Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Favorite All-Time Film Performances...#93

93. Margaret Hamilton, The Wizard of Oz (Director: Victor Fleming, 1939)
“I’ll get you, my pretty…and your little dog too!” Imagine. You are five or six, sitting down in your living room and your parents have popped in a movie into the VCR (yes, imagine this is the early 90s). The movie is called The Wizard of Oz. You have never heard of it. After reeling from the excitement of seeing the movie go from the sepia tones to a vibrant kaleidoscope of colors, the Wicked Witch of the West has made her entrance. Oh what an entrance she makes! You realize that she’s vaguely familiar (doesn’t she look like Miss Gulch from the beginning of the movie?). And after hurling some nasty vitriol at Dorothy, our beloved heroine, she goes and really pisses everyone off. She went after Toto.

Let’s call it out like it is. I have never seen Margaret Hamilton in any other film or television show she made. Having read her history online, I can see that she did get a lot of work all through her life. That said if your only lasting impression in your lifetime is a character that will outlast you, a character that still leaves us with chills down our backs (AFI ranked the Wicked Witch of West at #4 on the All-Time Villains list) and a character that has been the subject of books and a musical; that is an impressive feat. It's only fitting that I was able to get to this performance the same day that we celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the film's release. And really, if you had suffered severe burns because the fire effects came out too early, would you have returned a month later, back on the job? That just proves how much of a badass Hamilton was.

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