There are genuinely great moments in it, like Michael Jackson and Diana Ross dancing up the yellow brick road while singing "Ease on Down the Road" to an Emerald City of Chrysler Buildings, and the Winkies singing "Ev'rybody Rejoice" to Twyla Tharp choreography. And the cast could not be beat (though Diana Ross was far too old to play Dorothy, and in most of her scenes seems like she's having a seizure). But the film is such a terrible mess.
Well, it was directed with absolutely no finesse by Sidney Lumet, who was a master at cinematic dramas, but had zero flair for the sort of visual flourishes that a musical needs to have. The pacing is just funereal and some scenes are just flatly shot(the aforementioned "Ease On Down The Road"). It's just a chore to sit through.
Too much of it filmed in long shot.
Diana looking completely awful with the short fro and unflattering (if any) makeup.
Diana was too old and too blah, too depressed, too drab as Dorothy.. did she ever crack a smile? Maybe during "Brand New Day." It seemed bloated and long. That number in OZ (World Trade Center) seemed to go on forever.. I saw the musical several times and loved it. Originally I liked the idea of the movie concept using New York as a fantasy OZ but it didn't work. At least not for me. The soundtrack has some nice things.
R1 said it best...
As a kid I saw the original production a week after it opened and remember it like yesterday. As we were leaving the theater I said to my friend, "Diana Ross will do the movie" and a matronly lady overheard and leaned over and said "Oh Dear, she's much too old". Five years later and I was right.
The play was thrilling and fun. The movie is ugly. The costumes, the sets, and as said above the pacing was deadly. Music producer Quincy Jones, managed to take the fun funky music and Muzacked it. Lena Horn's scene with babies pinned to a wall was ridiculous.
Two words: Sidney Lumet
The movie had a huge budget but it looks like it was made for $1.25. I wonder if half the big budget didn't go up the production team's noses.
Apart form looking drab, all the biggest stars - Diana, Michael and Richard Pryor play their roles like a bunch of weepy sad-sacks. They are so annoyingly maudlin you don't care if they ever get their wishes. FWIW the other three stars, Nipsey Russell (who was an inspired piece of casting), Ted Ross and Mabel Ross are all terrific and deserve to be in a better movie.
The decision to set Oz in NYC is one of those oh-so-clever ideas that suffers from half-hearted execution. Most of this NYC is eerily deserted. Subway stations (which were inherently scary places in the 70s) are made ridiculous with be-fanged garbage cans and evil tiled pillars pursuing the foursome who ought to be laughing at them rather than running in fear.
But of course the minute they decided to cast Diana Ross as Dorothy the movie was doomed. An adult Dorothy who is emotionally stunted to the degree that she has a childlike personality is downright creepy. Michael Jackson seems to have devoted the rest of his life to living that role.
The only part of the movie I like is the snowy Thanksgiving scene at the beginning. Although it looks like the turkey is drowning in broth.
34 year-old Diana Ross was way too old to play Dorothy, and that short afro did her no favors either.
Stephanie Mills played Dorothy in the Broadway production of the Wiz to great acclaim and some people involved in the movie version wanted her to reprise her role, but TPTB came right out and said that Mills was too fucking ugly to be in a movie and they wouldn't finance it if she was cast.
Lumet, and most of the creepy cast ruined it. You're giving Jackson a free ride here? His performance scared the shit out of me and gave me nightmares. And Ross seemed like a special-needs lunatic trying to get home to the group home. But the rest of them were almost as bad.
I always loved the "Brand New Day" number, always makes me want to get up and dance.
"An adult Dorothy who is emotionally stunted to the degree that she has a childlike personality is downright creepy."
And that is precisely why I cannot ever sit through it again. Ross is either really badly directed by Lumet or attempting to try to put some dreadful pop psychological take on emotionally scarred women. Which is NOT what "The Wiz" is about!
Ross was obsessed with Barbra Streisand for quite a while (and it's the reason she and the Supremes did their ill-advised cover album of FUNNY GIRL). She wanted her own Big Film Adaptation of a Broadway Musical Smash and there weren't many options for her.
So she went after THE WIZ, and the whole "emotionally stunted" adult Dorothy was probably the only way for Ross' participation to make sense. And certainly Lumet was the kind of director who could indulge her in that direction.
But most of the problem is Lumet's flat direction. He has no idea how to film a musical number (and how would he given that he had never done a musical before on film or on stage) and his best films were always the lower-budgeted, kitchen-sink realism films from the 50's and 60's.
But then, theaters were littered with awful film adaptations of Broadway shows done by people who have no sense of how to film one (Arthur Hiller and MAN OF LA MANCHA comes to mind).
I think I can only remember "Brand New Day" being the only number that seemed to be done well...the rest of the movie didn't even look blocked, let alone choreographed.
The original was overrated too. I remember our drama teacher in jr high forced us to see a production of it, and I was bored silly. But of course the movie is even worse, unwatchable.
Horrific movie. Saw it 20 years ago and it creeped me the fuck out. It's probably the worst film adaptation of a musical ever - MAME at least has some camp value. The Wiz is jut sluggish, boring and nightmarish.
I've never seen a stage production. What are some of the differences?
R16- Dorothy is a little girl who lives in Kansas and goes to OZ by tornado, not a snowstorm.
Pretty much all the songs from the play were used for the movie except the intro to Emeralds City and the Wizard's song. Those were new as I recall.
This thread is fascinating. Is this movie as bad as "Xanadu" or the John Travolta vehicle "Perfect"? I've seen parts of those, and they are amazingly misguided.
I actually found things to enjoy about XANADU the movie and the very campy Broadway musical send up that combines XANADU plot and songs with a bit of CLASH OF THE TITANS thrown in.
never was bored with XANADU although I was with the movie version of THE WIZ. Loved the original production with Stephanie Mills.
Setting Dorothy's reality in Manhattan (rather than Kansas) was bad enough--how many tornados are there in Manhattan? But making it take place in Manhattan in Thanksgiving made it truly insane: a SNOW TORNADO... in MANHATTAN???
It made the whole thing seem like Dorothy was insane. And the bugged out way Diana sings "Soon as I Get Home" made that seem all the more so. It seems like she's having a complete nervous breakdown in that number.
