The Wizard Of Oz 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray Review

Own it On DVD Or Blu-Ray Hi-Def September 29th 2009

Cover Art and Menus: 10/10
How can you go wrong with images from The Wizard of Oz? Simple, you can’t. It’s colorful and iconic so even a hint of Emerald City or one of the characters is going to sweep me away, so they didn’t have to go to much effort for me..but they did! This box set is well made, beautifully printed, quality all over. It comes in good size box, well made, sturdy, and pretty darn classy. Let me remind you of one thing before we continue here today, The Wizard of Oz is my lifelong favorite movie, THE movie that started me down the film loving brick road, so my views are through ruby red glasses…get the drift?

The entire package is thoughtful, from the tin that the watch is kept in to the lovely books included, it all feels well made, not cheap or flimsy. I have seen a lot of Oz memorabilia, and most of it is not made with the kind of attention this set seems to have been given.

I can’t say enough about the packaging, the menu however, it’s just a still from the movie with the Blu-Ray menu at the bottom, boring but functional.

Features: 20/10

  • The Dreamer Of OZ Motion Picture – I remember catching this movie on TV one late night and being so excited to have anything new associated with The Wizard of Oz. Ritter is another all time favorite of mine and in this TV movie he kind of enchants me a little bit šŸ™‚ It’s the story, allbeit romanticized, about Frank Baum, the author of the original Oz book.
  • Victor Fleming, Master Craftsman Feature Length Documentary – The man behind the camera, or the 3rd man behind the camera I should say. The director of arguably the most famous movie of all time is chronicled in this documentary style extra. It’s like watching Biography on A&E šŸ™‚
  • Hollywood Celebrates It’s Biggest Little Stars – The Munchkins get their star on the walk of fame, finally! Those who have survived their legendary acting cohorts gather for a bit of renewed fame and glory. One guy is really funny, he recounts how he was annoyed that they asked him to play three seperate rolls in the big Munchkin scene.
  • The Magic Cloak Of OZ 1914 Silent Film, The Patchwork Girl Of OZ 1914 Silent Film, and aĀ 1910 version of the film – This story has been fodder for filmmakers since film was invented! These are three versions of the story that made it to the screen. They are awesome! I love silent movies, and these are from way way way before sound was introduced into the film world. 1914 is a long dang time ago, and the story is told in a different way from the 1939 version, but that’s the cool thing, they are all versions of the original book, and that’s what makes them so interesting. The style of entertaining was so different then, it’s capivating to imaging an audience watching, in amazement the way we watch something steeped in special effects like outer space movies, horror, and big action flicks.
  • The Wizard Of Oz Singalong Track – Oh how fun! I’m not a singalong person, but come on!!! We’re off to see the wizard..the wonderful wizard of Oz…it’s classic.
  • Commentary By John Fricke and Cast Family – I haven’t listened to this yet, but I will.It’s a film historian and some family members of the original cast discussing the film, the stories behind the scenes, and more. Can’t wait.
  • The Wonderful Wizard Of OZ Storybook Featurette – Angela Landsbury reads from the original storybook version of the book as animated illustrations fill the screen. Very nice.
  • Prettier Than Ever The Restoration Of OZ – This isn’t very long, but it does cover the process they used 10 years ago when they did the restoration of the film. They commented that it’s the most well preserved film they have ever seen..well, yea!! Do you think someone would allow the original of this baby to be banged around??
  • We Havent Really Met Properly – These are little biographies of each cast member with Angela Landsbury doing the narration. Pretty cool with lots of old photos and glimmers of what other work these folks have done, oh, and Toto too.
  • Music & Effects Track – If you want to watch the movie with just the soundtrack playing, this is your chance. I have no idea why you would except to watch it as a silent kind of movie.
  • Original Mono Track – The sound with all it’s scratches and glitches and tin can sound is here in it’s mono glory.
  • The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz 1990 TV Special – I haven’t watched this yet, but I will, I will.
  • Memories Of Oz 2001 TCM Documentary – I have seen part of this, but not the whole thing. It’s similar to other TV specials with lots of photos and stories about the cast and crew and how The Wizard of Oz has become part of our collective world culture.
  • The Art & Imagination: A Tribute To Oz – Some Hollywood types, Sydney Polluck, Peter Jackson, and more discuss the film, how all of the elements came together, and how it’s always an influence when you are a film maker.
  • Because Of The Wonderful Things It Does: The Legacy Of Oz – Fans of the movie, I mean hard core types who “get it” will appreciate this one most of all. It’s not hard hitting film history journalism, just a bit of fun and that feeling of “I belong” if you are a true lover of the film.
  • Harold Arlen’s Home Movies – Who is Harold Arlen? He wrote Over the Rainbow, oh and Get Happy, Stormy Weather..and many other songs we have all heard our whole lives and never knew where they came from. This is footage he shot with his own camera on the set of Oz.
  • Outtakes & Deleted Scenes – Some of the original theatrical release footage that was removed. Just think, these little bits might have made it just an ordinary flick neverĀ to have the history it did.
  • It’s A Twister! It’s A Twister! The Tornado Tests – One of the best special effects in a movie ever. If you don’t believe me watch it again and think about WHEN, HOW, and what they had to work with and you will realize it’s incredible.
  • Off To See The Wizard -A TV series on ABC from 1967 had animated characters from Oz introducing a film, or part of a film each week. I have never heard of this or watched this extra so I’ll have to investigate more.
  • 3 Vault Shorts – More original film versions of the story, all from the early days of film making, all completely addicting. They make me want to watch more more more of the films of that era.
  • Audio Jukebox Selection – If you love the music you’ll love this documentary packed with outtakes and rehearsals of all the big numbers in the movie. Judy has to restart Over the Rainbow…shock horror!
  • Still Galleries – Photos photos. Usually I don’t like these galleries, but then again, this is the exception.
  • Six Theatrical Trailers – So cool to see the old presentation of movies to the public. This was before TV remember!!
  • MGM: When The Lion Roars Documentary (6 Hours Blu-Ray Exclusive) – OH MY GOSH…a history of the studio! It’s awesome. I can sink my teeth into anything with Jean Luc Pickard at the helm šŸ™‚
  • Digital Copy – I’ll put this on my laptop for future use!
  • Collectible Numbered 70th Anniversary Wizard Of Oz Watch With genuine Crystals – Ohhh my husband won’t let me wear it! It’s a stinkin’ collectible, so he says! I’ll have to sneak it out of the box someday and wear it while he sleeps.
  • Replica Of The Original Film Budget – This is a glossy print of the estimated budget and the actual expenditures of the movie. It’s so amazing to see that things like the catering for the entire film cost only a few thousand dollars.
  • Behind The Curtain 52 Page Coffee-Table Book – I am not one for table books, but this is very interesting. I have to say first, it’s hard to read! The design is nice, but the font is so skinny sometimes with light letters on dark background that it’s hard to read without my ….eh hem, reading glasses. Other than that it’s a beautiful book full of behind the scenes photos, reproductions of paperwork from the movie like press releases, budget sheets, etc.
  • Reproduction Of The Original 1939 Campaign Book – This is the best thing of all in my opinion. If you were a theater owner back in the day you would get this book, a full color book, of advertising print ads, ideas for promotions, cardboard cutouts, news paper articles with photos, the whole whack of goodies. You would order the items you want and then use them to promote your showing of the movie in your area. It’s jam packed with so much promotional material, it’s obvious that the 21st century didn’t start the over saturation idea!

