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The Wiz (1978)

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3:31 | Trailer
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
2,375 ( 309)
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 self-imposed 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 Emerald City. As she searches for him, 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 Dorothy inadvertently killed when she arrived in Oz; Evillene might be their biggest obstacle. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Wiz! The Stars! The Music! Wow! See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The CBS Television Network's eyeball logo, slightly modified with an O and a Z in the middle of the walking microphone and camera, was used in the Emerald City dancing scenes. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Tinman: [after Dorothy cannot find his heart in his chest] Nobody home in Soulville.
See more »

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

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

User Reviews

The art of adaptation...
29 January 1999 | by MorlockSee all my reviews

Normally, I feel that it is a travesty to remake an older, classic film (sequels excepted). Profits aside, what is the motive? What is there to add? "The Wiz," however, is one of the few exceptions to my belief. Whereas "The Wizard of Oz" is more of a child's film, the intended audience for "The Wiz" is a few steps above that. Like its predecessor, "The Wiz" is both visually stunning and musically engaging. It compliments the seriousness of its themes and situations--both of which it has in more abundance than its predecessor--with a copious amount of humor. Seldom have I witnessed a more creative work of adaptation than that which is presented by "The Wiz," which is, of course, adapted from L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." A few others that spring to mind are "Logan's Run" and "The War of the Worlds." I mention these not because they were simply a good translation of book to film, but because they maintained the book's overall story (plot, theme, characters, etc.) while retailoring the environment and/or situation. "The Wiz" focuses on the "black situation." It redresses all of the elements from its source material to meet the needs of its revamped, modern, social subject matter. From the Scarecrow, who represents a pitiable, underachieving product of his environment; to the poppies, which represent drug addiction; to the denizens of Oz, who are ready to follow the latest trend just to be "in;" the story presents its audience with a generalized glimpse at the breakdown of "black" culture and society. Though "The Wiz" does not convey the same childlike wonder, magic, and fantasy that both the original film and the novel do, it translates those elements into more of an industrialized, mechanical, inner city playground. Unfortunately, albeit appropriately, the Oz we witness is through an older Dorothy's eyes. Interestingly, due to her advanced age, the circumstances that befall her must be harsher in order to invoke the necessary change of heart. Unlike the setting in "The Wizard of Oz," which exists in our dreams, "somewhere over the rainbow," the setting in "The Wiz" occupies our nightmares. The contrast between Judy Garland's Oz and her native Kansas is many times greater than that between Diana Ross' Oz and her native New York. The incentive to return home is greater for Diana--even though the colorful lure of a fantasy land is not present--since her Oz may be merely a preview of things to come (back home), if she does not start to make a difference. One of the few things for which I did not care was all-too-recognizable, yet modified New York as Oz. Though the entire film's art direction was brilliant, I found New York to be too distracting and too contemporary to be an adequate Oz. Another subject of distaste for me was the "end of slavery" segment after Evillene's liquidation. The song and dance were nice and full of energy, but the symbolism was too literal and seemed out of place with regards to the rest of the film. I could have also enjoyed a bit more denouement and perhaps even an epilogue about Dorothy's reunion with her family. Three interesting notes: 1) The landscape of Oz in "The Wiz" actually does change after Dorothy intervenes to make a difference; this does not happen in "The Wizard of Oz." 2) While Judy's visit to Oz seems to be concussion-induced, Diana actually appears to visit that fabled land, which is closer to the book. 3) "The Wiz" contains all four witches presented in the book; "The Wizard of Oz" only contains three. Though it seems rather dated today, "The Wiz" is still a fun movie to view, and it contains a number of known (Motown) celebrities.


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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

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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