The Wizard of Oz is a classic film from an era when American studios were confident and breaking ground (within the discipline imposed by the Hays Office). Stuffed with now-amiliar tropes -- the yellow brick road, the wicked witch, the emerald city -- and a supply of often-quoted lines, famous songs, and gags, the film is probably as entertaining now as it was in 1939.

Oz was groundbreaking in a number of ways, most obviously in its visual impact. Movies in color had been made for a while, but most films in 1939 were still in black and white, so the gimmick of beginning in B&W and shifting to Technicolor was very effective. Some of the special effects were advanced at the time (and are still one of the movie's strengths). One of the most famous sequences, the tornado which sweeps across the farm fields, was created by filming a windsock being blown around by electric fans. It's more realistic and believable than the computer-generated tornadoes in the movie Twister, made 57 years later. That's progress.

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