Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nowhere over the rainbow

Everybody loves The Wizard of Oz, and TCM are showing it overnight tonight at 12:15 AM ET (that's late this evening in the Central Time Zone and points west). You know Judy Garland; Billie Burke as Glinda the Good Witch; and Margaret Hamilton shrieking, "I'm melting! Melting!!!". However, 12:15 AM Monday is the slot for TCM's Silent Sunday Nights, and the version of The Wizard of Oz they're showing is a silent version released in 1925.

It's got little to do with the movie that's now considered a classic. Dorothy Dwan plays Dorothy, who in this movie is purportedly the heir to the throne in Oz. The evil Prime Minister doesn't want her to sit on the throne, and he'll stop at nothing to prevent her from taking her rightful place. Sure, Dorothy gets helped by a tin man, a scarecrow, and a lion. Parts of the movie are set in Kansas, and there's even a tornado. But don't expect anything like Judy Garland or MGM's dazzling Technicolor spectacle in this one.

In fact, the movie largely gets poor reviews. Part of it is deserved; the movie has its problems. The story is problematic, and the movie can't quite decide what it wants to be. But I can't help but think there are a lot of people who remember the 1939 version fondly -- as it deserves to be remembered -- and rate the silent version on how well it compares to the classic. At any rate, this version is certainly of interest to anybody who's a fan of The Wizard of Oz, just as the later The Wiz would be. That, however, isn't all. This movie has Oliver Hardy (without Stan Laurel) in the Tin Man role (and some others), a fact which by itself makes the movie worth seeing once just as a curiosity.

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