The Movie: 10/10
I don’t do many things extraordinary well in this life, however, there is one thing I have been doing and doing with great passion and skill almost all of my 41 years. With all of my heart I adore The Wizard of Oz. It’s part of my childhood, part of who I am, a jumping off point for when I was learning to form my own perceptions of the world around me.

I think it’s fair to say I won’t be ‘reviewing’ the movie. I can’t. I have zero objectivity on the subject. Admitting it’s got flaws, every film does. Even I’m not hiding from that fact. The thing is, who cares? This isn’t a movie I watch to absorb myself in the rich and fantastic world of fimmaking as a craft. It’s beyond that, it’s truly like visiting with an old friend.

The sepia toned lion appears in the MGM logo, it starts to tousle it’s head to the side and ROAR…(queue the music) dun dun dun dun…..and that opening note to viewers about being young at heart transports me, every single time. It’s like I”m starting over. I have seen The Wizard of Oz probably nearly 200 times. I remember a time when I watched over and over and over on one weekend when I was off work back in my younger years. That had to be about 20 times right there. I think it had just came out on VHS, so you know, IĀ HAD to do it.

If you are not a lifelong fan of this movie you might not understand the appeal. I normally do not appreciate mass mainstream entertainment beyond the momentary distraction. I don’t like to belong to anything for any reason. That’s why it might seem odd that I”m one of the Oz miniens of the world. Well, I’m not a collector, a convention goer, don’t dress the part, my house isn’t decorated with Oz goodies…but I understand why people go to those extremes. Ok, here’s my story:

It was the early 70’s and my childhood Christmas Eves were always spent at my grandparents house. We had supper, presents, and chatter with cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. My grandfather had a wood cabinet console TV, probably 19 inches, in their somewhat small living room. There was always the silver metal tree with rotating colored spot lights underneath. I could sit for hours in the dark watching that tree shimmer…hmm In the evening, every Christmas Eve The Wizard of Oz would come on and even though other cousins were slightly interested, I was the ONLY one who was completely captivated by it. I never was that interested in a whole night of family interaction so I think it was my young mind letting me escape the noise and the hustle bustle.

