Sunday, June 19, 2011

Over the Rainbow

Like so many others, I keep a mental list of my favorite movies. "Hoosiers" is on that list. So is "Singing in the Rain" and "The King's Speech." "Field of Dreams" is on that list too, as is "What Dreams May Come." But my all time, absolutely favorite movie - the one that I will watch at any opportunity - is "The Wizard of Oz."

Yep, 1939, Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Margaret Hamilton, the Munchkins, Oz, the flying monkeys, the whole nine yards. "The Wizard of Oz" is always number one on any list of mine. I probably have seen it at least once for every year of my life (55) and probably another dozen to two dozen times beyond that, so maybe I've seen it 75-80 times.

Friday night Warren and I went down to the Ohio Theatre for the start of the summer movie series and watched "The Wizard of Oz" on the big screen. (Be still my heart. While the movie suits me in any format, it really pops when seen on a big screen.)

We were running a bit late getting out of town. As we debated grabbing supper on the fly, I announced, as calmly as I could in light of the ticking clock, that I didn't want to be late for the movie as I had to (had to) see Dorothy sing "Over the Rainbow." If I missed that scene, which occurs very early in the movie, then we might as well bag the whole evening.

A short silence ensued while Warren pondered the enormity (or insanity) of what I had just said. After determining I was probably competent, he said "we'll make it work." And we did, ending up in our seats with ten or fifteen minutes to spare.

I wasn't disappointed. The movie is still magical. For the next two hours (with intermission), I was caught up in the story, enjoying the oh-so-familiar lines and scenes. I bounced in my seat when Glinda (My favorite! My favorite!) made her first appearance; I swallowed hard when Dorothy hugged the scarecrow and whispered "I think I'll miss you most of all." When the house thumped back down at the end of the movie and we were all back in Kansas, I sighed a little.

Emerging into the warm night in downtown Columbus, I felt a little disoriented. "I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." No, nor in Oz either.

If you asked me why I love "The Wizard of Oz" so much, I could probably spin off several reasons. I love the books, and while the movie is not faithful to the text (what do you mean, Louis Mayer, that Dorothy was just dreaming?), it's close enough that I am satisfied. Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen, the lyricist and composer of the songs? Love them. I love watching Judy Garland sing their signature work, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (although it is heartbreaking watching it from the vantage point of now knowing how Garland's life would turn out). I love seeing Frank Morgan (the wizard) pop up in various roles, five in all. I even love the flying monkeys and the Wicked Witch of the West, the two components of the film that frighten most children. (I was fine with them when I was little, but that tornado haunted my dreams well into my thirties. Watching the twister scene the other night on the big screen, I found myself still tensing up as it came closer and closer to the farmhouse.)

I love the actors, I love the costumes, I love the sets. I'd love to be Glinda, no matter which character the Facebook quiz said I was most like.

Let's face it: I love the film.

When I outfitted myself for my new job, I found a skirt at Goodwill that I call my Frida Kahlo/Wizard of Oz skirt. (Katrina, if you are reading this, you are probably rolling your eyes and wondering what on earth I look like.) The Oz reference came about because the skirt is so color splashed that it looks like what Dorothy must have seen when she first opened the door after the farmhouse landed in the Munchkin city.

And maybe that is what I love best about "The Wizard of Oz" - the wonder of Dorothy opening the door into Oz. There is something in that simple scene that has always resonated with me, no matter what my age. Friday night I could barely sit still, knowing that Dorothy was about to open the farmhouse door and step out into enchantment.

In the book, The Wizard Of Oz, Dorothy "gave a cry of amazement and looked about her, her eyes growing bigger and bigger at the wonderful sights she saw." In my very first blog post, I wrote about the magic of opening doors. This movie is where I first learned that to open the door is to set off on an adventure.

Big doors, little doors, real doors, dream doors: no matter what kind of door you may have, there is always that moment when your hand is on the knob and you are about to open it. May you always give cries of amazement at what is on the other side.


Anonymous said...

I will likewise never forget the first time I saw this film on the big screen. I would have been an undergraduate at the U. of Missouri-Columbia and it was a Sunday evening freebie. I had grown up in a home with black and white tv. The colors were an absolute revelation. BTW, we were scurrying around at 1:30 a.m. Friday evening, taking cover from a tornado nearby.

Sharon said...

The Wizard of Oz is a classic, for sure. I've always been a fan...until I saw the broadway show, Wicked. Once you see that, you will never feel the same about the wicked witch of the west. If you ever get to see this show, April, please do. It will mesmerize you!!

see you there! said...

I have to agree, a great movie. I've seen it many times although surely not as many as you have.

Now I want to see that skirt!


Anonymous said...

You are right. I did roll my eyes. I also gasped.

Jenny Woolf said...

I missed The Wizard of Oz as a child, and plan to watch it when I get the chance - when I've finished all the Studio Ghibli animations I've also missed out on :)