5.5/10
13,673
161 user 38 critic

The Wiz (1978)

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

Videos

Photos

Edit

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
Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In his book "Making Movies," Sidney Lumet admits that filming the Emerald City sequence on the plaza at the World Trade Center had to be cut short because of wind and scheduling. The red sequence had to be shortened due to a lighting error, and there was no time to re-shoot. The Port Authority would not allow more time to fix mistakes. See more »

Goofs

When the Red people are dancing in front of a camera at the Emerald City, there is a giant screen that shows the people dancing. A red woman goes in front of the people and does a dance, but her movement on the screen does not match the moves that she makes in front of the camera. See more »

Quotes

Dorothy: He must really be in shock!
Tinman: Oh, what I wouldn't give to be in shock! Just Once!
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

If You Believe In Yourself (Reprise)
Written by Charlie Smalls
Performed by Lena Horne
See more »

User Reviews

 
Static and sterile, despite some good moments
27 April 2006 | by nineandthreequartersSee all my reviews

A good artist knows the ins and outs of his genre and creates works that clearly belong with others of the same type. A great artist knows more than one genre, crosses their boundaries and unites things that aren't supposed to belong together, creating a new genre of his own. In this film, director Sidney Lumet - who has proved himself as a good director with his mastery of gritty realism - tries to cross those boundaries and unite his gritty style with the film musical. He pours his ingredients into the wicked witch's cauldron, mixes them together... and sadly creates a hotpot of sloppy seconds.

The first point of contention has to be the grossly mis-cast Diana Ross as Dorothy. I have read in various places that she gained the part from playing personal politics and schmoozing with the honchos at Universal. As this game has no honour whatsoever, I see no reason to be diplomatic when talking about how damn awful she was at this part. Not only was she too old to be a convincing Dorothy, but she just could not act to save herself. Her squealing ham of a performance does nothing for movie, and when the movie cuts to one of her "emotional" close-ups, you can just picture the few seconds beforehand when Lumet must have said, "OK, Diana, it's time to do your scared/sad/excited/confused face... ACTION!", and the camera proceeds to film a few seconds of overacting that could fit into a song about feelings by Barney the dinosaur. Granted, her singing in the movie is mature and soulful, but this only makes the acting seem even more awkward and out-of-place in comparison.

Combine this with Lumet's tendency to stage scenes with a master shot with so few cutaways, close-ups or focus on the finer details of choreography or design. Then notice a lack of flow from once scene to another, and everything seems so out of place that by the time the characters arrive at the Emerald City, it's VERY hard to be interested in the movie. The later highlights such as Mabel King's performance as Evillene and Lena Horne's performance as Glinda fade into the obscurity that the film has inflicted upon itself.

Michael Jackson and Nipsey Russell give credible performances as the Scarecrow and Tin Man. It's equally heartening to see Jackson in the days before he became a living tabloid headline/punchline and disturbing to think that while he shines in this role, his performance as a stumbling, confused character on a quest to find himself became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like or hate the music, but the material and the performances could have been much better served by a script that didn't scream out its point at every opportunity and direction that occasionally inter-cut some of the finer details with the 'big picture'


31 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 161 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 October 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Wiz See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$24,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$21,049,053

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$21,049,053
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

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
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page



Recently Viewed