mercredi 28 mars 2012

Harold Arlen - The Wizard of Oz (1939)

EM/f.PC/LP 0031
Real. Victor Fleming
Mus. Harold Arlen
Dir. Mus. Herbert Stothart, George Stoll
Lyrics : E.Y. Harburg

LP MGM Select 2353 044 – Stereo/Mono (UK)

Face 1. 
Musical and Dramatic Selections from the MGM Film The Wizard of Oz : Over The Rainbow, Int. Judy Garland – Munchkinland / Ding-Dong! / The Witch is Dead / Follow The Yellow Brick Road / We’re Off to See The Wizard / If Only Had a Brain, Int. Ray Bolger – We’re Off To See The Wizard / If I Only Had a Heart, Int. Jack Haley – We’re Off to See The Wizard / If I Only Had The Nerve – Int. Bert Lahr – We’re Off to See The Wizard.

Face 2. 
Musical and Dramatic Selections from the MGM Film The Wizard of Oz : If I Were King of The Forest, Int. Bert Lahr

Notes Back Cover
There is a certain brand of evergreen movie that withstands changes in fashion, style and presentation and endears itself to each new generation that discovers it. Such a movie is "Wizard of Oz" conceived - as they say - when the war clouds were looming over Europe and destined to become one of the greatest cheerer-uppers in the history of show-business. No matter that the colours now look a liitle brash, and the munchkins grotesque, or that the good fairy has bright blobs of vermillion on each cheek - who could resist ankle-socked Judy longing to be Over the Rainbow, or who, for that matter, could resist the cowardly lion, the squeaky tin man or the floppy scarecrow?
On this memorable album all the characters you cheered, hissed or wept over, once more spring irrepressably to life, and even if you haven't caught up with the movie for many years you'll suddenly find yourself recalling the green face of the witch, or that wonderful moment where the film suddenly wept into glorious technicolor, or the wizards wonderful workshop.
Unfair to pick out individual performers because the entire cast seemed so hand-picked and so perfectly in harmony with the entire enterprise, though it is probably true that this is the film for which Judy Garland will be remembered down the years. And though you could be forgiven for not knowing that it was Ray Bolger inside all that straw and Jack Haley encased in that shiny tin or Bert Lahr sweating it out in the lion suit, you would have to have been a very unimaginative child (or a very unaware adult even) if that loony trio had not captured even the tiniest portion of your mind. They were all the stuff that dreams are made of, and the music on this record should start you dreaming all over again.
When you listen to this LPB spare a thought - not just for the wonderful cast and director (Victor Fleming) who made the dreams come true - but also for Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, two of the most talented songwriters the movies could ever have wished to employ.

- Philip Jenkinson

The listener can follow with ease the story of Dorothy Gale's adventures in Oz through the dialogue on the record. She expresses her yearning for a "place where there's no trouble" in the lovely song, "Over the Rainbow". Suddenly a cyclone strikes, Dorothy is knocked unconscious by a flying window, and she awakes in the dazzling Land of Oz. There, in a fairyland of colour and beauty, Dorothy learns she's a heroine because the house in which she arrived struck and killed a wicked witch. The Munchkins sing "The Muchin Song" and "Ding-Dong The Witch is Dead" but Dorothy is interested in returning home to Kansas. Glinda, the beautiful good witch, advises Dorothy to see the Wizard of Oz, who will help her return to Kansas. Dorothy follows The Yellow Brick Road, and soon meets a talking, dancing scarecrow (Ray Bolger) who tags along with her because he hopes the Wizard will give him a brain. Soon they meet The Tin Woodman (Jack Haley) who joins them on the Yellow Brick Road because he wants the Wizard  to give him a heart. And their party is complete when they meet The Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) who hopes the Wizard will give him courage. Each of the newcomers sings a song about his plight: "If I Only Had A Brain" (Bolger), "If I Only Had A Heart" (Haley) and "If  I Only Had The Nerve" (Lahr). Together with Dorothy, they sing "Were Off to See The Wizard" as they wend their way down the endless Yellow Brick Road.

The Cowardly Lion sings "If I Were King Of The Forest" as the group waits to see the Wizard. Finally the Wizard appears and agrees to grant their wishes if they bring him the broomstick of The Wicked Witch Of The West (Margaret Hamilton), who has tried to prevent their meeting with him. More adventures follow as Dorothy is captured and escapes, and as the Witch kidnaps Toto because Dorothy and her friends keep outwitting her. But finally, the valiant quartet conquers the Witch and returns to the Wizard with her broomstick. There, the Wizard (Frank Morgan) is discovered to be a fraud, but he does prove to The Scarecrow that he has had a brain all along, and to The Woodman that he has had a heart, and to The Cowardly Lion that he has had courage. For Dorothy, The Wizard produces a huge balloon to take her back to Kansas. But Toto slips away, and as Dorothy chases him, the Wizard is swept away in the balloon. But all is not lost. Glinda, The Good Witch, reappears and tells Dorothy that she can go home anytime she wishes because she has learned the truth: "There's No Place Like Home". Soon, Dorothy is back in her own bed in her own room in her own home in Kansas, and although no one believes the story of her adventures, she is happy again because she is where her loved ones are.

When producer Mervyn LeRoy and director Victor Fleming began to put together the pieces that would make up this film classic, they were working with a book by L. Frank Baum which had been enjoyed by an estimated 80,000,000 persons. A stage version of the story, starring Fred Stone and Dave Montgomery, had played 941 American cities after a Broadway run of more than four years. The film of the "Wizard of Oz" was honoured by three Academy Awards: Best original Music Score (Herbert Stothart), Best Song (Over The Rainbow) and a special award to Judy Garland. 

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