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The 1939 MGM version of L. Frank Baum's, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz aired each Thanksgiving when I was growing up and it never failed to scare me. Margret Hamilton's character, the Wicked Witch of the West gave me nightmares, her squad of flying monkeys haunted me for days and her guard's singing the Winkie Chant stuck in my head for weeks. Yet I came back to it time and again with as much eager anticipation as the year before. Half a century later I purchased the BluRay remake and last night I watched it in my new home theater. I was not surprised Hamilton's character no longer frightened me, but I was at the stunning quality of this remastered classic and I bring this to your attention because a question occurred to me as I watched. If experts can take the first color film made and rework it to the stunning level of quality this film has, why not audio? Every attempt at remastering old audio seems lackluster: better frequency extremes, reduction of noise and artifacts not part of the music, but rarely better fidelity. My first thought is that it cannot be possible to recover audio that never existed, yet I would be surprised to learn the film people added that which never existed to work their magic. Watching it on the screen one can see every little freckle on Garland's face, and the rubber mask of Burt Lahr's cowardly lion. But I cannot think of too many audio classics revived in such amazing fashion. Am I just missing out on work that has been done?
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Paul McGowan

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