The Wizard Of Oz

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Details At A Glance

Category Family Theatrical Trailers (5)
Featurette - The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz: The Making Of A Movie Classic
Outtakes and Deleted Scenes (5)

Behind The Scenes:
Gallery - Sketches and Storyboards
Gallery - Costume and Make Up Tests
Gallery - Portrait Gallery
Gallery - Special Effects Stills
Featurette - Harold Arlen Home Movies
Featurette - Special Effects Sequences (6)
Featurette - Texas Contest Winners promotional film excerpt
Featurette - Romance of Celluloid short excerpt
Trailer - Loew's Cairo Trailer (easter egg)
Gallery - Post Production Stills

Oz History:
Featurette - excerpt from 1914 silent film His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz
Featurette - excerpt from 1925 silent film The Wizard Of Oz
Featurette - excerpt from Ted Eshbaugh's 1933 cartoon

Oz Afterlife:
1979 interviews with Margaret Hamilton, Ray Bolger and Jack Haley
Gallery - Original Publicity Stills
Gallery - New York Premiere Stills
Gallery - Hollywood Premiere Stills
Gallery - 1939/40 Oscar Ceremonies Stills
Gallery - Oz Abroad Stills
Featurette - Off To See The Wizard
Featurette - Excerpt from 1939 Cavalcade of Academy Winners

Audio Supplements:
The Jukebox - Assorted songs - rehearsals, alternate takes
MGM Radio Show - Good News Of 1939
MGM Promotional Radio Trailer - Leo Is In The Air

Year Released 1939
Running Time 97:39 minutes
RSDL/Flipper Dual Layer
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Victor Fleming
Warner Home Video
Starring Judy Garland
Frank Morgan
Ray Bolger 
Bert Lahr 
Jack Haley 
Billie Burke
Margaret Hamilton
Charley Grapewin
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music Herbert Stothart

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 1.0, 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0, 192 Kb/s)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    After what seems like endless release sheets of mainly mediocrity, Warner Home Video have taken a big plunge and come up with a comparatively staggering collection of classic films in its September release list, including The Big Sleep, Key Largo, one of the truly all time great films in The Maltese Falcon and the greatest family film of all time in The Wizard Of Oz. Whilst there have been plenty of good films released in Region 4, I would be battling to recall four films of this stature being released in the same month from the same distributor. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a big lead up to Christmas in terms of the quality of titles we can expect to see.

    It seems somewhat poetic in many respects that the first time I ever get to see The Wizard Of Oz in all its glory is on its DVD release. Yes, I have never seen the film in its entirety before. In many respects I am glad that this was the first occasion that I have seen the film, because this is a very special DVD to complement a very special film.

    I am not going to bother providing a plot synopsis for the very simple reason that there is absolutely nothing that I could possibly add to the plethora of words that have been written about this film and its cast and crew. Even if there was anything I could have added, believe me when I say it has been pretty well covered by arguably the greatest collection of extras added to a Region 4 DVD.

    The Wizard Of Oz sits solidly in the Internet Movie Database Top 50 of all time and was voted as the greatest family film of all time by the American Film Institute. Need anything more be added, other than to say - why have you not yet bought this film on DVD? Oh, of course, you are waiting for this review. Well, read on.

Transfer Quality


    The wonders that Warners can perform on older films never ceases to amaze me when it comes to video transfers. Michael D's words were "the movie looks sensational". I am not going to disagree with his assessment. Considering that this is a sixty-one year old film, the transfer looks quite amazing.

    The original aspect ratio of the film is 1.37:1, which equates very readily with the 1.33:1 aspect ratio of modern televisions that this transfer is presented at. It is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    Apart from a few minor lapses where the image is just a little diffuse, and I am suspecting that these are inherent faults in the source material, there is little to complain about with the video transfer. It is nicely sharp, without ever demonstrating any edge enhancement, and presents a very nicely detailed image. Whilst not the epitome of detail, certain allowances do have to be made for the fact that it is 61 years old and so shadow detail could perhaps have been just a tad better, but there is nothing to really worry anyone other than the most extremely fastidious in this regard. The transfer is quite clear other than those sequences involving special effects. As is quite common for films of this era, the effects are quite passé by current standards (wires anyone?), but the main problem is that they are usually accompanied by a little more grain in the picture than would be expected in more modern films. There did not seem to be any low level noise problems with the transfer.

    Knowing how badly I am affected by the over-rich colour of Technicolor films of the 1940s, I was a little reticent coming into the review session for this DVD. To say I was surprised by the colour is something of an understatement. This is a beautiful palette of colours that does not in any way get over-rich in tone and certainly does not in any way approach oversaturation. This is a beautiful-looking and nicely-balanced palette that whilst not especially vibrant is nonetheless thoroughly engaging and wonderfully conveys the fantasy aspect of the film. The colours are also remarkably consistent. The initial part of the film and the very end are in sepia-toned black and white and this looks as good as it has ever done I would suggest.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There was something of an aliasing problem in Dorothy's dress during the opening sepia sequences to the film, but apart from some minor aliasing during the colour sequences, this was the extent of the film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. For a film of this age, this is remarkably free from film artefacts and the only really noticeable patch was during the earlier sepia sequence in the film - which was anything but disruptive in the overall scheme of things.

