Steven Spielberg and AFI Announce the AFI Movie Club for At-Home Fans

Posted on March 31, 2020 at 12:55 pm

The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today the launch of AFI Movie Club – a daily virtual gathering to leverage our collective love of film on behalf of optimism in this time of global uncertainty. AFI Trustee Steven Spielberg introduced the inaugural film, THE WIZARD OF OZ, in a video that reminds in a timely manner, “There’s no place like home.”

AFI – the authority on American film – will continue to select an iconic movie each day for the world to watch together, creating a communal viewing experience during these unprecedented times of social distancing. Other special guests will announce select AFI Movies of the Day in short videos posted on AFI.com and social media platforms. Audiences can “gather” at AFI.com/MovieClub to view the featured movie of the day with the use of their preexisting streaming services. The daily film selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive to enrich the viewing experience. Audiences can continue the conversation online using the hashtag #AFIMovieClub.

“AFI’s goal is to live in a world of art above anxiety,” said Bob Gazzale, President and CEO. “We’re honored to have Steven Spielberg, the greatest storyteller of our day, lead the way.”

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Family Movies for the Homebound IV: Movies Based on Great Books

Posted on March 30, 2020 at 8:13 pm

Copyright MGM 1939
More wonderful movies for families to share — these are all based on books that are all-time classics.

The Secret Garden: Agnieszka Holland’s 1993 version of the classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett is my favorite, but the others are good, too. When I first read the book, I loved the heroine because she was so cross, a delightful change from all of the earnest girls in other books. When he parents die in India, Mary must go to the creepy, mysterious home of her absent uncle. The secret garden she discovers there is not even the most remarkable surprise. Also see: A Little Princess (1995 version)

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Stick with the first version of Roald Dahl’s classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, about the poor boy who finds a golden ticket in a chocolate bar and gets a tour of the candy factory, along with some other children who are spoiled and obnoxious. You will also enjoy some of the other movies basked on Dahl’s books, “James and the Giant Peach,” “The BFG,” and “Matilda.”

The Wizard of Oz: The most-loved family movie of all time is the Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Frank Morgan, Bert Lahr, Margaret Hamilton, and Jack Haley version of the story of the Kansas girl who is whisked away to a magical land in a tornado, meets a scarecrow, a tin man, a lion, and a witch, and learns that there’s no place like home. Every time you watch it, you’ll marvel at something new. Also see: “The Wiz” a remix starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson

The Chronicles of Narnia: Four children entered a wardrobe and found themselves in a magic land, gorgeously brought to life in a series of films.

Harry Potter: J.K. Rowling’s saga about the boy wizard is one of the most successful book adaptations of all time. Read them all and then see the films.

Also see: Family Movies for the Homebound I, II, and III (Chess).

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Noel Langley and the Original Script for “The Wizard of Oz”

Posted on July 19, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Wicked author Gregory Maguire has a wonderful essay on the Smithsonian website about the original screenplay for what is probably the greatest family movie of all time, The Wizard of Oz.

By coincidence, I just finished a book by the author of that screenplay, Noel Langley. The book is The Land of Green Ginger and it has a lot of the charm and whimsy Langley brought to his adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s novel. Maguire writes:

The differences between this version and the final shooting script? Hardly a page escapes without crossed-out speeches and handwritten substitutions. Plot points abound that are later abandoned (the Wicked Witch of the West has a son named Bulbo?). Only a couple of scenes refer to singing, and none of the famous lyrics appear. What would become “Over the Rainbow,” which I call America’s unofficial national anthem, is referred to as “the Kansas song.”

What this draft achieves is the compression of choice elements from a best-selling, although rambling, children’s book. In the original novel, the Wicked Witch of the West dies on Page 155, but Dorothy doesn’t leave Oz until 100 pages on. If Langley stuffs in extraneous characters for ballast (a Kansas farmhand and his sweetheart among them), he also abbreviates the trajectory of the story so that the demise of the Wicked Witch of the West kick-starts Dorothy’s return to Kansas.

The American author-illustrator Maurice Sendak believed that The Wizard of Oz film was a rare example of a movie that improves on the original book. I agree with him. Langley consolidates two good witches into one. He eliminates distracting sequences involving populations Dorothy encounters after the Wizard has left in his balloon—the china people (porcelain figures) and the Hammer-Heads (a hard-noggined race).

No one has engaged more deeply with the Oz story than Maguire, whose book about the Wicked Witch of the West inspired the Broadway smash hit. What I thought most interesting were his thoughts on Langley’s choice to make the visit to Oz a dream. Well worth a read. Here’s “Frozen’s” Idina Menzel singing “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g4ekwTd6Ig
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Judy Garland’s Children Will Appear on the Oscars’ Tribute to “The Wizard of Oz”

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 6:38 pm

The Oscar broadcast this Sunday will have a special 75th anniversary tribute to “The Wizard of Oz” and all three of Judy Garland’s children will appear together: Liza Minnelli (an Oscar-winner herself for “Cabaret” and the daughter of Oscar winner Vincente Minnelli) and Joey and Lorna Luft.

Liza Minnelli’s second husband also had a parent who starred in “The Wizard of Oz.”  Producer Jack Haley, Jr. was the son of Jack Haley, who played the Tin Woodman.

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Giveaway: Wizard of Oz 3d Combo Pack

Posted on September 26, 2013 at 8:25 am

wizardofoz3d

This is it.  The greatest family movie of all time.  “The Wizard of Oz” now has a gorgeous new 3D/Blu-Ray/Digital release and I have a copy to give away.  “Over the Rainbow.” “If I Only Had a Heart.” “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” Glinda the Good Witch, the Lollipop Guild, the ruby slippers, the flying monkeys, the horse of a different color, and “there’s no place like home.”  Enter by sending me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com and tell me your favorite moment from this classic film.  Don’t forget your address!  (US addresses only)  I’ll pick a winner at random on October 2.  Good luck!

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