Judy Garland

The Wizard of Oz/Pinocchio

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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann

With its big budget, and with overseas markets closed due to the beginning of World War II, The Wizard of Oz, amazingly, was not a financial success during its initial theatrical run in 1939. Over the years, however, it became both a film classic and a perennial moneymaker for MGM, especially after the arrival of television and annual network broadcasts that attracted a new generation of young fans. Yet there had never been a real original soundtrack album. (Decca Records had put together what it confusingly called an "original cast album" in 1940, using two Judy Garland studio recordings and other versions of the songs sung by a chorus.) In 1956, MGM Records finally assembled this LP, which is simply an edited version of the actual film soundtrack. The picture ran 101 minutes, and the album cuts that down to 40, including the major songs "Over the Rainbow," "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead," "We're Off to See the Wizard," "If I Only Had a Brain" (or "a heart" or "the nerve"), and "If I Were King of the Forest." Lots of Herbert Stothart's Academy Award-winning score is heard accompanying the dialogue by Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Margaret Hamilton, Billie Burke, and others, including such timeless lines as "Toto, I have feeling we're not in Kansas anymore"; "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain"; and, finally, "There's no place like home." The lists of songs shown on the labels of the LP do not conform to the contents of the disc, which simply goes from one scene to another without breaks. The editor has done a good job of conveying the main plot of the film, which is easy to follow, and of preserving the highlights of the music. (Too bad there wasn't room for the "Lions and tigers and bears! Oh, my!" chant, though.)

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