    This is a dual layer format DVD, but in the absence of there being any noticeable layer change I am suspecting that the film is mastered on one layer with the extras filling out everything else.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Purists may be horrified to see that the English soundtrack is a Dolby Digital 5.1 effort, but rest assured that this is a superbly crafted effort that really does not destroy the 1939 feel of the film. This is one of the most tastefully done 5.1 remasters that I can recall hearing.

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD, being the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack. I stuck with the English soundtrack for the simple reason that there was so much else to view here that I did not have time to check out the other audio tracks.

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout, as are all the song vocals.

    There did not appear to be any hint at all of audio sync problems with the transfer.

    The musical score comes from Herbert Stothart and is such an integral part of the film that it is doubtful that the film would have been the same without it. It won the Oscar for Best Musical Score in a year that saw many great films released, so its merits are not to be doubted. The songs came from the pen of E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen and some eternal classics are here: none more so than the song that is so much associated with Judy Garland, Over The Rainbow, which won the Oscar for Best Song.

    Even though this is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, you would not really notice it as the remastering has really been done in a quite subtle way so as to enhance the original soundtrack without destroying its classic status. There is subtle surround channel use to emphasize sequences like the tornado, but nothing that results in an unnatural sounding effort at all. The bass channel gets very little use here and is very rarely used for minor subtle support. This is all very tastefully done, and so what could have turned into a very bombastic effort is actually a very restrained remaster that retains a lot of the original character of the film. It is a nicely open soundtrack without any hint of congestion at all. Marvellous stuff indeed for a sixty one year old film soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    And you thought you had seen extras! Well, I have seen some laden efforts in my time, but there are few that can compare with this effort and still be contained on one disc! Personally, I think this is the best package in quality and quantity to grace a Region 4 DVD thus far. Now if only we could get this sort of commitment from Warners on a more regular basis!


    Nicely vibrant but something of a wolf in sheep's clothing in hiding an awful lot of the extras content until a couple of levels in.

Theatrical Trailers (5)

    Yes, there are indeed five of them, all presented in a full frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound, apart from the most recent effort which has Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. All of are quite decent quality. The trailers comprise:

Featurette - The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz: The Making Of A Classic Film (50:54)

    Narrated by Angela Lansbury, this is a wonderful look at the making of the film that will have Oz devotees in raptures. Some of the wonderful (and tragic) stories here include casting difficulties and studio differences over the style of certain characters. If you don't find this an interesting 50 minutes, I would doubt that you would ever find any extra on any DVD of any interest. The image at times is a little diffuse and there is evidence of some blockiness in the transfer. Presented in a full frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound, if this were the only extra on the DVD it would still make it an essential purchase. But wait, there is more...

Outtakes and Deleted Scenes (5)

    These comprise:     Like almost everything else on the extras front, the format for all sequences is full frame, not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound. Most of this is priceless and well worthy of inclusion here even if the video quality for The Jitterbug (rightly dropped from the film in my view) is not exactly the best. And still there is more...

Behind The Scenes

    These comprise:     The format for all sequences is full frame, not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound (except for the Romance of Celluloid, which comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound). Although the link for inclusion of some items is a little tenuous, you cannot accuse Warners of not including everything they could lay their hands on! The quality is generally pretty good although some of the photographs do display cross colouration problems. And still there is more...

Oz History

    These comprise:     The format for all sequences is full frame, not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound (where needed!). Definitely for Oz completists only I would think! Technically actually quite decent. And still there is more... more...

Oz Afterlife

    Yes, we keep on going! These comprise:     The format for all sequences is full frame, not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound. Definitely more for Oz completists only, and I really am lost as to why the Off To See The Wizard stuff is included. And still there is more...

Audio Only Supplements

    And you may finally get to the end after listening to this collection! To be honest, I have not yet listened to it all and cannot actually attest to how long it is as I simply have had to take breaks in listening and have lost track of the timing. The packaging claims it to be 5 hours and 58 minutes worth, and I am not going to argue based upon how long I have been listening so far (nor am I going to relisten to it all just to get an accurate timing either). The format is straight audio over the relevant menu page. These comprise:     This is all very fascinating stuff based upon what I have heard and, as long as taken in smallish doses, can be revelled in as a reminder of how things used to be. And yes that is the whole extras package!

R4 vs R1

    Whilst in a package of this size, something might have been missed, as far as I can ascertain this is pretty much identical to the Region 1 release in all major respects. Given that, Region 4 would be the region of choice owing to PAL formatting and better packaging (transparent Amaray case vs snapper case).


    What more needs to be said? The Wizard Of Oz is an essential film that should be in every collection. In a rare instance, the film has been given an extras package that it truly deserves making it even more of an essential purchase, especially for Oz fanatics. Whatever you do, just go out and get this DVD. I am very, very, very tempted to induct it into the Hall Of Fame as I doubt that we will ever see a better looking 61 year old film, and certainly doubt that we will see an extras package of this magnitude for a film of this vintage.

    A very good video transfer for its age.

    A very good audio transfer for its age, tastefully remastered with reverence.

    An unbelievable extras package that really deserves six stars!

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
11th September 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL