An adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz" that tries to capture the essence of the African-American experience.

Director:

Sidney Lumet

Writers:

L. Frank Baum (novel), William F. Brown (book) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Diana Ross ... Dorothy
Michael Jackson ... Scarecrow
Nipsey Russell ... Tinman
Ted Ross ... Lion / Fleetwood Coupe de Ville
Mabel King ... Evillene
Theresa Merritt ... Aunt Em
Thelma Carpenter Thelma Carpenter ... Miss One
Lena Horne ... Glinda the Good
Richard Pryor ... The Wiz (Herman Smith)
Stanley Greene Stanley Greene ... Uncle Henry
Clyde J. Barrett Clyde J. Barrett ... Subway Peddler
Derrick Bell Derrick Bell ... The Four Crows
Roderick-Spencer Sibert Roderick-Spencer Sibert ... The Four Crows
Kashka Banjoko Kashka Banjoko ... The Four Crows
Ronald 'Smokey' Stevens Ronald 'Smokey' Stevens ... The Four Crows
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Storyline

24-year-old kindergarten teacher Dorothy, born, raised, and still working in Harlem, is celebrating Thanksgiving with her extended family, but she doesn't seem to be thankful for much. She lives a sheltered life and is shy and unfulfilled. When she gets caught in a snowstorm while chasing her dog Toto, they're transported to the mysterious Land of Oz, where she's informed that the only way she can find her way home is through the assistance of the powerful wizard in the Emerald City. As she searches for him by easing down the Yellow Brick Road, she befriends some creatures who face problems in their lives. In their quest to find the wizard, they also face Evillene, the equally evil sister of Evermean, the wicked witch whom Dorothy inadvertently killed when she arrived in Oz; Evillene might be their biggest obstacle. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Motown remake of "The Wizard of Oz"! See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of two mid-1970s rock music/musical pictures inspired by 'The Wizard of Oz'. The two feature films are the American 'The Wiz' (1978) and the Australian 'Oz: A Rock and Roll Road Movie' (1976). See more »

Goofs

The shadow of a boom mic is visible on the door through which Aunt Emma walks as she and Dorothy enter the dining room to collect the dirty dishes from the table. See more »

Quotes

Scarecrow: [after finding out the Wiz is actually is politian from New Jersey, quotes] 'Public office is the last refuge of the incompetent' - Penrose!
The Wiz: [laughs hysterically] Incompetent! That's me!
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Crazy Credits

Fitzstephens, Jack ... Music Editor & Guru See more »

Alternate Versions

When this movie debuted on CBS, the network trimmed several scenes to fit in a 3 hour block with commercials. Several scenes cut included: The arrival of the baby and its family at Aunt Emme's party. Some of the dancing and the Poms sequence with the Munchkins (it cut from them going down the stairs to some of them doing acrobatics). Portions of Mean Ole Lion were cut out. The chase sequence in the subway platform omitted how the Scarecrow and the Tin Man are rescued by the Lion. The Poppy Girls close-up shot was cut. Dance portions in the Emerald city during the Green and Red clothing were cut. The entire Emerald City Motel sequence was omitted plus Dorothy asking the guards of the gate how to get to Evilynn's. (It cut from RIchard Pryor peeking out to the time clock at the sweat shop). See more »


Soundtracks

The Feeling That We Have
Written by Charlie Smalls
Performed by Theresa Merritt and Aunt Em's Party
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User Reviews

OK Kids, get ready for a weird one.
17 November 2002 | by bsswebSee all my reviews

This film remake of the outstanding 1970s Broadway musical of the same name both shines and clunks on the big screen. Coming off somewhere between "Thank God It's Friday" and "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" (and in Diana Ross' case, "Sybil"), the film version of The Wiz is not good, not bad -- just plain weird.

One of the main problems of the film (everyone's said it before and I'll say it again), is the casting of Ross as Dorothy. While I found her singing numbers to be wonderful and full of emotion, Diana just plays the role too dark and brooding. She cries so much that she winds up looking like a neurotic mental case on the verge of suicide. (Reviewer Leonard Maltin said she "weeps and whines" her way through this.) And no makeup job in the world could make the mature Ross look like a young, innoncent girl (even though, in the film, she's supposed to be a 24-yr old teacher). Diana is just a depressing, unbelievable Dorothy, despite what a wonderful singer she is.

Another problem is the look and feel of the film. For a movie that was rated G and based on the family fare of The Wizard of Oz, it sure wasn't that childlike. An overall depressing tone, low lighting, and freaky costumes and set design drag this film down. It freaked me out when I saw it as a kid, and now seeing it again as an adult, I now understand why. Don't get me wrong, I think the sets are outstanding, but kids movies should not look like a horror flick.

(And speaking of horror flicks, one scene even looks like one as attacking trash cans with teeth recall "Jaws.")

There are many positives of this film, however. The excellent score that was perfected in the Broadway run is enhanced by soaring arrangements by Quincy Jones. (A guilty pleasure is the funky disco Emerald City numbers.) Also, every member of the supporting cast is outstanding and well-cast.

But overall, the screenplay is just too weird for any adult, much less kid, to enjoy. At 133 minutes, it seems to drag on forever and ever. The Wiz is not a total failure, and everyone involved should have felt proud to be a part. But without the entertaining musical/dance numbers and a few comic-relief moments (delivered by the Scarecrow, Tin Man & Lion), The Wiz would just be a bad memory of Diana Ross' career. Anyone's who's really interested in the magic and promise of The Wiz should hope that the Broadway play is revived in its original glory (as it was sometime in the 1990s).


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 October 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Wiz See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$24,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$21,049,053

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$21,049,053
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (uncut) | (cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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