Ray Bolger did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Hunk and the Scarecrow, Jack Haley did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Hickory and the Tin Man, and Bert Lahr did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Zeke and the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.
The Wizard of Oz, about a young girl attempt to get home after arriving in a fantasy land, I suppose is not one of my favorite films of all time, but I certainly still enjoy it quite a bit.
The introduction of each is refined down to they discover them, their problem, then they sing a song about it. Now with each performer though they go beyond just being a guy in some heavy, and well rather impressive makeup. Ray Bolger's physical manner in the performance is that of a somewhat weightless shuffle as though is indeed made of straw, and barely has material to allow himself to stand up straight. On the other hand Jack Haley's gives an appropriately stilted performance as the Tin Man. That being stilted in the way he often so forcefully moves around suggesting a man who's nothing more than a hunk of metal. Haley's particularly good in making the Tin Man's movements all the more laborious when he's gone and rusted himself. Now Lahr technically least acts like the odd thing he portrays, but then again he's suppose to be a Lion who also just happens to talk and stand upright. That's not a negative point against Lahr in the least though since his physical portrayal of the Lion is great anyway. I love how he puts on the facade of the tough Lion as he at times attempts to be almost like an aggressive boxer in his stances in in order to seem tough, and even the way he contorts his fact is though the Lion is attempting to be some sort of vicious animal. This is all in contrast to whenever the Lion is given cause to become fearful, and Lahr's terrific in the way he basically tightens up into such a modest creature in the matter of seconds.
Now given the way they look, the nature of the film itself, and the fact that all three were vaudeville performers at heart, these are not going to obviously be the most subtle turns by any of them. Luckily they don't need to be, in fact it would have been wrong if they were. Bolger's performance captures the sort of scatterbrained manner for a man who supposedly has no brain, though there are frequent moments to suggest otherwise despite the Scarecrow's incorrect knowledge about triangles. Bolger though is the right sort of ball of energy as a guy whose held together by almost nothing, Bolger brings that right eagerness for someone who has no intent to let that get in the way. Haley also does very good job of already establishing the Tin Man's heart from his first appearance. Haley speaks with a higher pitched voice, higher than his time as Hickory, which works quite well in this regard. Haley's voice has this innate affectionate sweetness to his words that effectively implies just how much heart the metal man already has. The Lion's actions, as written, actually offer very little bravery on his part. Well that really does not matter once again as Lahr is downright hilarious as such a literal scaredy cat. I particularly love his first scene where he goes from his extremely obvious tough guy facade, to a complete wimp due to a slight physical assault by Dorothy. Lahr's wonderful in being such a whiner with just how weak he is as he asks Dorothy "why'd you hit me" yet Lahr's sorrowful expression is so genuinely remorseful that he's absolutely endearing.
The three are also tasked to deliver a few songs, each given the slightly altered version of an introductory one, though I guess because Lahr's was so short of a reprise they decided to give him his own solo number "If I was King of the Forest" which technically is completely superfluous, though I don't mind it. Each of them acquit themselves well in this regard, and once again especially Lahr. He makes the most of his solo carrying all the manners of a great king only to undercut at the end with his very enjoyably switch back to a retiring mess at the end of the song. Now beyond the scenes that solely focus on each character there is more to be found. I will say Haley probably stands out the least in regards to his more reactionary moments, though not that he is bad either. Bolger and Lahr though just you can watch them in any given scenes and are extremely entertaining in showing the Scarecrow and the Lion's reactions to any new oddity they might encounter. Now to repeat once more Lahr stands out the best in this regard being always so consistently funny in revealing the Lion as he's so often gripped in fear. All three of them are a delight throughout the film as they manage to be such a likable trio, and even really earn Dorothy's tearful goodbye as the warmth of their camaraderie grows with such ease due to their unassuming yet oh so effective chemistry. The three of them find just the right tone for the film, and help to amplify its best qualities in a quite admirable fashion. Though what about that pesky old Wizard everyone is looking for?
Frank Morgan did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying The Doorman, The Guard, The Cab Driver, Professor Marvel and the titular Wizard in The Wizard of Oz.
However it's the Wizard we're all waiting to see, who we originally meet as floating green head who has some random things spew fire for the sake of it. Now the voice Morgan does as the Wizard is quite menacing, and completely matches the almost demonic face that we are faced with. He even gets a bit chilling when comments on the fact that the group liquidated the Wicked Witch of the West. Of course the film ends with Dorothy's dog Toto revealing this Wizard itself is just a illusion, with the real Wizard merely being a man behind a curtain who happens to have a microphone. Morgan's reaction at seeing the curtain being pulled back is simply marvelous. I really love Morgan bellowing out the fake Wizard's final order, but reducing to the real Wizard in such a quiet unassuming voice as he finishes the sentence "I AM THE GREAT AND POWERFUL wizard of oz". Morgan's revelation is perfection as he goes from being that powerful ominous being, to just a meek old man in a matter of second. What's notable is even though the characters are similair Morgan does not just feel as though he's doing Professor Marvel, despite both being phony tricksters. Again Morgan pulls it off though as he makes The Wizard so affable in a matter of seconds, despite risking the lives of all of our heroes and almost giving them nothing in return, but hey how could any one hate that sweet face Morgan so effortlessly projects. What comes next is probably my favorite scene in the film, in large due to Morgan, as The Wizard solves everyone's problems by basically telling them they did not have them to begin with, but giving them something from his gift bag just to make it all the better. Morgan is wholly spellbinding as he technically is a true conman bringing so much charisma as he delivers the brains, heart, and courage as needed. What's so special about is you get little caught up yourself, and can't help but agree thanks to Morgan. He's so sly as he goes about granting his degree to the Scarecrow, so confident and assured in granting the medal to the Lion, then so warm and downright inspirational as he reflects on the true method of measuring love as he grants a clock heart to the Tin Man. Of course Dorothy's request almost stumps him until he decides to become a showman again, and Morgan is just that as he is so captivating in his description that lead him to the Emerald City. I won't hesitate to say that I adore this performance by Morgan as he's a wizard well worth waiting to see, and his other appearances are simply a welcome bonus.