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Thanks to innumerable childhood viewings, this 1939 film is too firmly planted in my (pre)consciousness for me to find the proper critical distance. In many ways, it’s stiff, ersatz, and anonymous in the usual MGM house style of the 30s (though King Vidor, one of several directors who worked on the project, does manage some graceful camera movement in the Munchkin scenes), but frankly I don’t care. Those talking trees were a staple of my nightmares for years, and Margaret Hamilton is still my prime mental image of absolute evil. I don’t find the film light or joyful in the least—an air of primal menace hangs about it, which may be why I love it. With Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Ray Bolger, and Billie Burke; Victor Fleming took the final directing credit.