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The Not-So-Wonderful Games of Oz

August 25, 2019 2 min read

MGM's The Wizard of Oz should have been a disaster. After the release and subsequent success of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the studio sought its own potential hit film to be adapted from a children's book. In 1938, MGM purchased the film rights to Frank L. Baum's best seller and, over the course of a year, 13 different writers -- most uncredited -- would contribute to the script. Initial ideas for the film included changing Tin Man into a criminal without a heart who had his body cast in tin as a punishment, a song and dance number inspired by "The Jitterbug," and a romantic subplot between Dorothy and the 18-years-her-senior Hunk aka The Scarecrow.

The producers may not have had the best ideas, but what they did have is a song, perhaps thefilm song, as well as a child actress who would work 16 hours a day while subsisting on a diet of pills and other pills, and a complete disregard for the health and safety of their actors. That was filmmaking in 1939 and their recklessness led to one of the greatest films ever to be put to print.

The Wizard of Oz is so good, so crucial to the filmmaking canon, that nearly every other attempt to follow it up has failed. It's simply too timeless, and while some products carve their own path to success like The Wiz -- the stage musical, not the movie -- most are quickly forgotten, even ones with kick-ass jazzy soundtracks. This is true for games as well and today, on the 80th anniversary of the release of that historic movie, I wanted to take a look back at some of the attempts to turn this classic, family-friendly fantasy tale into a video game.

The Not-So-Wonderful Games of Oz screenshot