The Wiz ★★ 1978 (G)
Black version of the long-time favorite “The Wizard of Oz,” based on the Broadway musical. Ross plays a Harlem schoolteacher who is whisked away to a fantasy version of NYC in a search for her identity. Some good character performances and musical numbers, but generally an overblown and garish effort with Ross too old for her role. Pryor is poorly cast, but Jackson is memorable as the Scarecrow. High-budget ($24 million) production with a ton of name stars, lost $11 million, and cooled studios on black films. Horne's number as the good witch is the best reason to sit through this one. ♫The Feeling That We Have; Can I Go On Not Knowing; Glinda's Theme; He's the Wizard; Soon as I Get Home; You Can't Win; Ease on Down the Road; What Would I Do If I Could Feel?; Slide Some Oil to Me. 133m/C VHS, DVD . Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Mabel King, Thelma Carpenter, Richard Pryor, Lena Horne; D: Sidney Lumet; W: Joel Schumacher; C: Oswald Morris; M: Quincy Jones.