The wiz! The stars! The music! Wow!
Dorothy (Diana Ross), a 24-year-old Harlem teacher who’s never been south of 125th Street, ends up in a fierce winter storm that takes her to a magical land – where she accidentally kills a wicked witch. This filmization of the Broadway musical was a notorious flop at the time, panned for Ross’s performance and a generally heavy-handed production. Some of the Motown music makes up for it, as well as those NYC locations that have been “Oz-ified”. Would have been more fun with tighter editing; the last half-hour is a drag.
1978-U.S. 133 min. Color. Directed by Sidney Lumet. Screenplay: Joel Schumacher. Novel: L. Frank Baum (“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”). Book: William F. Brown. Music: Quincy Jones. Song: Charlie Smalls (“Ease On Down the Road”). Cinematography: Oswald Morris. Costume Design: Tony Walton. Cast: Diana Ross (Dorothy), Michael Jackson (Scarecrow), Nipsey Russell (Tinman), Ted Ross (Lion), Mabel King, Theresa Merritt… Lena Horne, Richard Pryor.
Trivia: John Badham was first hired as director. This was Jones’s first collaboration with Jackson.