For some reason, The Wiz was always on TV when I was growing up in the 80s and I was scared of it (the nightmarish qualities others have mentioned) but at the same time I couldn't look away. I haven't seen it in many, many years and I wonder what I would think of it as an adult.
Diana Ross was actually younger in this than I am now, which is a total mind-fuck.
[quote]Pretty much all the songs from the play were used for the movie except the intro to Emeralds City and the Wizard's song. Those were new as I recall.
The Scarecrow's song was changed from a gospel-style number in the play to a new funky pop tune for the movie. All three of the Wiz's songs were cut. Glinda has an introductory number in the play that was not used in the film. In the play, when the four friends learn that the Wiz is a fraud they confront him with a song called "Who Do You Think You Are?" which was also cut from the movie.
You are right R22. Forgot about those changes and the missing "Who Do You Think You Are?" I always forget that one cause it's not on the OBC recording. Thanks!
Diana Ross kills the movie. She sobs her way through every number. Mills had/still has a powerhouse belt that wouldn't quit and gave you goosebumps.
"I Was Born On The Day Before Yesterday" is a far superior song to the new one Jackson performs.
Even Ashanti did a better job at Encores! a few summers ago than Ross did, though she was a bit long in the tooth for the part too.
It's an interesting to compare The Wiz movie to Wildhorn's Wonderland, which was also reset in NYC (Dacal had to actually sing the lyrics, "Never turn your back on Gun Hill Road!") and had a grown up Alice. Both the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland stories lose a lot of their magic when not told through the eyes of a young girl.
At least Wonderland was jam packed with side-splitting camp. My friends and I still lose it when we think about that ensemble all dressed up as Alices running around the stage.
It was played on a loop on channel 11 (WPIX) in New York throughout the 80s (replaced one day a year by the Yule Log), so it has a big nostalgia factor for a lot of New Yorkers, including this kid who grew up in the suburbs and has childhood memories of graffiti-covered subway cars, Times Square v1.0, and garbage strikes.
When people ask me what New York was like in the 80s, I say "see The Wiz".
The Wizard's song , "Y'All Got It!," was a huge loss from the stage show--it's one of the best and most infectious songs in the original musical. I don't know why they cut it out unless Richard Pryor can't sing, in which case he should not have been cast.
[quote]Is this movie as bad as "Xanadu" or the John Travolta vehicle "Perfect"? I've seen parts of those, and they are amazingly misguided.
I've never seen "Perfect!" but "Xanadu," at least, is compulsively watchable. "The Wiz" has some long boring stretches (the opium sequence, almost any of Dorothy's solos) which are just awful and boring. They drag and they drag and they drag.
It's on Netflix. I'm gonna go watch it
What the Hell does "Perfect" a non-musical about health clubs have to do with "The Wiz" & "Xanadu".
R7, Mabel KING. She also played Rog and Dee's mother on the sitcom What's Happening?! Interestingly enough, Theresa Merritt plays Auntie Em and also starred with Cleavon Little in the sitcom That's My Mama! I'm surprised Shirley Hemphill didn't work her way into the mix.
Re: Stephanie Mills, terrific singer, not really an actress. Met her once, she is literally about 3 feet tall. Great face for radio.
Ross was big into EST at the time and with screenwriter Joel Schumacher filled the movie with EST messages.
I do love "Home" though. It WRECKS me every time I hear it.
[quote] Re: Stephanie Mills, terrific singer, not really an actress. Met her once, she is literally about 3 feet tall. Great face for radio.
I never knew HATE like this before!
Tailoring the film to fit Diana's peculiar talents is what ruined it. But they refused to use Stephanie Mills because even though she originated the role on Broadway. She was considered too unattractive at the time. This was one of the reasons Stephanie got loads of PS.
[quote]It's on Netflix. I'm gonna go watch it
Omg, it's best to watch it on surround sound speakers. The "Brand New Day" number is the best scene in the film. You get to see half-naked brothers.
[quote]Re: Stephanie Mills, terrific singer, not really an actress. Met her once, she is literally about 3 feet tall. Great face for radio.
She was famous for the hit song, "I Never Knew Love Like This Before".
[quote] THE WIZ: why was it such a mess?
Sometimes my wiz is a mess because my aim is just way off and I completely miss the toilet.
I friggin' LOVE this movie. I never understood all the hate for it. Sure, it's no masterpiece, but it's a helluva lot of fun. The "He's The Wizard" song and segment are fantastic, and it doesn't get much better than MJ's soulful "You Can't Win".
"Brand New Day" is really wonderful, I think. I love the production design of the sweatshop but why would there be photogenic fans built into the walls?
[quote]Soulful,on what planet?
Michael's vocals are soulful on that song.
Sorry, R41, but that song is no "You Can't Win".
They're all odd 80's movies with supposed camp appeal, R29. Connect the dots, dear...
Could young Janet Jackson have sung well enough to have played Dorothy in the movie?
I never liked Stephanie Mills' voice, so nasal, she always sounds like she's pinching her nose. Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin' is a great song, but Inner City's classic house version is way better.
Doubtful r46, considering micro-voiced, lipsynching-hack Janet can't sing well enough to sing her way out of a wet paper bag.
[quote]She was famous for the hit song, "I Never Knew Love Like This Before".
Back in the day, we used to sing along to it as "I've Never Been Fucked Like This Before."
Stephanie Mills, god bless her, had a terrific voice but she was uglier than a dog's ass.
How young is "too young" to play Dorothy? She can be as young as eight, for chrissakes.
And yes, Janet has a weak little voice, but Janet Jackson has a weak little voice, but it's not like she was going to have to sing the role live on Broadway. Studio wizards can make a weak voice work in a film.
[quote]Studio wizards can make a weak voice work in a film.
Which is why they cast Diana, who also has a weak little voice (although, like Janet's, it's appealing).
*whispers* please don't mention Janet's name too many times...or else IT will appear....
It wasn't. Fuckin' white America wouldn't give the brothers a chance. Ease On Down The Road is far better than anything in the Wizard of Oz, but white bread Judy Garland, gets a pass.
