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Commentary

Reasons abound to love the land of Oz

Just some of the reasons why we love the land of Oz:

1. L. Frank Baum wrote 1900’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” as what he called a “modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out.”

2. The Oscar-winning Original Score for 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz”; and the Oscar-winning Song, “Over the Rainbow,” as performed by Judy Garland in a way that has often been imitated but never duplicated. That tune is alive with yearning, optimism and dreamy hope.

3. Moviegoers clamored to follow the yellow brick road. Film history tells us that lines started to form outside the Loew’s Capitol Theater in New York at 5:30 a.m., and by 8 a.m., the box office opened to 15,000 waiting patrons.

4. The shivers and shudders some adults still feel when they see and hear the cackle of the Wicked Witch of the West.

5. It’s the most-watched film in history, according to the Library of Congress.

6. Talk about a happy accident. A 1989 story by Eleanor Ringel of Cox News Service, timed to the movie’s golden anniversary, noted that “Oz” was sold to TV almost as an afterthought. CBS hoped to lease “Gone With the Wind” for $1 million, but MGM said no, instead offering “Oz” for $225,000 and an option to broadcast it yearly. The rights later passed to other networks, including TCM, TBS and TNT.

7. The allure of the ruby slippers – called “The Silver Shoes” in the book – and all they signify. Dorothy learns that the slippers have powers and if she knocks the heels together three times and commands the shoes, she can return home.

8. The story lives on in so many ways, from favorite Halloween costumes (Dorothy’s outfit is a lot more forgiving than, say, Catwoman’s) to tie-in toys, “Wicked” and high-school musicals.

9. Its simple, timeless message about how “There’s no place like home.”

10. That quote was one of three from the movie that were chosen by the American Film Institute in 2005 for its list of the 100 greatest movie lines. It was No. 23 while “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” was No. 4. Placing 99th on the list was this threat: “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!”

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