posted by Joe Anaya on March 18th, 2013

In the theaters Oz, The Great and Powerful, is playing as a prequel to the beloved family movie The Wizard of Oz. Thankfully, Disney wasn’t crazy enough to try and remake one of the best family movies ever. Many of our generation have cherished memories of The Wizard of Oz movie. When literature snobs like to complain that movies are never as good as the book. I’ll always trot out The Wizard of Oz as an example of how some movies are better than the book. (The actual book has no theme to speak of, things happen randomly, and Dorothy throws water on the witch in a fit of anger not to protect her friend. But I digress.)

As a child, the broadcast of The Wizard of Oz was an event. We didn’t grow up with video stores or VHS or DVD or Bluray or Torrent files or instant downloads. If you really liked a movie, you only got to watch it when one of the three broadcast networks decided to air it. Remember how excited you were during the holidays because Frosty the Snowman was going to be on? Remember how disappointed your mom was when she missed The Sound of Music? You couldn’t just pop in a movie because the mood hit you. Having to wait a year till the next time it was on made it special some how. I miss that feeling.

I asked my son, “How many times have you seen The Wizard of Oz?” He replied, “A bunch of times.” Well it turns out “a bunch of times” to him is 3. I’ve seen it in its entirety at least 15 times. Growing up, The Wizard of Oz was an annual event. I remember watching it every year for years from 3-years old to at least 13. After that, I’m sure I was too cool to sit and watch a kids movie until I got into my twentys. I excitedly scanned the TV Guide and founnd the day, then folded the page and circled the date on the calendar and wrote, in big block letters “OZ.” The family would gather around and tell me when to cover my eyes. Always at the same parts: when Miss Gulch rides her bike past the tornado-lofted house and turns into the Wicked Witch of the West; when the flying monkeys attack the gang in the haunted forest, and when in the crystal-ball Aunt Em turns into the Wicked Witch of the West. Apparently, I had a fear of normal people turning into scary things.

My wife tells of how every year when The Wizard of Oz came on, the neighbors would all gather at Mr. Howie’s house, because he had a color television. All the neighborhood kids were gathered around the television engrossed in the communal sing-a-long adventure story.

There aren’t and won’t be event movies like that any more and it’s unfortunate.

File Under Mr. Cool