I’ve been a long time Film Experience reader, but here’s my first nervous entry into Nathaniel’s Best Shot series.
The Wizard of Oz. The whole thing is just so gorgeous in its Technicolor saturation and complete dedication to its fantasy world. Dorothy opening the door to Munchkin Land ranks high as one of the most impressive, important, memorable moments in film. What comes before that moment is just as important to the story. The Kansas scenes set the story in motion and are highly entertaining in and of themselves. It’s strange to think that the entire thing was filmed in sound stages in Culver City, it’s so alive and large. The complete transportation of the audience is at it’s most perfect during the Kansas scenes. It is so expansively empty. It takes you directly to another world. It’s sepia. It’s living Depression photos. And yet it still holds a power that draws Dorothy back to it. It’s home. It’s Auntie Em. It’s stability and nostalgia.
And so for me, this is it: Dorothy hitting the road.
My other favorites: The first appearance of Prof. Marvel’s wagon. The entrance of “magic” into the story.
So many images have become so iconic, Dorothy and Toto sitting on the farm tractor, the vivid Munchkin Land, the four new friends skipping down the Yellow Brick Road leading to the Emerald City. There are also some very frightening images, especially those associated with Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch.
The chaos of the Witch’s entrance.
Her striking black against the fantastic color. I also love the detail of the Kansas farmhouse, which is easy to miss.
Her first fire assault of our heroes. Fire looks so great in Technicolor.
She hurls her hourglass at the feet of her guards from this strange angle, a looming eagle statue over her shoulder.
I always found her glee at burning her broom to ignite the Scarecrow horrific. She has it right in our faces and she’s laughing about it.
But mostly, as a Tin Woodman fan, it’s all about Jack Haley’s face. His expressions are so endearing and hilarious.