You can't blame Black America for hating the man.
I loved The Wiz. It remains one of my top ten movies of all time. Diana was old, but perfect for the part. Michael was just the greatest. I love "Ease on Down the Road". Great dancing, great singing and easily the best musical of the 70s (YES, BETTER THAN 'GREASE'!). I think anglos were just offended that people of color remade their cherished movie. For my money The Wiz is a hundred times better than Wizard of Oz.
r57, you needed to check all your oversize baggage at the gate.
"Ross was obsessed with Barbra Streisand for quite a while"
R13, that's bullshit from J. Randy Taraborrelli bio of Ross. Why are so many of these writing queens determined to push "their star" when writing about another? I once read in a Streisand bio how jealous and scared she was by Liza Minnelli, in 1967 yet. More bullshit.
I have no doubt Diana wanted to be a big film star, but obsessed with Streisand? How about obsessed with Streisand's career? That sounds more plausible.
"She (Diana) wanted her own Big Film Adaptation of a Broadway Musical Smash and there weren't many options for her."
Yeah, okay, but they didn't have to hire her.
Emilio, best laugh of the day.
Well, I will always remember it as the film that ENDED Diana Ross's film career.
And not a minute too soon...
True, R62, THE WIZ made most viewers at the cinema empathize with Dorothy only to the extent of making them wish they were home.
[quote]white bread Judy Garland, gets a pass...You can't blame Black America for hating the man.
Typical het mistake. Judy wasn't a man--the impersonators are men. Jesus.
Why does Stephanie Mills sing like a goat?
She doesn't sing like a goat? She sings like, well have you ever talked through a fan? It sounds like that.
I think she sings like a machine gun.
No it's definitely a goat.
I know you're probably just trolling R57, but in case you aren't...Nobody is saying the stage version of The Wiz is bad. In fact most people have expressed affection for the OBC(R) and the score. It's the film adaptation of the stage show that is the mess, not the actual show. No racists here, but nice try.
I loved the Broadway show, hated the movie.
Sydney Lumet deserves most all of the blame.
[quote]Fuckin' white America wouldn't give the brothers a chance.
I grew up in a very white state. My older sister's boyfriend worked at a movie theater in our state's largest city. He said The Wiz was jam-packed the first weekend but after that, they never came close to selling out again.
Bad word of mouth killed the movie, not racism.
Twyla Tharp did not choreograph THE WIZ. The film was choreographed by Louis Johnson, and frankly BRAND NEW DAY is just a bunch of skipping around.
Stephanie Mills singing both "as Soon as I Get Home" and "Home" on the OBC is really wonderful. So is Tasha Thomas's gorgeous and soulful rendition of "The Feeling We Once Had" (the most beautiful song in the score, IMO), which is completely butchered in the movie by that woman with the high trill singing Aunt Em.
You nasty ass bitches going on an and on about how "ugly" Stephanie Mills is/was don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Click on the link if you care to see the truth.
Stephanie does not sound like a goat, why all the hate?
R72, I can see how the mistake was made as the choreography for HAIR is just a bunch of skipping around as well.
Twyla Tharp genius, my ass.
Are we obligated to like Stephanie's extremely nasal voice, r75, is there some rule?
Its hard for me to even imagine what proof any of you have that Stephanie Mills was ever going to reprise the role of Dorothy in the film version of THE WIZ, but for the 500 HUNDREDTH TIME Ms Mills was NEVER ASKED to be, Nor was she even EVER considered to be, Nor was she EVEN thought to be asked to even audition for this Role. Yes she made it famous on Broadway and that was about the extent of where her involvement ever remains.
I have said here on this posting time and time and time and time again that Mills was never considered AT ALL! She just wasn't. Its so sad when a false rumor gets passed around for so many years just to continue to trash Miss Ross or this film and yet the only thing that backs up this rumor are false words written by wikipedia, bloggers etc or people that just don't know any better.
Who cares about how Diana Ross got the role, She is DYNAMITE in the film regardless to what you all say. Bottom line is this movie NEVER would have been produced had she not. All other Major Studios had turned it down and only showed interest once Ross showed interest. Producer Rob Cohen was originally going to have a national search for a new girl to play Dorothy but that idea fell through long before Diana Ross ever showed interest. In early conceptions of how this film version was to be put together at "NO TIME WHATSOEVER" was Stephanie Mill's name ever mentioned. Not even at a Motown dinner party with Motown Excutive Suzanne De passe, Tedd Ross and others was Mills even thought twice about. I have official books from Rob Cohen and Universal Studios that I have had for nearly 35 years now and none of those publications ever speak of Mills when the film is discussed in the early stages of who would play Dorothy. They don't even say her name lol.
If she was to be Dorothy don't you think they would say something like "We were considering Stephanie Mills" or "We really hoped we could get Stephanie Mills" or "Stephanie Mills was definitely our first choice"? but they say ABSOULUTELY NOTHING about this woman in a very detailed description of how the role of Dorothy was to be cast, and again this is LONG before Diana Ross even heard of the idea.
I think alot of you here still want to believe that but I'm sorry to tell you that its not true. But I'm sure that even after this posting 99.9% of you will continue to bash Diana Ross for getting the role that was NEVER EVER EVER going to be Stephanie Mill's in the first place.
This is even a link to an article with Stephanie Mills from June 2011 and even she states to the interviewer that she did not audition, nor was she ever asked to do so. So I'm not sure how all of you continue to complain that this role was Stephaine's and that Diana came along and somehow took it away from her. You can't take something away from someone that never had something to take away in the first place.
Just stop shouting.
Hey! Stephanie Mills has a fan!
[quote]Twyla Tharp did not choreograph THE WIZ. The film was choreographed by Louis Johnson, and frankly BRAND NEW DAY is just a bunch of skipping around.
Skipping around? Don't be so jealous.
Garland and Mills played Dorothy as plucky and spirited, but Ross's Dorothy is a constantly whimpering, crying, screaming mess - unpleasant to spend two hours with.
In a deleted scene, Michael Jackson jerked off a 12 year-old boy.
It's bullshit. Racism is why the film wasn't a hit.
