By Catherine Galda
This year at the Oscars, the motion picture industry took time out of its presenting schedule to have a special tribute to The Wizard of Oz. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Judy Garland singing her way into our hearts. The tribute included a nice montage mostly focused on Garland with some clips of with Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow), Jack Haley (the Tin-Man) and Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion) while P!nk sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (which was very good). However, one thing that struck me as I was watching the Oscars, Wizard of Oz was not the only movie turning 75 this year.
Another famous movie that came out in 1939 was a little picture called Gone With The Wind. That the first full length color film was slighted at the Oscars makes me feel a bit uneasy. The talent in Gone With The Wind is like that The Wizard of Oz, one cannot think of anyone who could play the roles better. There are only two actors who can play the main leads of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler and their names are Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. It was sad that they have almost been gone fifty years (similar to Garland-this year marks the 45th anniversary of her passing) and they are not honored in the way they should have been.
What made me sadder about this tribute is one of the main talents from Gone With The Wind is still alive today. The great Olivia de Havilland turns ninety-eight this year and honoring her work in Gone With The Wind would be nice to see while she is still alive. The Oscars brought back acting legends Sidney Poitier and Kim Novak who did not have any movies celebrating a special anniversary, but it would have been nice to see another acting icon there that night, which may be one of the last possible times we can show how much her work has meant to us. One argument could be made that they did not honor Gone With The Wind because of 12 Years A Slave, which is understandable, but how often can you celebrate Gone With The Wind turning 75 with one of the remaining cast members still alive?
Despite Gone With The Wind getting snubbed, many other movies were snubbed as well. 1939 was one of the best years Hollywood ever had and focusing on just The Wizard of Oz makes it seem that it was the only important movie that came out that year. Some other great classics that came out in 1939 were Babe in Arms (starring Garland and the talented Mickey Rooney), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur), Ninotchka (starring Greta Garbo in her first comedy role-and she laughs!), The Women (starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell and Joan Fontaine), Dark Victory (starring Bette Davis, George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Ronald Regan), Young Mister Lincoln (starring Henry Fonda) and Wuthering Heights (starring Lawrence Olivier). Many of these great movies did not even get recognition for turning 75 and that is very tragic.
Besides some of the big numbers turning 75, other movies had special birthday’s as well. Mary Poppins turned fifty, Ghostbusters turned thirty, Gremlins turned thirty, The Lion King turned twenty and Forrest Gump turned twenty. Instead of just paying attention to one movie, the academy should have made a montage of the big movies and showed them in the ages they were turning. Starting with The Wizard of Oz and went on from there.
Yes, P!nk did a nice job singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and it was nice Garland’s three children (Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft and Joey Luft) all were invited to watch this tribute to The Wizard of Oz and their mother, but how nice would it have been to have Olivia de Havilland, the last surviving cast member of Gone With The Wind? The academy could have invited the children of the main cast such as John Clark Gable, the only living child of Clark Gable and possibly Suzanne Farrington, the only child of Vivien Leigh and have them there to honor the good work of their parents.
By picking and choosing one movie to honor, the Academy left out many other important landmark movies that had a big anniversary this year. Hopefully next time they will stick with a montage of big anniversary films instead of just signaling out one movie.
Catherine Galda is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College. She is a history and Communication Arts major. She wants to hopefully write about all the people she finds fascinating.