As you can see, Oz: A Rock ’n’ Roll Road Movie took its cues more from the MGM Wizard than from Baum’s book, to wit:
Dorothy gets hit on the head and wakes up in Oz.
Dorothy meets the Glinda equivalent (Glin) and the Wicked Witch of the West equivalent (the Truckie) within minutes of arriving in Oz.
Dorothy acquires a pair of red shoes.
Dorothy’s adversary pursues her on her journey.
Dorothy’s traveling companions bear striking resemblances to her friends back home; indeed, as did Frank Morgan, Graham Matters turns up as multiple characters.
Oz: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Road Movie was the brainchild of Chris Löfvén, who acted as writer, producer, and director for the film, his co-producer being Lyne Helms. He particularly intended for Graham Matters to play the Wizard, and to portray him in a style inspired by David Bowie’s character Ziggy Stardust from a few years before. Löfvén also cast Joy Dunstan after seeing her sing in a musical comedy revue, though she only sang one song (“Our Warm Tender Love”) for the film.
The movie’s score was composed by Ross Wilson, a veteran of two bands, Daddy Cool and Mondo Rock, along with Gary Young, Wayne Burt (also members of Daddy Cool), and Baden Hutchins. Wilson, incidentally, and significantly, had worked with two labels, one called Wizard Records and his own Oz Records.
Despite poor reception at the box office, Oz garnered four nominations at the 1977 Australian Film Institute Awards and, especially after its U.S. release as 20th Century Oz, became a cult favorite among music fans.
As I mentioned in the last article, for those who, like me, prefer the child-friendly Oz that Baum intended, Löfvén’s movie is not recommended. Without going into detail about the brutal intentions of the Truckie towards Dorothy, the movie is also full of uninhibitedness of tongue (translation: lots of obscenities), as well as enough sexual imagery and innuendo to earn the Australian DVD release an “M” rating (Mature, specifically 15 years old and up).
On the plus side, and bearing in mind that I have seen just a little of the movie, the cast all appear to turn in good performances. Gary Waddell inspires pity just as effectively as Bert Lahr, and the sweet friendship that is evident between Dorothy and Blondie is a testament to the skills of Dunstan and Bruce Spence (who went on to play two roles in the second and third Mad Max movies, the Mouth of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Tion Medon in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, among many more).
And to be sure, the music itself (again, what little I’ve heard of it, which amounts to “Livin’ in the Land of Oz” performed by Ross Wilson and “You’re Driving Me Insane” performed by Graham Matters) appears to be well worth a listen if you can find the soundtrack.