Ross played a SCHOOL TEACHER in the film not a student.
Jackson was lauded for his ability to act and dance.
In fact all the cast received nothing but praise.
Only the racist white reviewers hated it because it wasn't black exploitation.
Diana Ross seriously creeped me out the one time I tried to watch it. I kept thinking she looked like a poorly acted psychotic, waiting around to kill everyone with a butcher knife.
[quote]Only the racist white reviewers hated it because it wasn't black exploitation.
It wasn't? It certainly wasn't a carefully considered, conscientious reflection of African-American realities. Get over yourself, idiot. The film is awful on all levels. The only people who can defend Diana Ross in that piece of shit are the type who like to punch out small dogs because they enjoy seeing them quiver and widen their eyes, rather like Miss Ross as Dorothy.
What is most profound about The Wiz is that all the lead actors have died. Diana Ross is the only one alive.
Diana Ross would have been perfect for the role of Glinda. Lena Horne might have been an amusing Addaperle, or rather, Miss One. Come to think of it, who thought it was a good idea to make Addaperle a number-themed witch and call her Miss One? Is there a joke I am missing?
Says the lipsyncher worshiper, r89. If she had legitimate talent, she wouldn't need to cheat, period, end of discussion.
Um, R91, try again, sugar. Janet is singing live in that Rosie clip.
My parents, brothers, sisters and I walked out of the theater 25 minutes into the movie back in 1978. We all hated it and joked about that movie for years afterward.
And she cheats 99% of the time. That's what you consider a great voice, whispery, no range, and heavily augmented by the background singers?
Stephanie Mills was the heart and soul of The Wiz on Broadway but I can believe that she was never considered for the movie because no one knew her and the poor thing had no neck. Her severe features were acceptable on the stage but not quite on a 40-foot movie screen.
And no one has mentioned that Luthor Vandross was called in to write the triumphant "Brand New Day."
Miss Ross should have played the wicked witch with her big buggy eyes and chicken legs...
"Come to think of it, who thought it was a good idea to make Addaperle a number-themed witch and call her Miss One? Is there a joke I am missing?"
Yes, r90, which I never got as a child and only picked up on when this thread prompted me to watch some bits of it on Netflix yesterday and heard her say something about running numbers, which led me to this on Wikipedia: "In the 1978 film The Wiz, the Good Witch of the North is portrayed as a magical numbers runner called Miss One (Thelma Carpenter), reflecting the association of the numbers game with the lower-class urban areas from which the film draws much of its imagery."
I really don't know anything about the numbers game, but am I right to suspect that it probably exploited the urban poor in order to make organized crime figures wealthy? Seems somehow fitting of the bleak and depressing Oz of this movie that it would associate one of the supposedly Good Witches of Oz with this. (Although maybe I'm wrong and the numbers game was simply a fun, harmless part of black life?)
[quote]And she cheats 99% of the time. That's what you consider a great voice, whispery, no range, and heavily augmented by the background singers?
Gawd you're dumb. Janet's voice may be small, but she has more range than some of the caterwaulers. She can be fierce and hard (Black Cat/Scream) seductive (Funny How Time Flies) introspecive (Come Back to Me) sleazy (If), breezy and cool (That's the Way Love Goes) and several more things in between. She also does all her background vocals, and her melodies are always on point.
[quote]In fact all the cast received nothing but praise.
[quote]Only the racist white reviewers hated it because it wasn't black exploitation.
If "all the cast received nothing but praise," then how could the white reviewers have hated it?
That makes no sense at all.
Black reviewers were not kind to it either. Didn't Donald Bogle say something snarky about it in one of his books??
And it was another three years before an A-list film with an all-black cast was made. It was A SOLDIER'S STORY. And the director Norman Jewison did it practically for free...just to get it made because the general consensus was that because of THE WIZ' failure, that no one wanted to go see all-black films.
All this talk about Stephanie Mills' looks moves me to remind you all that Ms. Ross has never been a raving beauty either.
You can't even hear Janet on that Rosie clip, whenever the far more talented background singers are singing, she's so easily overpowered. All good singers easily outshine their background singers. But she knows the audience would be bored silly without a few people up there up who can actually sing.
Stop threadjacking with the Janet arguments! Start your own thread if you want to argue about Janet's voice! This thread is exclusively devoted to the film THE WIZ and all the many ways in which it sucks.
You racists hate it because it's not lily white. You have to hate everything. It wasn't the greatest movie ever, but it was not that bad.
So many of you are ridiculous. Diana Ross was not too fucking old to play Dorothy. She was perfect in every way. The movie could have been better but Diana was gold. I think if it had a better director and a stronger soundtrack it would be much more loved today. Black kids loved it because we could relate to the characters much more than we could to the actors in the 1960s version with Judy Garland (no disrespect, Judy was great). Diana was in her early 30s but Olivia Newton John was in her 30s playing a teenager when she made Grease the same year. So don't give me the tired Diana was too old bull-shit. Not a great film but a fun one.
Lonnie in D.C.
[quote] the 1960s version with Judy Garland
"the 1960s version with Judy Garland"
Lena would have had more time to berate her dipshit son in law Lumet for her shitty part if she wasn't on Diana's diva ass - she hated her and her attitude. Diana was rotten to the core in the part and everyone knew it no matter how "black kids identified with her."
Did black kids really identify with Diana in this role? I think of most '70s black kids as having generally had to learn to toughen up one way or another pretty early - it's hard for me to see them identifying with an adult acting like a quivering, whimpering wimp.
R113, Yeah, I think somebody's full of shit. NOBODY liked the fucking Wiz. Nobody. No kids of ANY color liked that pile of excrement.
Janet gave a brilliant vocal performance in Black Cat. Miss Jackson can be fierce, and would have been great in The Wiz.
[quote]In fact all the cast received nothing but praise.
"Dorothy is now a shy schoolteacher in Harlem, and Diana Ross's shy is like Sergeant Bilko's modest. Fervently wet-eyed, she sings songs of preachy uplift in relentlessly slow arrangements."
