Editorial lllustration for Clark University about Otis Ferguson, The man who panned ‘Oz’
“I think a claim can be made for Ferguson as the writer of the best and most subtly influential film criticism ever turned out in America.”
High praise for the Jazz Age writer with a rebellious streak Ferguson staked his claim to literary greatness with the New Republic, where he churned out film
reviews that entertained and enlightened many, and left others aghast. In his notorious pan of “The Wizard of Oz.”
His love of jazz resulted in finely honed critical pieces, which helped shape the public’s perceptions of this distinctly American art form. Ferguson’s life and career were tragically brief. He initially opposed the United States’ entry into World War II, but answered the call of duty following the Pearl Harbour attack. He was killed in 1943 when the ship he was aboard was bombed in the Bay of Salerno. The explosive hit the messroom, where he’d gone alone to have a cup of coffee.