Follow the yellow brick road. I’ll get you my pretty. There’s no place like home.

These iconic lines all came from “The Wizard Of Oz,” which turns 80 this year.

The film made Judy Garland a movie star and charmed audiences across the country.

In his original review for Variety, critic John C. Flinn Sr. wrote
The Wizard of Oz

Nothing comparable has come out of Hollywood in the past few years to approximate the lavish scale of this filmusical extravaganza, in the making of which the ingenuity and inventiveness of technical forces were employed without stint of effort or cost. Except for opening and closing stretches of prolog [sic] and epilog [sic], which are visioned in a rich sepia, the greater portion of the film is in Technicolor. Some of the scenic passages are so beautiful in design and composition as to stir audiences by their sheer unfoldment.

Whether ‘Oz’ will pay out on its heavy production investment is useless speculation, wholly dependent upon the breadth of its appeal and the effective showmanship of its handling. Fantasies and fairy stories are way out of the groove of run-of-the-mill film entertainment. ‘Snow White’ reached the peaks of commercial success and drew to theatres a vast casual public which skyrocketed receipts. In some respects, ‘Oz’ possesses the same qualities of technical perfection and story appeal. At popular prices it’s a bargain package for eye and ear.

The movie has resonated with audiences for decades. It’s been called one of the most influential movies of all time. The techniques on display in the film have inspired countless directors. And the story itself — based on the novel of the same name — echoes to this day (notice any similarities between the Tin Woodsman and Cowardly Lion and C-3PO and Chewbacca?).

In 1975, the actress who played the Wicked Witch Of The West went on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” to explain to a new generation of young fans that her character wasn’t real.

The success of the movie inspired many other works, from “Wicked” to “The Wiz.”

What makes this movie so beloved? Why have we continued to watch it?

Produced by Danielle Knight. Text by Gabrielle Healy.

Guests

  • John Fricke Author, historian and producer; he has written seven books about "The Wizard of Oz" and Judy Garland, including the recent "Wonderful World of Oz"; he won two Emmy Awards as co-producer of the PBS "American Masters" and A&E "Biography" programs on Judy Garland

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