"As far as the performers are concerned, the only problem is the insufferable Dorothy, who's some sort of superstar neuter, smiling through tears, with her arms always raised to the heavens. And she doesn't have the face of a dreamer. Judy Garland, with her fleshy vulnerability, provided a contrast to her three companions, but Diana Ross is as much an artifact as they are."
Dorothy is supposed to be a girl of no more than fourteen. Diana Ross was thirty-four - easily old enough to be the mother of a fourteen-year-old girl.
When John Badham was on the film, he really did want Janet Jackson for Dorothy, primarily because of her youth. He also wanted Stephanie Mills and Ren Woods in it, though obviously not as Dorothy. BTW, Woods, who played the part in the first national tour was way, way better than Mills.
When he found out that Motown would only take Diana Ross, he felt he had to get fired so he came up with a novel approach. He told the execs that the entire movie would be seen through Dorothy's eyes. In other words, we'd hear her but never see Diana. He got fired and went on to "Saturday Night Fever."
Wayne Brady did a late night talk show on, I think, VH1 and it was sort of like a male version of "The View". They discussed "The Wiz" with Harry Belafonte and he said that while some black households in this nation revere it, he "didn't like 'The Wiz' at all." The reason I remember it so well is that they used that comment as a tag in the ads for the show.
I saw the film in the Broadway theater where it opened in 1978. The theater was packed and the audience cheered the musical numbers. That kind of reaction didn't last. For me, it was torture to sit through it.
The film must have become beloved over the years on home video. As much as I disliked it originally, I hate it more now. It stinks, and Ross was horrible.
I know this is sacrilege, but I always found Diana Ross to be minimally talented. Flame away on me, but I only found her barely passable as a singer and horrid as an actress. As singers, I much preferred Fontana Bass, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Billie Holliday. Diana's voice was always too "tinny" and shrill for me.
I guess most of you would have preferred Marie Osmond as Dorothy?
[quote]I guess most of you would have preferred Marie Osmond as Dorothy?
Well, obviously, as Diana Ross was the only black female performer alive at the time.
Idiot. Stop trying so hard at being intentionally stupid--you're naturally gifted enough.
No, R122. Marie Osmond was 19 in 1978, therefore she was too old to play Dorothy.
Most of us would have preferred a black girl not more than 16 years old (the same age Judy Garland was when she played Dorothy) who could sing and dance and act.
I think most of us would have even preferred "Moms" Mabley over the pitiful, overwrought performance of Miss Ross.
"TOTO!!! TOTO!!! TOTO!!! ( repeat as one long SHRILL scream...)
Ross was excellent in LADY SINGS THE BLUES (the movie is not very good though). She really through herself into the role.
Unfortunately, her taste in films after that was awful: MAHONGANY and the misguided THE WIZ. Her film career sunk from there.
Danielle Spencer from What's Happening? would have been an interesting choice for Dorothy. I loved her.
Yeah, 127. I guess Shirley Hemphill or Nell Carter would have been good choices too? Janet Jackson was the CLEAR choice in 1978. Others who could have handled it would have been Stacy Lattisaw, and the previously mentioned Stephanie Mills (who would have been the best choice). Mills was lucky that she was not cast, since the movie turned out to be dung (regardless of who had been Dorothy).
A pity it was so bad--Ross was really good in "Lady Sings the Blues" and should have gotten a few more good parts.
In the new version of Oz, James Franco is playing Dorothy. They finally got it right. He'll look divine in gingham.
[quote]She really through herself into the role.
True. So sad her movie career was pretty much threw after The Wiz.
It's funny to me how bad Ross is in this movie. Everything Pauline Kael says about her is right on the money, but as Kael herself admits Ross is genuinely great in "Lady Sings the Blues"--she deserved an Oscar. (She just had the bad luck that year to be up against two of the greatest other performances of the decade, Liza Minnelli in "cabaret" and Cicely Tyson in "Sounder").
I'm sorry Ross did not act more--it would have been very interesting to see whether "Lady Sings the Blues" was a one-off or whether she was just miscast and poorly directed in "The Wiz." ("Mahogany" doesn't give us much help.)
I don't remember Kael raving so much about Ross in LSTB, especially her singing of the role.
I remember that as soon as the movie was over she went home to listen to her old Billie Holiday albums.
Diana Ross is a legend and a mother fuckin gay icon. Anyone who talks shit about Diana is talking shit about the gay community. She wrote I'm Coming Out for US because she loves US. Give her a break people. I can't believe how many gays have turned their backs on Diana and Madonna lately. Are we losing our humanity? What tha fuck?
Diana Fan 4Evah
[quote]Anyone who talks shit about Diana is talking shit about the gay community.
Ross was excellent in LADY SINGS THE BLUES (the movie is not very good though)"
WHY do you write like no one here has seen this movie???
Sorry, R135, but Diana Ross did not write "I'm Coming Out" for anybody. She did not write that song, period. It was written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic. They produced the album it was from ("Diana") and they wrote every song on it. As a matter, at the time of it's release, it was considered a Chic album with Diana as a guest vocalist. A Diana album in name only. Sorry.
Diana wrote all her songs. "I'm Coming Out," "Some Day We'll Be Together," "Reach Out and Touch," "Strange Fruit"... she was a songwriting machine.
She wrote I'm Coming Out for US because she loves US.
Bitch please!!! The only thing she wrote in regards to that song was the big check to Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, and it became a hit in spite of her fucking up the mixing of the album.
And then Ross went into the studio behind Rodgers back and had the album remixed, which is why it sounded so crappy.
R141 Very true.
[quote]I always found Diana Ross to be minimally talented. Flame away on me, but I only found her barely passable as a singer and horrid as an actress
Horrid? Her performance in "Lady Sings the Blues" is brilliant.
[quote]Her performance in "Lady Sings the Blues" is brilliant.
Having an excellent cast and an Oscar-nominated script does help.
Right, R144, and she was one of the excellent ones in that cast.
Lucy was set to star but they wouldn't let her cast Gale Gordon as the Scarecrow so she backed out.
The music was no good. If it had good music, none of the rest would have mattered.
The BLOAT of the movie did it in -- I loved the music and Stephanie Mills, Ted Ross and everybody on Broadway. The set was rather sparse on the stage and there was way too much amplification of the music, but I enjoyed the show.
