Anybody who knows what he or she is talking about will clarify that there was more to the French auteur theory than the notion of director as sole creator. Nonethless, two films from Hollywood's famous Annus mirabilis of 1939 do much to dispatch that more simplistic definition of the philosophy. Both Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz went through a host of directors during their troubled production. The reliable, if largely uncelebrated, Victor Fleming ended up with sole credit on both films.
If there is any lesson here it is that, at that stage in the Dream Factory’s history, perfect popular entertainments could, from time to time, emerge from a co-operative coalition of departments working to a strong producer. It’s not really Fleming’s picture. It’s not even producer Mervyn LeRoy’s picture. It belongs to MGM.
You will know the myths and legends. Shirley Temple was involved in early discussions. Somewhere Over the Rainbow nearly didn't make it in. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon proves an eerily perfect accompaniment. All that matters is that this version of Frank L Baum's book (by some reckonings the eighth, sequel- phobes) remains one of the most creepily entertaining family films ever made. We are happy that it is back in cinemas. We are unhappy that it is now in stupid 3-D. For that reason, we dock this classic a star.