The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film directed by Victor Fleming, among several other uncredited directors, and based on the 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. The film features Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, Jack Haley as the Tin Woodman, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, Billie Burke as Glinda the Good Witch of the North, Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West, and Frank Morgan as the Wizard.
Initially, The Wizard of Oz was considered a commercial flop compared alongside its budget. However, the film received much attention after frequent television screenings and has since become one of the most beloved films of all time. It is often ranked among the top ten best movies of all-time in various critics' and popular polls, and has provided as many indelible quotes to American cultural consciousness as any other film in history. Its signature song, "Over the Rainbow," sung by Judy Garland, has been voted the greatest movie song of all time by the American Film Institute.
The film expands the Kansas section, creating several characters (the farmhands, Miss Gulch, and Professor Marvel) who do not appear in the book. It also interprets the Oz experience as a dream, in which many of the characters that Dorothy meets represent the people from her home life. By contrast, in the book, her adventures in Oz are unambiguously meant to be real.
Nearly all of the Kansas characters have matching counterparts in Oz, and therefore most of the cast playing characters in Kansas play matching characters in Oz. Frank Morgan plays Professor Marvel, the Wizard, and several other people in the land of Oz. Margaret Hamilton plays both Miss Gulch and The Witch of The West. Ray Bolger plays Hunk and The Scarecrow. Jack Haley plays Hickory and The Tinman while Bert Lahr plays Zeke and The Lion.
Though the final film was far more faithful to Baum's original book than many earlier scripts (see below), the movie still had several notable differences. Due to time restraints a number of sub-plots from the book were cut. Likewise, some characters were merged or simplified for the purposes of the movie's plot. The film's character of Glinda is actually a composite of two book characters, the (nameless) Good Witch of the North and Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, who does not appear in the novel until the very end. In contrast, Dorothy's family is given a much larger role in the film than in the novel. A notable visual change made to the film was the changing of Dorothy's Silver Shoes to Ruby Slippers, to make them visually dazzling against the yellow brick road on the Technicolor screens.
The Wicked Witch of the West was much more cowardly in the novel, afraid of the dark, never left her castle, and carried an umbrella rather than a broom, for water would cause her to melt. She was also missing an eye, covered with a patch, with the other described "as powerful as a telescope". Perhaps the most severe change is that of Dorothy becoming a damsel in distress figure needing to be rescued by her male friends. In the novel, Dorothy administers the rescue of her friends after she has dispatched the witch. Her behavior toward the witch in the novel is much more aggressive; in the novel, the Silver Shoes can be taken off with no harm, and the witch trips Dorothy in order to be able to do this. Outraged, Dorothy deliberately douses her with the bucket of water, though still unaware that this will cause the Witch to melt.