THE WIZARD OF OZ. (1939) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE WIZARD OF OZ. (1939) DIRECTED BY VICTOR FLEMING. BASED ON THE 1900 CHILDREN’S NOVEL, THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ BY LYMAN FRANK BAUM.

MUSIC BY HAROLD ARLEN AND HERBERT STOTHART.

STARRING JUDY GARLAND, BILLIE BURKE, MARGARET HAMILTON, RAY BOLGER, JACK HALEY, BERT LAHR, FRANK MORGAN, CHARLEY GRAPEWIN, CLARA BLANDWICK AND TOTO THE DOG AS HIMSELF.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

The ultimate chick flick…two women killing each other over shoes.

Transported to a surreal landscape, a little girl kills the first person she meets, then teams up with three strangers to kill again…

‘There’s no place like home…’

‘How about a little fire, scarecrow…?’

‘I guess we’re not in Kansas any more, Toto…’

‘I’ll get you, my pretty… And your little dog, too…!’

‘Erm, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…!’

You can’t watch this classic film without singing along at the top of your voice to the terrific songs. It’s just not possible. Try it yourself and see. I’ve just re-watched the film and now the neighbours are banging on the walls in protest at my singing but I don’t care. I’ve had a lovely time and I don’t care who knows it, lol.

This is the story of Dorothy Gale, played by the then seventeen-year-old Judy Garland, who would forever be associated with the role. Dorothy is a much-loved little girl from Kansas who lives on a farm with her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry and her beloved terrier, Toto.

The only fly in Dorothy’s ointment is local citizeness of note, the grumpy and humourless Miss Almira Gulch, who has it in for Toto and keeps trying to get him put to sleep for biting her. On foot of Miss Gulch’s latest dirty rotten trick, a court order permitting her to take Toto to be euthanised, Dorothy determines to run away with her dog.

She picks a dodgy time to do it, though. A twister (tornado) blows into town unexpectedly and, while Uncle Henry, Auntie Em and the farmhands are all safely hunkered down in the family bunker, Dorothy and Toto are whirled up into the sky, knocked about a bit and finally deposited (with a witch-killing bump) in a land that’s about as far from Kansas as you can get… the merry old land of Oz.

Here, of course, is where she inherits the ruby slippers, meets the Munchkins of Munchkinland and is advised by the Good Witch Glinda to follow the Yellow Brick Road, which should eventually lead her to the Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City. The Wizard, as if you didn’t already know, is the one person who might be able to help Dorothy to return home to Kansas, the one thing in the world she wants more than anything.

Along the way, she picks up the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, who all want to meet the Wizard too and ask him for, respectively, a brain, a heart and courage. The raggle-taggle motley crew will have many adventures together before they’re finished, not least of which is greatly incurring the ire of Miss Gulch’s dreaded and dreadful alter ego, the Wicked Witch of the West.

The Witch with the long pointy face and green skin is the best and most kick-ass character by miles. Enraged by the fact that Dorothy has (inadvertently) dropped a house on her, the Witch’s, sister, and ‘stolen’ her magical ruby slippers, she’ll stop at nothing to get those slippers back, even if it means killing the person whose feet are currently occupying them…

The colour scenery in this musical fantasy extravaganza is fantabulous and the songs plentiful. Follow the Yellow Brick Road, Ding Dong the Witch is Dead and Somewhere Over the Rainbow & Co. will all leave you breathless, and infused with an amazing sense of well-being.

Dorothy and her pals learn a few gentle moral lessons along the way, and we, the viewers, are highly entertained from start to finish. It’s a win-win situation. Dig this one out if you have it, along with CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and A MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL for a fun and musical Christmas.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL. (1992) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

muppets scrooge

THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL. 1992. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY BRIAN HENSON. MUSIC BY PAUL WILLIAMS. BASED ON THE NOVEL BY CHARLES DICKENS.

STARRING MICHAEL CAINE, STEVEN MACKINTOSH, MEREDITH BRAUN, ROBIN WEAVER, KERMIT THE FROG, THE GREAT GONZO, RIZZO THE RAT, MISS PIGGY, FOZZIE BEAR, SAM THE EAGLE, ROWLF THE DOG AND KERMIT’S NEPHEW, ROBIN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘The years performed their terrible dance.’

The Marleys were dead, to begin with… This is, quite simply, the best Christmas movie ever made. It’s a top-notch reworking of the Charles Dickens’ classic, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, in which Ebenezer Scrooge, the meanest man in Christendom, is visited on Christmas Eve by Three Spirits who show him the error of his ways.

Michael Caine is superb as Scrooge, the Victorian moneylender who’s so mean he wouldn’t give you the steam off his piss, as we say here in Ireland. He underpays his employees, he’s a horrible uncle to his nephew Fred and he gives short shrift to the gentlemen who come collecting for charity on Christmas Eve.

