AFI Movie Club: THE WIZARD OF OZ – American Film Institute



AFI Movie Club begins today – and THE WIZARD OF OZ is our inaugural film!


Watch Steven Spielberg introduce our first title:


From the AFI Archive, watch Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft on the first time they saw the film:


Perhaps the most famous and best loved family film ever made, THE WIZARD OF OZ stars Judy Garland as Dorothy, and features the #1 song on AFI’s Top 100 Songs and is #3 on AFI’s Top 100 MusicalsTell us which song from THE WIZARD OF OZ is your favorite. Share it in the comments section below or on social media using the hashtag #AFIMovieClub.


Movie Trivia about THE WIZARD OF OZ

DID YOU KNOW that THE WIZARD OF OZ wasn’t the first adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s beloved books? Starting as early as 1902, audiences traveled to the wonderful world of Oz quite a few times and in quite a few different ways – on stage, on film and in animation – before Judy Garland ever traveled over the rainbow!

DID YOU KNOW that Dorothy’s iconic footwear was actually a pair of silver slippers in L. Frank Baum’s original books? “Ruby” looked so much more magical in glorious Technicolor!

DID YOU KNOW that Jack Haley wasn’t originally going to play Tin Man? Buddy Ebsen was the first actor cast in the role, but had to be replaced when he discovered that he was allergic to the silver make-up!

DID YOU KNOW that director Victor Fleming is credited not just with transporting audiences to Oz in 1939, but also with another iconic film that very same year? It was GONE WITH THE WIND, also featured prominently across AFI’s lists of the greatest American films!

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions 

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below. 

-How old were you the first time you saw THE WIZARD OF OZ? What do you remember about seeing it for the first time?

-THE WIZARD OF OZ has been pervasive throughout culture since its release in 1939. Can you think of any times – outside of the film itself – that you’ve heard any of its iconic quotes?

-Did you notice that the beginning and end of THE WIZARD OF OZ are filmed in black-and-white sepia tones – and that the film only transitions to color once Dorothy reaches Oz?

-Why do you think they presented the film this way?

-Have you ever seen any other films in black-and-white?

-Why do you think THE WIZARD OF OZ is still so beloved after more than 80 years?

-How would you rate THE WIZARD OF OZ?


New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

In this time when we are reminded “There’s no place like home,” AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film – announced by a special guest – is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.


How to Watch THE WIZARD OF OZ Now:  View options


Comments (9)

Gabriel Bryant

This is such a magnificent movie musical. It is a miracle that this film is as incredible as it is. The troubled production went through four directors and multiple script rewrites. Thankfully, the talent involved made this film into an cinematic experience that will last forever.

General Public Users, Do not delete

love this idea. thank you AFI and Stephen speilberg

Juan Manuel

Fabulosa idea

Joyce Stano

Thank you , you make my favorite movies and so glad to see classic movies
Thanks so much

Steven R. Buchanan

This movie was to 1939, what Star Wars was to 1977. The combination of a timeless storyline, innovative shooting techniques, a lovable cast and an immortal soundtrack will do it every time.

Aleta Owen

Wizard of Oz is my favorite movie of all time. It can always bring me out of my sadness. I know the lines and lyrics by heart. Over the rainbow is my mantra. I’ve tried to instill my kids n grandkids as a tradition. I will watch it every time I can. I’ve worn 5 DVDs out going on my 6th. As long as I can watch or listen, I will. To those who haven’t seen it,plz do. Everyone has a different interpretation. I’m blessed to have been gvn this to help me.

Clay Brice

This movie is such a classic. I can remember watching the film during Thanksgiving on TV. This film is definitely a must for any movie lover. Thank you AFI & Steven Spielberg for introducing the AFI Movie Club!

Kelvin Cedeño

The Wizard of Oz is my all-time favorite film, but can you believe that despite loving it for 30 years, I didn’t come to this realization until last year?

I was introduced to Oz not through the yearly television airings like many folks were, but via the 50th anniversary VHS which I received as a present for my 3rd birthday. I have fond memories of watching that tape if not every day, then certainly a few times a week for I don’t know how long. I laugh when I see people reminisce about how terrified they were of the witch or the flying monkeys (like Judy’s kids in the video above) because the film itself never scared me. Curiously, I was scared of the bonus material at the end of my copy. I found the narrator’s voice creepy, and the makeup tests of Buddy Ebsen as the Tin Man were horrifying to me (they still give me goosebumps to this day). It didn’t help that the entire tape ended with the extended version of “If I Only Had a Brain,” with the Scarecrow dropping down on the ground seemingly lifeless as we faded to black.

And yet I always watched that tape no matter what. I think I subconsciously related to Dorothy because I, too, was surrounded by adults who didn’t have time for me and felt I should be seen and not heard. Judy Garland always poured her heart into every project she did, and that earnestness not only makes Dorothy such an endearing character, but it’s made Judy my all-time favorite entertainer.

The film gets overlooked so often as a musical, but the songs are all so perfectly embedded into the narrative the way a proper musical should, driving the story forward and giving us more insight into our characters. “Over the Rainbow” remains my favorite song of all time. The tone is also perfect in that there are equal dollops of cheery optimism and angsty drama so that the film is never too saccharine nor too bleak. And, of course, it’s one of the most gorgeous looking films ever shot in Technicolor.

Oz was a distraction for me when I re-discovered it in middle school. Middle school for me wasn’t an easy time as I was rather offbeat and flamboyant by nature, and that led to a lot of bullying. The film helped me escape during that time and acted as a sort of comfort food during my low points.

Over the years, I’ve seen The Wizard of Oz seven times theatrically (including in IMAX 3D, live in concert, and in Dolby Cinema) and own seven copies of it on different formats. When I went on my first TCM Classic Film cruise last year, I dressed as the Cowardly Lion during their Halloween party. And yet despite all this, I didn’t realize Oz was my favorite film until two things happened. One: I watched it several times throughout last year for its 80th anniversary, noticing how I could keep watching it and never zone out like I occasionally do with other films I adore but have been countless times Two: During a discussion of our favorite films in my movie club, The Wizard of Oz just sort of came out of me as a reflex without my thinking about it. I liken my relationship to this movie like if it were a person. It was always there for me even when I had relationships with other films I thought might be the one, but then I turned around and realized it was Oz. It was always Oz. And I had to look no further for it than my own backyard.

Carla Jerosch

Hoy can I watch a movie on AFI?

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