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 »
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Popularity
4,991 ( 1,303)
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:

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


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Jackson's film debut. See more »

Goofs

In the scene just after the Cowardly Lion joins the group, all four of them do a dance that begins with them walking over some taxis, and one of them clearly bounces somewhat, revealing that they're inflatables. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Dorothy: [sings] When I think of home, I think of a place where there's love overflowing. I wish I was home, I wish I was back there with the things I been knowing. Wind that makes the tall trees bend into leaning. Suddenly, the snowflakes that fall have a meaning. Sprinkling the scene, makes it all clean. Maybe there's a chance for me to go back, now that I have some direction. It would sure be nice to be back home where there's love and affection. And just maybe I can convince time to slow ...
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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 »

Connections

Referenced in House: Hunting (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Slide Some Oil To Me
Written by Charlie Smalls
Performed by Nipsey Russell
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User Reviews

Truly APPALLING in every respect
14 May 2004 | by iago-6See all my reviews

Let me establish a few things at the start: 1) I love disco, soul, and R&B, 2) I love the '70s, 3) I love bad movies, 4) I have a healthy admiration for Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, as well as many of the other luminaries in this film. All that said, this film is APPALLING IN EVERY RESPECT!

I knew this movie was poorly regarded, and I expected to like it anyway (I'm certainly not sorry I've seen it) but the ratio of potential to realization is like 100:1. I'm really surprised it has so many defenders on this site. Let's discuss:

Yes, many people have said that Diana Ross is too old. What's not mentioned is that she looks TERRIBLE! She looks like a refugee! Also, she just has the wrong voice for this part. Stephanie Mills had a strange, nasal voice, but she was a BELTER, and you need a belter for these songs. Poor Diana and her thin voice just couldn't cut it, and she had no physical charm to fall back on. Oh dear.

I was really surprised how lame the musical renditions and sound quality were. I have surround sound, and I just couldn't believe how muffled and distant the sound was. And, in my opinion, ALL of the musical performances were misfires. You could see how many of the songs could have been good in a good performance, but those just weren't to be found here.

Many people single out Lena Horne's performance as fantastic, but to me, like the rest of the movie, she was BADLY misused. Lena Horne is a nuanced jazz singer, so to hear her try to go all low-down gospel was rather painful, especially with her impeccably-enunciated "Woo! Yeah!"'s. She also looks utterly ridiculous.

I didn't get much of a sense of the old Michael Jackson we all used to love between the layers of makeup and the lack of focus of the movie and scenes.

I love how Dorothy alternates between being worried that Toto is out of her sight for even a moment because he is so precious to her, and completely forgetting about his existence for long periods of time.

Also, apparently the scarecrow's owner shredded the works of the great philosophers (or at least his copy of Bartlett's Famous Quotations) to stuff his scarecrow with?

And WHAT is happening in the sequence where the subway comes to life and attacks our heroes? WHAT is that? Also, the cowardly lion doesn't get much of a character arc, does he? One scene he's going on about how he doesn't have any courage, the next he's ferociously defending Michael against the saber-toothed garbage cans.

Now think about that: saber-toothed garbage cans. Hmmm.

I understand that during this movie our quartet go through tableaux of the issues affecting blacks in the 70's, fine... so then what's with the emerald city scene where the Wiz dictates fashion to the people below? Am I to understand that one of the major cultural issues African-Americans faced in the 70's was the tyranny of imperious fashion designers?

I was surprised that of all the things they kept from the original Wizard of Oz film, they jettisoned the device that Dorothy is just dreaming about all the people she knows, and at the end there's no "And you were there, and you were there, and you were there" scene.

I was kind of stupefied by how HUGE some of the sets were. Many looked like actual NYC locations that they has just laid a yellow-brick floor on. I would love to know if they actually did that, or just built these enormous sets.

Well, that's it! This film is not a total waste of 2 hours, but it is... quite an oddity.

--- Check out my website devoted to bad and cheesy movies at: www.cinemademerde.com


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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
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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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