He only lets his workers, among them Bob Cratchit, brilliantly played by Kermit The Frog, have Christmas Day off work because there won’t be any other businesses open to do business with. Tsk, tsk. What a cantankerous old skinflint.

Bob is glad to be rid of him when close of business finally arrives on Christmas Eve because Bob, along with his wife Emily and their four children, twin girls Belinda and Bettina (the living image of their mother Emily, played by Miss Piggy!) and two boys, Peter and the ailing Tiny Tim, do know how to keep Christmas well. Which is more, much more, than can be said for Mr. Scrooge. Humph.

Scrooge goes home alone to his cold, dark gloomy chambers. From the moment he sees the face of one of his long-dead business partners, Jacob Marley, materialise superimposed over the front door knocker of his house, he gets an uneasy feeling that tonight isn’t going to be like most nights. And by Jiminy, he’s dead right!

Statler and Waldorf, the two incorrigible old jokers who sit up in their box at the Muppet Theatre every night and gleefully heckle the performers, turn up to his chambers first as the ghosts of Scrooge’s deceased business partners, Marley and Marley.

Wearing the terrible ‘chains they forged in life,’ the two auld lads try to convince Scrooge that living for his cashboxes the way he does is the way to end up in hell, chained for all time to the things you mistakenly thought were important in life. They don’t have much luck. Scrooge is going to need more convincing.

Next, the Three Spirits, the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future, whose ghoulish coming was foretold by the shades of Marley and Marley, arrive bang on schedule on Christmas Eve night.

They give the terrified Scrooge what for, showing him what a miserably lonely child he was in his youth, how he is scorned and shunned by all in the present, and how little he’ll be missed on his death.

Scrooge, as we all know, repents his tight-fisted ways and pays festive visits to both his gobsmacked nephew Fred and the impoverished Cratchit family, who are delighted to see that he comes bearing gifts.

One of my favourite scenes is where Bob Cratchit, an amiable man who only sees the good in people, tries to get his wife Emily to join him in drinking a toast during Christmas dinner to ‘Mr. Scrooge, the founder of the feast.’ 

She nearly becomes apoplectic with rage, saying things like: ‘Founder of the feast indeed!’ and ‘If he were here, I’d give him a piece of my mind and I hope he’d choke on it…!’ She doesn’t have quite the rosy-eyed view of the world that her husband has, and I don’t blame her.

While Bob is out at work, she’s the one who has to feed her family out of fresh air and find clothes for them and heat their freezing little icebox of a house. She also has to watch her youngest child, Tiny Tim, grow steadily weaker for the want of good food, a bit of warmth and the right medicines.

The wife of a rich Victorian banker may have been able to lie on her chaise-longue all day, pale and languid, but the wives of poor men were up against it all right. It’s no wonder that the spirited Emily Cratchit, fiercely loyal to her husband who busts his hump daily for Scrooge for tiny wages, would dearly love to ‘Hi-yah!’ Ebenezer Scrooge into the middle of next week. You go, girl.

The songs are fantastic, every single one of them an unforgettable Christmas classic. This is a great karaoke film because you and your whole family can sing along as loudly as you like to the tunes, especially if you have the subtitles and therefore the words.

There are some genuinely spooky and atmospheric scenes in Scrooge’s dark, cold old chambers as he awaits the arrival of the spectres. The Ghost Of Christmas Future is particularly grim. I think he’d put the willies up most people, this fella.

The atmosphere of love and togetherness in the Cratchit household, despite their poverty and Tiny Tim’s imminent death, would bring a tear to the eye of the most hard-hearted viewer. They have a sense of family that’s most fitting for the time of year, but that you can imagine sustains them right through the rest of the year as well. And yet they’re not too sickly-sweet, like the Waltons, lol. Bob’s genuine warmth and Emily’s feistiness and fierce protectiveness of her family sees to that.

The film is chock-a-block with typical Muppet comedy too, as you might expect. The Great Gonzo playing Charles Dickens is an inspired piece of casting, and Rizzo the Rat makes an adorably funny sidekick to the great nineteenth-century novelist. It’s the perfect Christmas film and a wonderful tribute to the season that the Victorians are credited with, if not inventing, exactly, then at least putting their own stamp on it.

Let’s not forget either, though, that it’s ultimately a horror story, involving the visitation by ghosts of a man who seriously needs to change his miserly ways. And change them he does, in the many versions of the story committed to celluloid. Could this even be the most often-told ghost story of all time…?

I don’t know, but what I do know is that this little film is top of my Christmas movie-list every single year without fail. It’s a heartwarming, brilliantly-scripted classic. What else can I say about it? Just watch it for yourself. You’ll see what I mean. But make sure you try to get an early night first, okay? After all, there’s only one more sleep till Christmas…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor