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The Wiz (1978)

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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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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

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

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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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
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (uncut) | (cut)

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stephanie Mills who starred in the Broadway production of the Wiz was in the top running to play Dorothy in the movie before Diana Ross commandeered the role. Much has been made of Miss Ross being too old to play the part; (she was 34); but Miss Mills was also considerably older than the role. Dorothy is supposed to be 5 in the "Wizard of Oz" book; she is 12 in the 1939 "Wizard of OZ" movie; but Miss Mills herself was 21 when 1978 production of "The Wiz" came out. See more »

Goofs

After the sprinklers have turned off, everyone is suddenly dry. See more »

Quotes

Lion: [singing after Tinman revives him from the Poppy's spell] How high the moon, zo za zo zo zay.
[chuckles]
Lion: [snorts] W'us han'in', babe?
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

If You Believe In Yourself (Dorothy)
Written by Charlie Smalls
Performed by Diana Ross
See more »

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User Reviews

Just Like a Broadway Show--from the Cheap Seats
28 August 2004 | by IconsofFrightSee all my reviews

I just watched this for the first time, I've was expecting a true spectacle of "bad" cinema. I was surprised to find there is a decent movie here.

Some people have remarked Diana Ross was too old to play Dorothy, OK, well, so was Judy Garland. True. There's really nothing wrong with this musical--The songs are excellent, performed by some great talents. The production design is spectacular (maybe a little dated, but still something to look at). The sets are a little nightmarish looking, true, but I liked that. I reminded me of "Return of Oz", a favorite of mine too. The real problem with this movie is the damn direction and cinematography.

What were they thinking? The Munchkin scene is not only lit horribly (too dark!), but all the musical numbers seem like they're just comprised of master shots. Very few close ups of dancers, other singers, and even main characters. During the "Ease on Down the Road" number Lumet has us staring at Diana Ross and Michael Jackson's back from far away in the distance for two minutes. It felt like I was watching this movie from the cheap seats. Thus, I always felt distanced from the characters and situations, and just couldn't get into the movie.

I read Sidney Lumet's book "Making Movies" and I remember him writing in detail about shooting to get proper coverage. What happened here?


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