battle scene of this year's "Oz the Great and Powerful."
7. Entering Emerald City
Perhaps the sequence even more breathtaking than the very first reveal of Munchkinland in all its Technicolor glory is our heroes' arrival at Emerald City. Have you ever seen anything look more ... well, green? There's something truly majestic about Emerald City, a place of stunning and surreal design where tired metaphors like "a horse of a different color" are taken literally. Kudos to art director Cedric Gibbons, set decorator Edwin B. Willis and all those other contributors who went unnamed because Hollywood hadn't quite figured out how to do complete credits just yet.
6. Winged Monkeys
What's scarier and freakier than the Wicked Witch of the West? Her damn Winged Monkeys, that's what. Horrible, loathsome creatures. Really, we're sure they're responsible for a lot more nightmares than their boss. Shudder!
5. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"
The Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz isn't a giant floating face with a huge forehead surrounded by fire and loud noises after all. The Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz is actually ... Frank Morgan (he plays five characters in total). His best bit? Exclaiming "Oh!" when he realizes he's been discovered, then throwing in one more "The Great Oz has spoken!" before exclaiming "Oh!" again and then actually closing the curtain. "You humbug!" exclaims the Scarecrow. He is, but a lovable one.
4. "If I Only Had a Brain"
Perhaps the third-best song of "The Wizard of Oz" (we'll get to #2 and #1 in a bit), "If I Only Had a Brain" is as much a terrific dance number as it is a sing-along ditty. Ray Bolger, perhaps the film's runner-up MVP behind Margaret Hamilton, was born to play the Scarecrow (though he was originally cast as the Tim Man), making us believe that he might actually be made of straw as he tumbled, slid and pranced about as only a lean and limber danceman could. One of the film's best throwaway gags is the handful of times the Scarecrow has to re-stuff his chest with straw that had come out for one reason or another.
3. "Follow the Yellow Brick Road/We're Off to See the Wizard"
A warm and rousing number celebrating companionship, a sense of adventure and embracing your destiny, "Follow the Yellow Brick Road/We're Off to See the Wizard" has since become a go-to song for many a traveler on many different types of journeys. If only we always had a clear path and good friends as we went through the best and worst of times!
2. "I'm Melting, Melting!"
The incomperable Margaret Hamilton milked her death scene like nothing else, turning the Wicked Witch of the West into a Hollywood diva with her cries of "Oh what a world, what a world!" It's a terrifically gruesome and frightening scene — all the more so with the "How about a little fire, Scarecrow?" bit directly preceding it — nicely balanced with a macabre sense of humor. Good night, Wicked Witch — see you when you're Mila Kunis.
1. "Over the Rainbow"
Believe it or not, Judy Garland's showstopping performance of the classic song almost didn't make the final cut of the movie. According to Uproxx via the Wonderful Wiki of Oz, MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer thought the song was too sad. In another account, half a dozen MGM executives were in favor of cutting the song, questioning why Judy Garland was singing in a farmyard. And Eddie Mannix, manager of the MGM studio, claimed that the song slowed the pace of the movie. The song was actually cut for an early preview, though producer Mervyn LeRoy and associate producer Arthur Freed fought to put it back in, with LeRoy even threatening to quit the film if "Over the Rainbow" wasn't included. Their protests were obviously — and thankfully — effective.
"Over the Rainbow" won one of the film's two Academy Awards along with the Oscar for Best Score ("Oz" was nominated for Best Picture but lost out to "Gone With the Wind"). Still, the song, Garland's performance, and nearly every other aspect of the film has lived on for 75 years, and will surely be around for many, many more.
"The Wizard of Oz" is out now in IMAX 3D for one week only.