The Wiz


2h 13m 1978

Brief Synopsis

A schoolteacher is swept to a magical land to face witches, wizards and a singing scarecrow.

Film Details

Also Known As
Wiz, mago, El
MPAA Rating
Genre
Adventure
Musical
Fantasy
Adaptation
Release Date
1978
Production Company
Universal Pictures
Distribution Company
Cic Productions; Universal Pictures
Location
World Trade Center, New York City, New York, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 13m
Sound
Dolby
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

One night during a New York City snowstorm, a young African-American kindergarten teacher leaves a large family dinner to chase after her dog. To Dorothy's dismay, she gets swept up by a cyclone and transplanted to the urban version of the land of Oz.

Cast

Diana Ross

Dorothy

Michael Jackson

Scarecrow

Nipsey Russell

Tin Woodsman

Ted Ross

Lion

Mabel King

Evillene

Theresa Merritt

Aunt Em

Thelma Carpenter

Miss One

Lena Horne

Glinda The Good

Richard Pryor

The Wiz

Stanley Greene

Uncle Henry

Clyde Barrett

Subway Peddler

Derrick Bell

Crow

Roderick Specer Sibert

Crow

Kashka Banjoko

Crow

Ronald Stevens

Crow

Tony Brealond

Gold Footman

Joe Lynn

Gold Footman

Clinton Jackson

Green Footman

Charles Rodriguez

Green Footman

Carlton Johnson

Head Winkie

Ted Williams

1st Munchkin

Mabel Robinson

2nd Munchkin

Damon Pearce

3rd Munchkin

Donna Patrice Ingram

4th Munchkin

Harry Madsen

Cheetah

Gloria Van Scott

Rolls-Royce Lady

Vicki Baltimore

Green Lady

Carlos Cleveland

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Mariann Aalda

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Aaron Boddie

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Gay Faulkner

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Ted Butler

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

T B Skinner

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Jamie Perry

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Daphne Mcwilliams

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Douglas Berring

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

James Shaw

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Johnny Brown

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Gyle Waddy

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Dorothy Fox

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Frances Salisbury

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Beatrice Dunmore

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Traci Core

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Donald King

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Claude Brooks

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Billie Allen

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Willie C Carpenter

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Denice Dejon

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Kevin Stockton

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Alvin Alexis

Aunt Em'S Party Guest

Crew

Dede Allen

Editor

Nickolas Ashford

Songs ("Can I Go On Not Knowing" "Is This What Feeling Gets?")

Tom Bahler

Choir Arranger

Tom Bahler

Music Conductor

Mendel Balitz

Original Music

L. Frank Baum

Book As Source Material ("The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz")

Chris Boardman

Original Music

Stan Bochner

Sound Editor

William F Brown

Play As Source Material ("The Wiz")

Thelma Carpenter

Song Performer ("He'S The Wizard")

Rob Cohen

Producer

Guy Costa

Special Sound Consultant

Everett Creach

Stunt Coordinator

Robert Drumheller

Set Decorator

Ralph Ferraro

Original Music

Jack Fitzstephens

Sound Editor Supervisor

Jack Fitzstephens

Music Editor

Bob Florence

Original Music

Bob Freedman

Original Music

Dennis Glouner

Matte Photography

Sam Goldrich

Production Accountant

Al Griswold

Special Effects

Ken Harper

Executive Producer

Burtt Harris

Associate Producer

Dick Hazard

Original Music

Lena Horne

Song Performer ("Believe In Yourself")

Anthony Jackson

Song ("Poppy Girls")

Michael Jackson

Song Performer ("You Can'T Win" "Ease On Down The Road" "Be A Lion" "Emerald City Ballet")

Louis Johnson

Choreography

Quincy Jones

Song Arranger; Songs ("Can I Go On Not Knowing" "Glinda'S Theme" "Poppy Girls" "Emerald City Ballet" "Is This What Feeling Gets?")

Quincy Jones

Music Adaptation

Quincy Jones

Music Supervisor

Quincy Jones

Original Music

Quincy Jones

Dance Arranger

Mabel King

Song Performer ("Don'T Nobody Bring Me No Bad News")

Robert Laden

Makeup

Marc M Laub

Sound Editor

Hal Levinsohn

Sound Editor

Greig Mcritchie

Original Music

Theresa Merritt

Song Performer ("The Feeling That We Have")

Pete Meyers

Original Music

John J. Moore

Art Direction

Oswald Morris

Director Of Photography

Al Nahmias

Sound Editor

Frank Owens

Dance Arranger

Jack Priestley

Director Of Photography 2nd Unit (2nd Unit)

Wayne Robinson

Original Music

Ronald Roose

Sound Editor

Philip Rosenberg

Art Direction

Diana Ross

Song Performer ("Can I Go On Not Knowing" "Soon As I Get Home" "Ease On Down The Road" ""Be A Lion" "Is This What Feeling Gets" "Believe In Yourself")

Ted Ross

Song Performer ("Ease On Down The Road" "I'M A Mean Ole Lion" "Be A Lion")

Nipsey Russell

Song Performer ("Ease On Down The Road" "What Would I Do If I Could Feel" "Slide Some Oil To Me" "Be A Lion")

James Sabat

Sound Recording

Joel Schumacher

Screenwriter

Valerie Simpson

Songs ("Can I Go On Not Knowing" "Is This What Feeling Gets?")