It was on one of the HBO channels again today.
I'm pretty sure that the opening sequence wasn't Thanksgiving, it was to celebrate the coming home of Aunt Em's daughter from the hospital with her first baby. There are cards hanging in the dining area which I guess are congratulatory. Nobody sends cards for Thanksgiving. Is it a blatant continuity error that we see a turkey in the oven but Aunt Em actually serves her guests a glazed ham?
I still love Nipsey Russell's "What Would I Do (If I Could Feel)," Thelma Carpenter's "He's The Wizard" and the joyous ensemble number "Brand New Day." As badly as Quincy Jones muzacked up the score he sure did round up the best studio musicians in the world for the soundtrack. Everything still sounds fabulous.
I forgot that the execrable Joel Schumacher wrote the screenplay for this.
And yes, having Diana Ross playing Dorothy as traumatized and emotionally stunted didn't work. It really is a shame Ross was more interested in spending her life as a former icon/billionaire's wife rather than continuing to act. She really did have talent and even showed a bit of it in this movie.
Too many people who didn't believe in absolute freedom?
"Mills was lucky that she was not cast, since the movie turned out to be dung (regardless of who had been Dorothy). "
I disagree, I think it would have been better with anyone other than Ross!
It was on again today, and damn, Ross is just godawful. Whiny, weepy, quivery... the wrenching vulnerability that made her so great in "LSTB" kill this film dead.
I mean, it's a bad film by any standards, with its terrible photography and bad musical staging, but if Dorothy had been played by someone fun and energetic, then it would have been an enjoyable mess of a film, not a WTF mess of a film. Honestly, it needed a spirit of fun to work, why didn't anyone making it realize that?
Miss Janet would have been perfect in The Wiz. Those of you who disagree are just JEALOUS HO's!
I actually love the wiz movie. I think Diana being older is more moving to me since I'm closer to her age in my life. The idea of being scared of the world and afraid of change is relateable. Dorothy as a 12 year old needs to go back home, she's a child. Dorothy as an adult woman choosing to go home and fix her life while there's still time, hence the final number "home" is all the more powerful.
Can any u guys over the age of 25 honestly say everything in ur life worked out they way u had dreamed it would? What would u give for "convince time to slow up and let me start again"
Or maybe some of us have family that has passed and memories of "home" are sad as well.
I wish I was home.
NYC never looked worse in a movie. What a dumb idea. Setting it in NY and casting Diana Ross as Dorothy was one bad idea on top of another.
As the first part of the story is about a trip to a city, shouldn't Dorothy have landed further outside the actual city? It might be one thing to have NYC stand in for the Emerald City, but they made it represent all of Oz. It didn't make sense. Why set it in a city if the city is going to be mostly devoid of people?
Diana Ross as Dorothy was the biggest casting blunder since a too-young Barbra Streisand sank HELLO, DOLLY!.
I love this movie. Thelma Carpenter schooling Miss Ross with "He's The Wizard" is the inspiration for my occasional DL tag.
I could have played Dorothy!
The guy who was sitting at the table next to Dorothy at Aunt Em and Uncle Henry's party looked like a pimp. He was eyeing her up and down like she was prime merchandise. And, considering she was probably a virgin at 24, he was justified in doing so.
An example of Joel Schumacher's horrendous screenplay-Aunt Em goes on and on about wanting Dorothy to teach high school students rather than elementary school kids, implying that would help her social life. Is she hinting that maybe Dorothy can get banged by one of those fine young bucks in her class? Sounds like a Schumaker fantasy to me. I did like Aunt Em saying something like "Now you've got me sounding like a Jewish mother."
If anything deserves a tv adaptation it's The Wiz. Love the score and there are endless possibilities for casting. Fuck Peter Pan and The Cock Sucking Music Man and give us The Wiz!
[quote]Having an excellent cast and an Oscar-nominated script does help.
Help? Diana was excellent in Lady Sings.... Are you deaf and blind?
Because it had the extremely over rated Michael Jackson, the too old for this Diane Ross, idiotic costumes, and horrible music.
[quote]the extremely over rated Michael Jackson
LOL. You must be new to this planet.
I never could stand Michael Jackson.
It was proven somewhere he plagiarized songs and stole the moonwalk from some else.
I never understood his appeal OR his naming himself the king of pop.
More like the queen on over hyped crap.
Now Diana Ross was very good in LSTB and I also liked her in Mahogany.
The cinematography was ugly beyond belief. Why did anyone ever think staring at dark, foggy, diffused swaths of harvest gold and puke green looked good? Most movies from the 1970s seem to look like that for some reason.
The part of Dorothy in that film should have been played by Barbra in blackface
[quote] mean, it's a bad film by any standards, with its terrible photography and bad musical staging, but if Dorothy had been played by someone fun and energetic, then it would have been an enjoyable mess of a film, not a WTF mess of a film. Honestly, it needed a spirit of fun to work, why didn't anyone making it realize that?
[quote]stole the moonwalk from some else.
When did he claim he invented the moonwalk?
All the actors were great, it's just that Diana Ross overplayed her role. Diana Ross has natural acting talent, but she was directed wrong.
Agree, that the cinematography was all wrong, and the sets were not that attractive to look at.
The only scenes that I enjoyed was "Brand New Day", Ease on down the Road", and "If you Believe".
[quote]Now Diana Ross was very good in LSTB and I also liked her in Mahogany.
I just recently watched "Mahogany" on DVD, and the movie still holds up quite well. The fashion clothes still look timeless, and the fashion shots were beautifully filmed. I don't understand why "Lady Sings The Blues" and "Mahogany" have not been released on Blu-ray or iTunes yet.
"The Wizard of Oz" (1939) worked because Judy Garland acted like all the weirdness around her was real, and scary or wondrous.
Diana Ross tried to do the same thing, and was so whiny and weepy that she served as a buzzkill. "The Wiz" was intended to be hip and modern and at least party a parody, its Dorothy should have been aware that at least some of the stuff around her was ridiculous. Not all, because a heroine who smirks all the time is no more fun than someone who whines all the time, but she did need a sense of humor for the whole mess to work.
