The Wizard of Oz (Film)

The Wizard of Oz (Film) Study Guide

The Wizard of Oz remains, to this day, one of the most iconic American films of all time. Production was complicated and huge in scale, with a revolving door of directors coming in to work on the film, an ambitious undertaking unprecedented in filmmaking history at that time. Norman Taurog was the first director to try his hand at adapting L. Frank Baum's beloved children's book The Wizard of Oz, but was soon replaced by Richard Thorpe. Thorpe was then replaced briefly by George Cukor, who changed many elements, most notably Judy Garland's appearance and performance. Cukor acted more as an advisor than anything, and soon enough had left to direct Gone with the Wind. Victor Fleming, the man credited with making the film what it became, took his place, before leaving production early himself, also to direct Gone with the Wind. King Vidor finished The Wizard of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz faced many challenges and went through countless changes during filming. In addition to the many directors who worked on the film, countless writers were contacted to set the text of the film. Among the writers who wrote versions of (different portions of) the film were Herman J. Mankiewicz, Noel Langley, the poet Ogden Nash, Irving Brecher, Herbert Fields, Arthur Freed, Yip Harburg, Samuel Hoffenstein, Jack Mintz, Sid Silvers, Richard Thorpe, and George Cukor. Mervyn LeRoy was ultimately credited as the screenwriter. A number of the actors were also replaced. Notably, Shirley Temple was the first actress to be considered for the role of Dorothy. Buddy Ebsen was replaced by Jack Haley in the role of the Tin Man, as Ebsen had an allergic reaction to the metallic makeup required for the character.

The film was an instant classic, notable for its beautiful use of Technicolor in the scenes set in Oz, striking in contrast from the sepia tint of scenes set in dreary Kansas. After a number of test screenings, the film was released, receiving acclaim for its fantastical elements, its art direction, performances, music, and spectacle. "Over the Rainbow," a song by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and became one of the most famous standards in music history.