The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro. He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man.
In honor of the late, great Ray Bolger’s birthday (born on January 10th in 1904 in Dorchester, MA, just a stone’s throw from yours truly!), my post of the day will be for the most beloved movie of all time, 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. Four directors actually worked on this—Victor Fleming (the only one who was credited), King Vidor, Richard Thorpe and George Cukor (his main contribution was to get rid of the blonde wig and glamour-girl make-up on Dorothy, played by the immortal Judy Garland). What can I say about this classic that hasn’t been said before? I’ve only met one person who’s had anything bad to say about this marvelous movie. I won’t mention any names, but they’re one of my Facebook friends and they know who they are! The performances from everyone in the film are now legendary. It’s not fair to single one out, as everyone is incredible, but I’ll say that Margaret Hamilton deserves her #1 spot as the Wicked Witch of the West in the American Film Institute’s listing of the movies’ Greatest Villains. The special effects, set design and makeup, though in many respects dated, still have the power to charm (and the view of the cyclone in the background of the shots still creeps me out). The best thing about the movie is the aura of magic that it still carries 76 years after it’s premiere (a lot more magic than the recent, mediocre Oz the Great and Powerful). And speaking of Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow, as everyone knows), he was one of Hollywood’s great dancers, but was given short shrift in this movie. His endearing dance, choreographed by the amazing Busby Berkeley, was cut from the film due to time constraints. However, it’s available as an extra on most DVD editions of the film, plus it’s also on YouTube. Well worth a look!