Based on L. Frank Baum's novel, a girl is carried away to a magical land and helps a brainless scarecrow, heartless tin-man, and a cowardly lion.
Dorothy (Judy Garland) complains about Miss Almira Gulch (Margaret Hamilton), and workers Hunk (Ray Bolger), Hickory (Jack Haley), and Zeke (Bert Lahr) advise her. Dorothy sings "Over the Rainbow." Almira insists on taking Dorothy's dog Toto, who runs back. Dorothy leaves with Toto and meets psychic Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan). Dorothy goes back to Auntie Em (Clara Blandick) but is left out in the tornado and is carried away in her room.
In a magical land of flowers the good witch Glinda (Billie Burke) appears, and Munchkins sing "Ding Dong the Wicked Witch Is Dead." Almira appears as the Wicked Witch of the West and asks for the ruby slippers Dorothy wears. Glinda tells Dorothy to find the Wizard in the Emerald City. Munchins sing "Follow the Yellow Brick Road." Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) tells Dorothy he has no brain and sings "If I Only Had a Brain." Scarecrow asks to go with her. In an apple orchard Dorothy finds a Tin Woodman (Jack Haley), and they oil him. Tin-man says he has no heart and sings for one. Dorothy invites him along. The Wicked Witch throws a flame at Scarecrow, but Tin-man puts it out. In a forest they meet Lion (Bert Lahr), who acts tough until Dorothy stands up to him; then he admits he is a coward and joins them. The Wicked Witch prepares poison in poppy flowers that cause Dorothy and Lion to sleep. Glinda causes snow, and Dorothy wakes.
Marvel in green lets them in the city of Oz, and servants sing "The Merry Old Land of Oz." Lion sings "If I Were King." Marvel as the Guardian says the Wizard won't see them, but Dorothy cries for Auntie Em. The four are shown Oz (Frank Morgan), who has contempt for Tin-man, Scarecrow, and Lion. Oz tells them to bring the Witch's broomstick. In the haunted forest they are spooked. Dorothy and her dog are captured by the Wicked Witch, who demands the slippers but must kill Dorothy to get them. Toto escapes and gets Lion, Tin-man, and Scarecrow. They dress as guards and march into the castle to rescue Dorothy. The Wicked Witch recaptures them and sets Scarecrow on fire; but using water Dorothy melts the Wicked Witch away. They take her broom back to Oz. Toto pulls the curtain back, exposing Oz, who gives Scarecrow a diploma, Lion a medal, and Tin-man a testimonial. Oz says he will take Dorothy home with a balloon but goes off alone. Dorothy cries, and Glinda appears. Dorothy realizes all she wants is at home. Dorothy says good-bye and thinks of home. She wakes up in bed and sees Auntie Em and Uncle Henry (Charley Grapewin). Marvel and the three workers come by.
This musical makes a children's fantasy of the novel
that satirized the flaws of modern society as represented by brainless
farmers, heartless industrialists, cowardly politicians, and manipulative
scientists; but the result is an allegory that shows how the spiritual
qualities of wisdom, love, courage, and humility are developed
from within by experience and that heaven is not found in the
sky but at home.