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



(novel), (book) | 1 more credit »
3,590 ( 237)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Lion / Fleetwood Coupe de Ville
Thelma Carpenter ...
Stanley Greene ...
Clyde J. Barrett ...
Subway Peddler
Derrick Bell ...
The Four Crows
Roderick-Spencer Sibert ...
The Four Crows
Kashka Banjoko ...
The Four Crows
Ronald 'Smokey' Stevens ...
The Four Crows


Dorothy, a twenty-four-year-old kindergarten teacher, born; raised; and still working in Harlem, is celebrating Thanksgiving with her extended family, but she doesn't seem to be thankful for much in life. She lives a self-imposed sheltered life; she is shy and unfulfilled. Things change for her when she is caught in a snowstorm while chasing after her dog, Toto. They are transported to the mysterious Land of Oz, where she is informed that the only possible way to find her way back home is through the assistance of the powerful wizard in Emerald City. As she goes searching for him, she befriends some creatures who are facing problems in life just as she is. In their quest to find and get help from the wizard, they also face Evillene, the equally evil sister of Evermean, the wicked witch, whom Dorothy inadvertently killed when she arrived in Oz, and who may be their biggest obstacle in achieving their goals. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


From the book that's an American tradition...from the smash-hit Broadway show...the entertainment of the year! See more »


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 October 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El mago  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$24,000,000 (estimated)


$13,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (uncut) | (cut)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Motown Productions bought the rights to the stage show with the intent of having Stephanie Mills reprise the role of Dorothy. However, Diana Ross lobbied intensely for the role. Despite the fact that everyone (including Motown head and former lover Berry Gordy) believed that she, being 13 years older than Mills, was too old, she insisted that the role of Dorothy was ageless. She also said she would be able to guarantee Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow if she was cast. See more »


During the wide shot in "Slide Some Oil to Me" when Nipsy Russell is dancing in front of the mirrors, there's a large hole in the canvas behind him. You can see a camera through the hole, and a couple of times, you can see a reflection of him dancing in the camera lens. See more »


Dorothy: You mean, you sent us to kill Evillene, knowing we might never come back?
The Wiz: She would have killed me, she would have found out I had no power, and took over Oz.
Dorothy: That's no excuse.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Featured in It's Black Entertainment (2002) See more »


Home (Finale)
Written by Charlie Smalls
Performed by Diana Ross
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Some good moments, but overall the film is too static, too misconceived and too mediocre
11 May 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

As an all-time lover of The Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland, I wanted to see this movie, despite all the negative reviews. I took part in a school production of this and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to this. While the Wiz had its good moments, it was so disappointing. I found it too static, too misconceived and too mediocre for my tastes.

Starting with the good things, first and foremost Michael Jackson. He is surprisingly good as the Scarecrow, with just about the right amount of energy and innocence for the role. His vocal rendition of You Can Win was thoroughly enjoyable especially. Nipsy Russell and Ted Ross also do nice work as The Tin Man and Lion, and Lena Horne(R.I.P) is a lovely Glinda. Mabel King does well with what she has as Evillene, which admittedly isn't much, though I felt she died too easily. I will say I thoroughly enjoyed the songs, Ease On Down the Road is by far the catchiest and the most memorable.

However, I hated Diana Ross's Dorothy. I love Diana Ross, but she was not right for Dorothy at all, she is too old in my personal opinion that is, she has been in much better voice before as well and she fails to capture the cherubic innocence of Judy Garland coming off as haggard and whiny. Even worse was Richard Pryor's Wiz, I found him far too loud and cocky, it was as if Pryor hadn't realised he was playing "the wonderful yet mysterious Wizard of Oz", because if anything it felt like another one of his comedy skits. The story is good on the whole if somewhat rickety and flow-less in places, but then there are some pointless scenes; I am especially talking about the subway scenes, those scenes were completely unnecessary.

I had mixed feelings on the sets. Some are beautiful and expensive-looking but others especially the one in You Can Win looked like sets from Monty Python. Some costumes are nice, such as Lion's and Glinda's but the Winkies's are less successful. The dialogue is occasionally amusing, but it is also very inane as well, Sidney Lumet's direction is very heavy-handed here and the choreography is messy particularly in the Emerald City Ballet sequence and a Brand New Day. The camera work and lighting ranges from adequate to appalling with the lighting in The Munckin Scene too dim and the camera work very static in more than one place throughout the course of the movie. The movie is filmed sometimes at such a distance, you have difficulty empathising with any of the characters and their situations. The pacing is often off as well, as the film progresses the pacing becomes increasingly elephantine and pedestrian. And talk about an abrupt ending, completely unsatisfying and rushed. When it ended, I was like "that's it?"

Overall, had its good points, but The Wiz could have been much better with more focused direction, choreography, camera work etc. 4/10 Bethany Cox

7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: