Filmmaking has seen some incredible advancements across its over 100-year history. Per a new study, one yellow brick road and some glittery red slippers paved much of the way. The 1939 film The Wizard of Oz has been named the most influential film of all time, after the analysis of thousands of motion pictures across several genres.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Italian researchers placed The Wizard of Oz at the top of their film ranking in the journal Applied Network Science. The musical-fantasy film marked an incredible achievement of moviemaking when it was released — for its use of Technicolor, music scoring, special effects, and storytelling. It was a huge box office success.
Some may be surprised to see 1977’s Star Wars just behind Wizard of Oz on the list, since the franchise lives on and CGI technology dominates Hollywood’s biggest earners. However, the 1939 classic was a direct influence to George Lucas’ iconic film too — he’s previously cited the tale as an inspiration. At its core, Star Wars is a fairy tale with Luke Skywalker a Dorothy of sorts, C3PO based on the Tin Man, and Han Solo and Chewbacca taking the place of the Cowardly Lion.
Following the fantasy films is Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho at No. 3, then 1933’s King Kong, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Metropolis, and Citizen Kane. Lower on the list of 20 films is also the Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, plus Casablanca, The Godfather, and Jaws.
The researchers also determined the most “influential” and “top” directors, with George Cukor named the most influential. Cukor helmed Wizard of Oz and other classic musicals including My Fair Lady and 1954’s A Star Is Born. The top director was awarded to “The Master of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, with Steven Spielberg cracking the second spot.
The study also named Samuel L. Jackson as the most influential actor to date. Jackson has over a hundred acting credits including countless starring roles in critically-acclaimed films including Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, and in the Star Wars and Avengers franchises. Western legend, Clint Eastwood is second on the list, since the 88-year-old actor was key to the spaghetti-western golden age and now an influential director today. Contemporary action stars Tom Cruise and Arnold Schwarzenegger also made the top five, and John Wayne nabbed the No. 5 spot.
This is a fascinating ranking of influential films and people in Hollywood that is interesting to consider as we move forward as moviegoers. Many of these titles are still talked about, referenced, and paid tribute decades later due to their incredible influence. The musical, fantasy, action, and horror genres have developed thanks to the risks of these filmmakers. Looking back at a movie such as The Wizard of Oz is a particular reminder of how far film has come and been influenced since the medium’s inception.