The Wizard of Oz
The 1999 Oz disc was crammed full of magical extras — deleted scenes, documentaries, screen tests. The package was so pristine it was named EW’s DVD of the year. You can now throw it away. That’s because an exhaustive new set featuring all this plus oodles more proves as precious as Dorothy’s ruby slippers.
Following the yellow brick road of The Wizard of Oz through all three discs takes about 15 hours, but it’s a journey every film buff should make. A plethora of docs cover Toto’s real gender (he is actually a she), the feminist interpretation of the film (beyond Toto, of course), and ”the advent of a breakthrough technology — lip-synching.” And the five previous versions of Oz include a slapsticky entry from 1925 with Oliver Hardy as the Tin Woodsman and a truly bizarre ending in which the Scarecrow apparently plunges to his death (talk about brainless).
The film looks fabulous thanks to a fancy-schmancy process called Ultra-Resolution (there’s a doc on that too), and features a top-notch track of old interviews with the cast and poor Buddy Ebsen, who was bumped from the role of Scarecrow and then forced to bow out as the Tin Man after having an allergic reaction to the aluminum-dust makeup. ”They thought I bore a grudge and now I was going to get even with them,” says Ebsen. ”They never quite believed that I was really sick.” What’s truly sick is the astounding wealth of information and archival footage here. As Peter Jackson says in one of the extras, ”You can feel the heart and care that’s gone into every frame of that film.” You could say the same for the entire package.