R151, who said the film needed some fun
Fairuza Balk in [italic]Return to Oz[/italic] was the most age-appropriate Dorothy.
They ruined an iconic movie. I saw it once on TV. I think I turned the channel about half way through.
[quote]Diana Ross tried to do the same thing, and was so whiny and weepy that she served as a buzzkill. "The Wiz" was intended to be hip and modern and at least party a parody, its Dorothy should have been aware that at least some of the stuff around her was ridiculous. Not all, because a heroine who smirks all the time is no more fun than someone who whines all the time, but she did need a sense of humor for the whole mess to work.
[italic]Network[/italic] was one of the funniest movies of all time. What's Sidney Lumet's excuse here?
I think Ralph Carter would have been perfect for Dorothy.
I don't know why some of you dizzy queens think Diana Ross was a good actress in anything. Her work in Lady Sings the Blues was horrible. If Billie Holliday had any relatives around, they would have sued.
And she tried acting again in the late 90s with the tv movie Double Platinum. It's hilarious with Roger Rees trying to act as her lover.
[quote]I don't know why some of you dizzy queens think Diana Ross was a good actress in anything. Her work in Lady Sings the Blues was horrible
And just what was so horrible about it, Mr. Stasberg?
That's Strasberg, but you know what I meant.
"And just what was so horrible about it, Mr. Stasberg?"
For starters, Diana Ross acted like she just emerged from charm school and that she walked around in a cloud of Chanel. Diana Ross was playing Lee Radziwell, not Billie Holiday.
because the untalented weirdo Michael Jackson was in it and Diane Ross was too old. and, the music was horrid.
Hey, I liked her in her own earlier movies, Lady Sings the Blues is one of the best bio movies out there.
"Lady Sings the Blues is one of the best bio movies out there."
[quote]I don't know why some of you dizzy queens think Diana Ross was a good actress in anything. Her work in Lady Sings the Blues was horrible. If Billie Holliday had any relatives around, they would have sued. And she tried acting again in the late 90s with the tv movie Double Platinum. It's hilarious with Roger Rees trying to act as her lover.
Ross actually returned to acting in 1994 when she starred in the television movie Out of Darkness and she gave an incredible performance. She was quite the talented actress.
From the Los Angeles Times:
[quote]TV REVIEW : Diana Ross in 'Darkness' Spotlight : Her impressive acting in ABC's 'Out of Darkness' on Sunday is a shattering portrait of a woman beset by 'voices and demons.'
January 15, 1994|RAY LOYND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
[quote]Diana Ross, essentially forgotten as an actress, has re-emerged after a shockingly long, self-imposed 16-year absence from the movies.
[quote]And what a considerable return it is. "Out of Darkness" (at 9 p.m. Sunday on ABC, Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42) is Ross' shattering portrait of a woman's battle with paranoia/schizophrenia, experienced even in her better moments as "voices and demons."
[quote]The pop diva image is nowhere to be seen. Instead Ross galvanizes essentially every scene in a performance so impressively controlled and cliche-free that Ross must rank as Hollywood's best-kept acting secret.
[quote]It seems her acting debut 22 years ago in "Lady Sings the Blues," for which she deserved but lost the Oscar to Liza Minnelli (for "Cabaret"), was no fluke after all. But after her steep nose dive with "Mahogany" (1975) and a so-so attempt to reignite her screen career with "The Wiz" (1978), Ross dropped out of the acting business like a falling comet.
Anyone who says the music of The Wiz is bad is just an idiot. Those songs are iconic. Home, Ease on Down The Road, You Can't Win, He's the Wiz, Mean Ol' Lion, Brand New Day...the list goes on and on.
"Out of Darkness' on Sunday is a shattering portrait of a woman beset by 'voices and demons.'
The only reason she was so good in this was because she hired Dionne Warwick to channel Flo Ballard. In every scene, Dionne stood just off camera saying, "Gurl, Mary Wilson is gonna fuck you up."
iconic music??? WTF? When has anyone heard any of the music outside of the occasional replaying of the film? The movie like most remakes was an epic fail.
[quote]The only reason she was so good in this was because she hired Dionne Warwick to channel Flo Ballard. In every scene, Dionne stood just off camera saying, "Gurl, Mary Wilson is gonna fuck you up."
R183 Take your meds.
Agreed: Home and Ease On Down The Road are very iconic songs. I don't think there's an elementary choir in America that hasn't performed it. Home is just an amazing song.
Thank you, R186. R184 is COMPLETELY, embarrassingly clueless.
The song that Jones wrote for the film version, "Is This What Feeling Gets?," really sucks.
[quote]I don't know why some of you dizzy queens think Diana Ross was a good actress in anything. Her work in Lady Sings the Blues was horrible
As the say, opinions are like assholes.
R162, I never cared for Michael's style of singing. All that hiccuping he did throughout every friggin' song was annoying. Don't get me wrong. he had some great songs in his discography (e.g. "Billy Jean," "Black or White," "Will You Be There?"), but I would have preferred someone else sing them. Michael's prepubescent voice and constant hiccuping did not cut it for me.
R189, who says that?
Shut up, r190. Nobody cares about your uninformed opinions.
"An example of Joel Schumacher's horrendous screenplay-Aunt Em goes on and on about wanting Dorothy to teach high school students rather than elementary school kids, implying that would help her social life."
Great point. I remember being completely baffled by this as a child; I had no idea why there would be anything wrong/disappointing about the profession of kindergarten teacher, or why the profession of high school teacher would be somehow preferable. From my perspective as a young kid probably only a couple of years out of kindergarten when I saw it, a teacher was a teacher was a teacher. (This brings up one of the overarching issues of the film - why do a re-telling of the WIZARD OF OZ story and fill it with things that are incomprehensible to a child? Yes, put in stuff to entertain the adults too, but don't pitch the whole thing over children's heads.)
Anyway, I guess now I can see how (in addition to the higher pay that I suppose high school teachers may get) the idea of teaching to a class of engaged high schoolers could be seen as more intellectually stimulating and rewarding than playing with kindergarteners. But did Aunt Em think Dorothy was likely to be getting a job at Dalton or Brearley or somewhere like that? I feel like the idea of putting weepy, shrieky Dorothy in front of a class at a 1978 Harlem public high school was most likely to end up with her either being shot or gang raped.
