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Calendar Movies: The Wizard of Oz

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For Christmas I received a brilliant calendar with movie posters from the classic age of cinema. Each month I have decided to have a dinner party culminating in a viewing of that particular month’s movie.


The continual beat of the baby drum has been getting louder and louder at Chez Brewster. I will turn 30 on March 25 which means my wife will turn the same six months later. With an empty crib and old age coming quickly, the old biological clock is drumming out all other sounds. No matter how much cotton I stick in my ears, in my ear I hear the ever constant shout of my wife saying, “Let’s have a baby. Let’s have a baby. Let’s have a baby…now!”

I finally relented. I finally gave in and…I got her a cat. That softened the drumming a little. The relentless chanting of “BABY – BABY – BABY” slowed down to a whisper. It was still there, but I could at least drown it out with an old episode of Moonlighting, or Ryan Adams’ excellent, never released album Destroyer. For a little while anyway.

Really, I know I’m on the losing end of an argument. Sooner or later I must give up and agree to have a child. In fact, I want to have children, just not now. I don’t know when, and certainly I must admit the time is quickly becoming now, but the thought of how much I’ll have to give up, at how much work children are, makes me want to wait a few more years.

The other day, without provocation, and without discussion, in a nonchalant manner, my wife mentions that we’ll start trying this summer. I was too shocked and too tired to attempt an argument. At this point I’ve pretty much given in to the idea.

My friend, and coworker, Tim, keeps telling me to take his three children for the weekend. “Two days with my kids and she’ll never want any of her own,” he says.

February’s classic calendar movie is the Wizard of Oz. This, I thought, was the perfect opportunity to invite Tim and children over to test his theory. For $20 he promised to bribe his kids into behaving badly.

In our typical, wait-till-the-last-minute approach, we hit the stores on Friday night in search of a copy of the movie. $50. That’s what they are asking for some new whizbang 4-disk version of the Wizard of Oz. Fifty freaking bucks for a movie. We ran all over town looking for an earlier, cheaper version. Found a 2-disk special edition for $20 at Best Buy. Still more than I wanted to pay, but what can you do when you’ve invited guests over to watch a movie and it’s too late for Netflix?

Also invited were my co-supervisor Christina, her husband, and seven-month-old boy.

Everybody arrived and Tim collected his 20 bucks. We had a very lovely lasagna dish with salad and breadsticks.

None of the children were particularly badly behaved. Tim’s kids range in age from about 5 to 11, and while they were not hellions at all, they were full of energy. What with the excitement of our cat and the 6-month-old baby they didn’t know what to do. They ran around, wrestled and told me jokes. You know the ones: about the fat kid named Chubby, who you mimic by pressing your hands to your cheeks making them fat.

After eating and some good chatting, Christina and family had to leave.

The movie was put in and we all settled down to Dorothy, the Witch and Oz.

“Where’s the color?” Tim’s oldest, Brennan asked. This was followed by a continual, perpetual inquisition on why the film was in black and white.

At first I thought this was some kind of complaint that the movie was in black and white. I remember being a kid and not wanting to watch old black and white films. After a minute, I realized the chanting wasn’t some annoyance at old movies, but was in anticipation of Dorothy’s arrival in Oz, where the film turns into a Technicolor dream.

The Wizard of Oz is, of course, a classic. It is one of the world’s most beloved films.

My oldest memory of the film is watching it at my grandmother’s house one summer. This was back in the days when it was shown annually on television. I was playing Twister with my cousins in the living room and watching the movie simultaneously. Whenever a scene with the Wicked Witch of the West would come on I run to my mother and close my eyes, only opening them when my mother said it was safe.

The new DVD transfer looks marvelous. The contrast from the dreary, weary land of Kansas and the wild, swirling whirling colors of Oz is more vivid and amazing than ever before.

After we got color, the kids mostly settled down, except for the occasional wisecrack from Brennan and a peculiar desire in all the kids in seeing a darker, horror version of the picture, where the Tin Man is a robotic vampire.

The movie ended, delicious peanut butter pie was eaten and everybody when on their merry way.

“Let’s have a baby,” my wife said as we shut the door.

Tell Tim I want my 20 bucks back.

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