‘Wizard of Oz’ returns to big screen for 80th-anniversary stint |

‘Wizard of Oz’ returns to big screen for 80th-anniversary stint

Candy Williams

All the magic of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” the scary Wicked Witch of the West, those creepy flying monkeys and the adventurous Dorothy that generations of little girls dreamed of being is coming back to the big screen.

Four Pittsburgh area movie theaters will be among nearly 700 nationwide that will participate in a three-day re-release of “The Wizard of Oz” by Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) for the iconic film’s 80th anniversary celebration.

Special screenings will take place Jan. 27, 29 and 30 at Cinemark 17 Pittsburgh Mills, Cinemark Robinson Township, Cinemark Monroeville Mall and Southside Works Cinema.

Hollywood greats

The movie, originally released in 1939, was one of the first feature films created in Technicolor. It featured all-star performances by Hollywood greats Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charlie Grapewin, Clara Bandick and, of course, the unforgettable “Munchkins” and a little dog named Toto.

Little wonder that the movie has been called “the most influential film of all time.”

Marc Fleming, vice president of marketing, communications and Broadway programming for Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, shared his thoughts on why “The Wizard of Oz” is one of America’s most enduring classics.

“The film is timeless and so popular because it taps into our fears, desires and values,” he said.

‘Wicked’ inspiration

“As theater is all about bringing us on a journey, Dorothy’s amazing journey was a natural translation to the stage,” he says. “Like so many other great tales, it provides a basis for adaptations to emerge with titles such as ‘The Wiz’ and, of course, ‘Wicked.’

“Also interesting is how incredibly relevant the story of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ has remained in our time, with all of the truly powerful figures being female,” he adds

Anthony Marino, artistic director of Stage Right Professional Theater Company, Greensburg, says the film is “just so much fun. You hear that music and you are instantly sucked into a story that, if you really step back and examine it, has a ton of very crazy and sophisticated stuff going on.

“The world of Oz is as compelling and interesting as any modern-day fantasy film,” he says. “Then there’s that whole thing about whether it’s a dream or not at the end. As a kid and an adult, you want it to have all been real.”

Be a kid again

Marino says that, by simply turning on “The Wizard of Oz” at any point, “Immediately you are immersed into feeling like a kid again. You’re 8 in your PJs and there is no craziness you have to face or deal with. You get to be a kid for three hours again.”

Screenings of “The Wizard of Oz” will be accompanied by commentary from TCM Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz before and after the film.

“Southside Works Cinema is thrilled that Fathom Events is starting this year’s Turner Classic Movies on the Big Screen series with truly one of the most iconic classics of all time,” says David Huffman, director of marketing for the Southside cinema. “ ‘The Wizard of Oz’ remains hugely popular with fans of all ages, thanks to its timeless qualities and incredible songs.”

Movie times at the four area theaters can be found at .

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review
contributing writer.

From left: Ray Bolger as Scarecrow, Bert Lahr as Cowardly Lion, Judy Garland as Dorothy and Jack Haley as Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz,” celebrating its 80th anniversary with screenings at area theaters.