I would pull the footstool up close to the TV, get on my knees and lean my chin into my hands with elbows resting on the stool. If the noise in the room got too loud I remember frowning, furring my little forehead and doing a big SHHHHHHH. No one cared. Once I even demanded that I had to stay the night because my father wanted leave early and I calculated that by the time we got home I would have missed most of the movie and I was not having that!

Later years I just remember watching it, my pilgrimage to another place so incredible I still can’t really explain it. I mean, it’s a movie set, painted backgrounds, crazy over the top set design, plastic flowers, rubber talking trees…so what?Ā  I can still, even this week at my age, transform myself to that footstool, eyes wide open, heart pounding as the witch tosses the fireball at the scarecrow, or the tinman flies up into the air and the lion chants, “I do believe in spooks I do believe in spooks I do I do I do believe in spooks.”

Here is one thing that might surprise you though, I do not agree with the theme of the movie. That’s right, “there’s no place like home” is a bit claustrophobic for me to be honest. I do love my home, my house, my husband, our life, but this is after having been places. I’ve moved around, seen other cities, lived other ways, met other people. I’ve never seen a flying monkey or a horse of another color. I’ve never met a wizard or beautiful witch. I have met people without hearts, brains , and courage though. There are certainly a lot of ‘men behind curtains’ pretending to be something they are not in this world, so I’ve met a few of them in my day.

There might not be a place like home, but for me it’s a bit of a closed up idea. Even that last line has always made my nose wrinkle, like, “Ok ok, I loved the whole movie but does she have to say that every time?” haha How about, “Oh Auntie Em, will I ever have enough frequent flyer miles to travel around the world to see more amazing places?”

By now you are truly convinced this is not a review of the movie, but rather my impressions of the whole of The Wizard of Oz. I have looked up a lot of things online in the past 10 years about the movie, the culture of the hard core fans, but the thing is, you find the same stuff over and over and over. There are a couple, however, that I think are theĀ best fan sites out there.

She’s been around for 10 years and has a real love for Oz, and makes the effort to share lots of what she finds with the rest of us: Ā Wendy’s Wizard of Oz (10 years old) Vocabulary words from the movie, and a lot more to love if you are a true lover of the movie.

And The Wizard of is a fun site, the old fashioned style with lots of care and enthusiasm put into all the information it offers.

I also wanted to get a Cruller recipe, see below. I didn’t find any in my grandmother’s old cookbooks, but they really are basically fried donuts. They are whatĀ Auntie Em served the farmhands and Dorothy before the storm.

Albert’s Favorite Doughnuts

The old cookbook gives absolutely no indication who “Albert” is; he might be Mrs. Ziegler’s husband. But, since these are his favorite doughnuts, we can assume they must be good!

One pint sour milk, one cup sugar, two eggs, one teaspoon soda, half cup lard, nutmeg to flavor; mix [with flour] to a moderately stiff dough, roll to half inch in thickness, cut in rings or twists, drop into boiling lard, and fry to a light brown. –Mrs. A. F. Ziegler

So, if I were a collector what would I want that’s associated with my favorite movie of all time?Ā \

  • A full sizeĀ replica of the hour glass the witch uses to emotionally torture Dorothy in the castle.
  • AĀ scale model of Professor Marvel’s wagon.
  • A big chunky ring with the ruby slippers on it. What can I say, I like the slippers!!
  • A poster of the death certificate of the wicked witch of the east
  • That’s it folks, start your holiday shopping now:)

I could go on for hours and hours just talking about different aspects of my love affair with this movie, but I won’t. I’ll save that for my husband, lucky guy.

Audio & Video: 10/10
The Wizard Of Oz is 70 years old and on Blu-Ray it looks amazing, I really can’t express in words how good it actually looks but suffice to say it’s everything I thought it would be and more.

Warner have digitally restored the image from an 8K scan of the original camera print which is a painstaking process that really paid off here. Colors are rich, blacks are black and there are details in the movie that you will have not seen on previous viewings due to the increased resolution Blu-Ray allows.

Audio is impressive but not in the way modern movies are. The remixed 5.1 True HD soundtrack stays faithful to the original track but adds a little extra ooomph during the tornado scene. All the musical numbers are crisp, rich and sound perfect. There are no crackly passages. Everything sounds pristine its like hearing the movie with a new set of ears.

Overall The Wizard Of Oz 70th Anniversary Edition is in the running for best Blu-Ray transfer of the year. It really is an incredible achievement and everyone should have this important release in there collection. With the advent of Blu-Ray it seems we are not in Kansas anymore!

Value: 10/10
If you find this amazing collection for between $50 and $60 anywhere anytime, that is a good price! Now, remember, I’m biased because this is my lifelong favorite movie…HOWEVER if they had tried to rip us off with a $100 price tag or something ridiculous, I would have resisted (and hoped someone bought it for me as a gift :)) This is an incredible compilation of all things Oz and I am thrilled to have it on my shelf.

Overall Score 10/10

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