The fabulous land of Oz rocks in the spectacular musical based on the smash hit Broadway show. In this Motown production, Dorothy is a shy Harlem Kindergarten teacher who, while searching for her lost dog Toto in a swirling blizzard, is whisked to a wonderland to follow the yellow brick road. Director Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Murder on the Orient Express), not content to merely film the stage production, transforms the physical attributes of New York City into the fabulous land of Oz. Diana Ross reaches new heights as Dorothy and her co-stars include Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow, Nipsey Russell as the Tin Man, Ted Ross as the Cowardly Lion, Lena Horne as Glinda the Good Witch and Richard Pryor as the Oz's Great Wizard. With such a cast, exciting musical numbers and fabulous visual effects, The Wiz will reach every generation of moviegoers.
Directed by Sidney Lumet (Serpico
) and penned by Joel Schumacher (Batman and Robin
), this lavish 1978 adaptation of the Broadway hit The Wiz
was the biggest production filmed in New York City up to that point, utilizing the newly revamped Astoria Studios and locations around the city. Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, and Ted Ross (reprising his Tony-winning role as the Lion) star in this Academy Award-nominated musical for the whole family.
The Wiz is probably the grandest take on L. Frank Baum's classic tale The Wizard of Oz. The production team created sets with a sense of urban magic and spectacle: a New York subway station literally comes to life, and the massive plaza between the World Trade Center towers is transformed into the Emerald City, featuring nearly 400 dancers with three costume changes. Like all good musicals, the Quincy Jones arrangements are highly hummable long after viewing (especially the funky "Ease On Down the Road" and the inspirational "Brand New Day"). In an era before MTV, the camera stays nearly stationary as Ross and Lena Horne vocally soar through their numbers. Their stage-like performances successfully make the leap to film, making The Wiz a testament to their singing talents and star presence. The then-thirtysomething Ross raised some eyebrows playing the traditionally teenaged Dorothy, but she and her supporting cast (including Richard Pryor as the Wiz) carry the tunes with an infectious verve that will appeal to folks of all ages. --Shannon Gee