Researchers at the University of Turin, who analyzed data from the Internet Movie Database on 47,000 movies, recently came up with a list of the top 20 most influential films. The Wizard of Oz is number one!
According to The Guardian, the scientists' objective was “to measure the success of a movie by accounting how much it has influenced other movies produced after its release, from both the artistic and the economic point of view.”
Those of us who grew up watching the beloved movie, entranced by the bright colors of Munchkinland and terrified of the flying monkeys, adoring Judy Garland as Dorothy and singing all the songs, no doubt agree with this study.
Director Joel Coen told journalist Elvis Mitchell that, “Every movie ever made is an attempt to remake The Wizard of Oz.” What the inscrutable Coen meant by that is impossible to say, but clearly every filmmaker needs to create a world, and no movie before or since created a world quite like Oz.
The film has had a huge influence on all of pop culture and on everyday life. We constantly quote from The Wizard of Oz, usually without even thinking about it. “It’s a twister!” or “That’s a horse of a different color.” “Poppies…poppies…” or “I’ll miss you most of all.” Perhaps “we’re not in Kansas anymore” is the most frequently quoted line of all, especially in these trying times.
Of course, there’s Wicked, the book by Gregory Maguire which brilliantly gave us the point of view of the Witch of the West, and then became one of the most popular musicals of all time. The show is still running today, and in fact was recently in the news because on January 10, an African-American understudy for Glinda became the first black actress to portray the Good Witch on Broadway.
More recent Oz news: Right now, there’s a Louis Vuitton pop-up show in New York that features Wizard-themed items, including the “Brick Road” crewneck sweater, poppies-and-Dorothy-emblazoned windbreaker and a metallic silver poncho inspired by the Tin Man.
A new novel by Elizabeth Letts called Finding Dorothy will be published in February, and explores the life of L. Frank Baum’s wife Maud, and her involvement in the making of the film as the author’s widow.
Meanwhile, the original handwritten script for The Wizard of Oz, by Noel Langley, recently sold for $1.28 million at auction. And Oz and its star, Judy Garland, made news last week when a new musical about the early life of Garland called Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz, was announced. It’s the first stage, film, or television property about the life of Judy Garland to receive the endorsement of the Garland Estate, and hopefully will prove as amazing as it sounds.
Clearly, The Wizard of Oz continues to be a part of our world! Thanks to The Daily Ozmapolitan, a blog that tracks references to The Wizard of Oz in pop culture.
2019 marks the 80th anniversary of the 1939 MGM film’s release, and we’ll no doubt see it celebrated in many ways. The Cape Symphony and Cotuit Center for the Arts are proud to be a part of that celebration with our own production of The Wizard of Oz in Concert. You won’t want to miss this extraordinary event – visit capesymphony.org or call 508.362.1111.