The 3-strip color process wasn’t a type of color film; instead, it was a process in which a specially modified motion picture camera recorded the same scene through colored filters on three different strips of film. These strips were then processed separately and used to “print” colors onto each finished print of the film sent to theaters. If a movie studio wanted to make a film in Technicolor, it had to lease the company’s unique movie cameras as well as a team of two experts to help operate the complicated machine.
L. Frank Baum’s 1900 book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was so popular that it spawned thirteen sequels, several stage versions, and five films before MGM made the familiar The Wizard of Oz in 1939. In the late 1930s, the height of the Hollywood studio system, MGM had a reputation for quality movie musicals, and the film’s producers decided to spare no expense to make Oz an unforgettable film.
The Technicolor hues of The Wizard of Oz helped to make the movie what it is today, an American film classic.