Film: The Wiz

Opened: October 24, 1978

Directed by: Sidney Lumet

Starring: Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Richard Pryor, Lena Horne, Mabel King, Thelma Carpenter, Stanley Greene & Theresa Merritt

A loose film adaptation of the 1974 Broadway musical inspired by The Wizard of Oz, The Wiz is more entertaining than the previous film but doesn’t hold the same storytelling strength.

Dorothy (Diana Ross) is a 24-year-old kindergarten teacher who never strays far from home. During a blizzard, she’s transported to Oz where she’s told the best way to get home would be to ask the Wiz (Richard Pryor). Accompanied by Scarecrow (Michael Jackson), Tin Man (Nipsey Russell) and Cowardly Lion (Ted Ross), Dorothy makes her way to the Emerald City.

With adaptations and additions by Quincy Jones, the music is the highlight of the film. Jackson’s early song, “You Can’t Win, You Can’t Break Event,” speaks on racial tensions still felt today, while Ross’ voice soars – however, Dorothy is still a poorly-written character.

Final say: Doesn’t fulfill all wishes. ★★★☆☆

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