[quote]When has anyone heard any of the music outside of the occasional replaying of the film?
Does [italic]Family Guy[/italic] count?
[quote]iconic music??? WTF? When has anyone heard any of the music outside of the occasional replaying of the film? The movie like most remakes was an epic fail.
[quote]Anyone who says the music of The Wiz is bad is just an idiot. Those songs are iconic. Home, Ease on Down The Road, You Can't Win, He's the Wiz, Mean Ol' Lion, Brand New Day...the list goes on and on.
[quote]The song that Jones wrote for the film version, "Is This What Feeling Gets?," really sucks.
[quote]The Wiz was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Art Direction (Tony Walton, Philip Rosenberg, Edward Stewart, Robert Drumheller), Best Costume Design, Best Original Music Score and Best Cinematography, although it did not win in any of those categories.
[quote]Quincy Jones was the musical supervisor and music producer for the film. He later wrote that he initially did not want to work on the film, but did it as a favor to Sidney Lumet
[quote]Though the film underperformed during its initial theatrical run, by the beginning to the mid-80s, the movie had developed a cult following on the midnight revival circuit and frequent airings on BET and The Disney Channel during the 80's and 90's. The film has been played on the "sing-a-long" movie musical circuit with cultish films like "Xanadu" and "Can't Stop the Music". Universal Home Video has re-released it three times as a regular DVD, a 30th Anniversary edition with a bonus CD and a Blu-ray disc in 2011. The revenue from these commercial DVDs and the continuous television syndication on TVONE, Centric, BET, Aspire and VH1 Soul networks have helped the movie finally become profitable.
[quote]"Innumerable blessings countless felicitations thank u beyond number & additional good stuff."
The word you're looking for is racist.
Every time I go to a piano bar, I'm always overwhelmed by how many requests there are to play "Mean Ol' Lion."
FWIW, on the bright side, Lumet continued to do some fantastic work after this debacle: Prince of the City, The Verdict, Q&A, Running on Empty and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (when he was almost 87 fucking years old!).
That said, Wiz is still a stinker. Lumet's problem - which the Wiz exemplifies perfectly - is that even some of his great films have some strange casting flaws (Timothy Hutton in Q&A mars it from being the masterpiece it is, and Melanie Griffith trying to pass as an Orthodox Jew is beyond bizarre).
Few were his equal in working with actors, and I still think Lumet belongs in the Pantheon of great directors.
Sidney Lumet's birthday, June 25, is the same day Michael Jackson died. That's some coincidence.
[quote] and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (when he was almost 87 fucking years old!).
My bad: (when he was almost 83 fucking years old!).
[quote]and Melanie Griffith trying to pass as an Orthodox Jew is beyond bizarre).
Why is that so unbelievable?
The only reason that Dorothy's relatives would urge her to teach at a big-city high school, was if they wanted something to toughen her up.
I imagine they were sick of seeing her tremble and quail all the time.
[quote]She was considered too unattractive at the time. This was one of the reasons Stephanie got loads of PS.
Post script? Photoshop? Play Station? WTF does "PS" mean?
[quote]Every time I go to a piano bar, I'm always overwhelmed by how many requests there are to play "Mean Ol' Lion."
The songs of THE WIZ are iconic. As another poster said, 'Home' is a choir/church staple, and 'Ease on Down the Road' is a piece of pop culture history. Deal.
[quote]'Home' is a choir/church staple
So it's being used to promote superstition and mysticism. Lovely.
It's iconic, and you're an idiot.
If only Flo had played Dorothy . . .
[quote]It's iconic, and you're an idiot.
[italic]The Wiz[/italic] sucks and its fans are assholes.
[quote]The Wiz sucks and its fans are assholes.
Your mother sucks diseased dicks for pennies and you're a fuckhead loser. And a racist.
What the fuck with all the Stephanie Mills bashing? No doubt she would have been a hard sell as Dorothy in terms of getting the movie made, but she had the singing talent, a radiant smile, and a youthful eagerness perfect for the role.
Everybody going on about how ugly she is might as well say what you mean: her facial features are black. She wasn't ugly. She was beautiful.
And don't you remember how sweet she sounded?
[quote]Your mother sucks diseased dicks for pennies and you're a fuckhead loser. And a racist.
L. Frank Baum was a racist who called for the genocide of Native Americans, so you're defending a terrible adaptation of one of his books using ad hominem attacks? You just proved my point about this movie and its fans.
Stephanie Mills also let Jew-hatin' homophobe Louis Farrakhan officiate one of her weddings. I'm glad she wasn't cast as Dorothy. They should have gone with an unknown actress, kept everybody else, and let an actual black person direct this film.
It's on again, and damn, that short haircut looks awful on Diana Ross! It's amazing to realize that there's someone on earth who looks better with big hair.
And she has the stiff body language of a white person.
Tyler Perry as producer, and the Wicked Witch of the West, R216!
Seriously, it's the kind of movie that should be remade. The source material is good, and it's comparatively easy to do better than the first version.
A remake of the Wiz that's faithful to the stage version really could work.
We're hoping to digitally insert Michael into the remake.
Well bitches, I just started the DVR.
Turkey is being basted, living room full of people, mad the ham is being carved.
A tornado in Harlem? Um, OK.
The graffiti just came to life. "2, 4, 6, 8. Who do we appreciate?" (Obviously not the screenwriter."
Lena Horne was stunning though.
So did the munchkins on Broadway have pom poms and kazoos?
Falling asleep. The lion is overacting.
"Ross was big into EST at the time and with screenwriter Joel Schumacher filled the movie with EST messages."
So basically "The Wiz" is an EST?
Lena is awesome.
Even with the star babies stapled to the wall.
Lena is laughable, imho. Did you notice how she exists separate from all of the actors just as she did in MGM movies of the 1940s? Her part in the Wiz could have been pasted in - and phoned in.
I saw Stormy Weather 27 times
You paid to see Stormy Weather 27 times?
No, I went in on Friday and came out on a Wednesday