Charlie Smalls

Lyrics ("The Wiz" Play)

Charlie Smalls

Songs ("The Feeling That We Have" "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" "I'M A Mean Ole Lion" "Be A Lion" "Emerald City Ballet" "Don'T Nobody Bring Me No Bad News" "Believe In Yourself")

Charlie Smalls

Music; Music ("The Wiz" Film)

Edward Stewart

Set Decorator

Bill Taylor

Matte Photography

Robert N Tucker

Music Director

Kenneth Utt

Production Manager

Luther Vandross

Song ("Everybody Rejoice")

Richard Vorisek

Sound Department

Tony Walton

Production Designer

Tony Walton

Costume Designer

Albert Whitlock

Special Visual Effects

Stan Winston

Special Makeup

Film Details

Also Known As
Wiz, mago, El
MPAA Rating
Genre
Adventure
Musical
Fantasy
Adaptation
Release Date
1978
Production Company
Universal Pictures
Distribution Company
Cic Productions; Universal Pictures
Location
World Trade Center, New York City, New York, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 13m
Sound
Dolby
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1978
Tony Walton

Best Cinematography

1978

Best Costume Design

1978
Tony Walton

Best Score

1978

Best Song Score

1979

Articles

Richard Pryor (1940-2005)


The scathing, brilliantly insightful African-American comic who proved himself on many occasions to be a highly competent screen actor, died of a heart attack on November 10 at his Encino, California home. He was 65. He had been reclusive for years after he publicly announced he was suffering from multiple sclerosis in 1992.

He was born Richard Thomas Pryor III on December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois. By all accounts, his childhood was a difficult one. His mother was a prostitute and his grandmother ran a brothel. His father was rarely around and when he was, he would physically abuse him. From a young age, Pryor knew that humor was his weapon of choice to cut through all the swath he came across and would confront in his life.

After high school, he enlisted in the Army for a two-year stint (1958-60). When he was discharged (honorably!) he concentrated on stand-up comedy and worked in a series of nightclubs before relocating to New York City in 1963. In 1964, he made his television debut when he was given a slot on the variety program On Broadway Tonight. His routine, though hardly the groundbreaking material we would witness in later years, was very well received, and in the late '60s Pryor found more television work: Toast of the Town, The Wild Wild West, The Mod Squad ; and was cast in a two movies: The Busy Body (1967) with Sid Caesar; and Wild in the Streets (1968) a cartoonish political fantasy about the internment of all American citizens over 30.

Pryor's career really didn't ignite until the '70s. His stand up act became raunchier and more politically motivated as he touched on issued of race, failed relationships, drug addiction, and street crimes. His movie roles became far more captivating in the process: the piano man in Lady Sings the Blues (1972); as a wise-talking hustler in a pair of slick urban thrillers: The Mack (1973) and Uptown Saturday Night (1974); the gregarious Daddy Rich in Car Wash; his first pairing with Gene Wilder as Grover, the car thief who helps stops a runaway train in his first real box office smash Silver Streak (both 1976); and for many critics, his finest dramatic performance as a factory worker on the edge of depression in Paul Schrader's excellent working class drama Blue Collar (1978).

On a personal level, his drug dependency problem worsened, and on June 9, 1980, near tragedy struck when he caught fire while free-basing cocaine. Pryor later admitted that the incident, was, in fact, a suicide attempt, and that his management company created the lie for the press in hopes of protecting him. Fortunately, Pryor had three films in the can that all achieved some level of financial success soon after his setback: another pairing with Gene Wilder in the prison comedy Stir Crazy (1980); a blisteringly funny cameo as God who flips off Andy Kaufman in the warped religious satire In God We Tru$t (1980); an a ex-con helping a social worker (Cicely Tyson) with her foster charges in Bustin' Loose (1981). He capped his recovery with Live on the Sunset Strip (1982), a first-rate documentation of the comic's genius performed in front of a raucous live audience.

In 1983, Pryor signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures. For many fans and critics, this was the beginning of his downslide. His next few films: The Toy, Superman III (both 1983), and Brewster's Millions (1985) were just tiresome, mediocre comedies. Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling (1986), was his only attempt at producing, directing, and acting, and the film, which was an ambitious autobiographical account of a his life and career, was a box-office disappointment. He spent the remainder of the '80s in middling fare: Condition Critical (1987), Moving; a third pairing with Gene Wilder in See No Evil, Hear No Evil; and his only teaming with Eddie Murphy in Harlem Nights (1989).

In 1986, Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system that curtailed both his personal appearances and his gift for physical comedy in his latter films. By the '90s, little was seen of Pryor, but in 1995, he made a courageous comeback on television when he guest starred on Chicago Hope as an embittered multiple sclerosis patient. His performance earned him an Emmy nomination and he was cast in a few more films: Mad Dog Time (1996), Lost Highway (1997), but his physical ailments prohibited him from performing on a regular basis. In 1998, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington gave Pryor the first Mark Twain Prize for humor. It was fitting tribute for a man who had given so much honesty and innovation in the field of comedy. Pryor is survived by his wife, Jennifer Lee; his sons Richard and Steven; and daughters Elizabeth, Rain and Renee.

by Michael T. Toole
Richard Pryor (1940-2005)

Richard Pryor (1940-2005)

The scathing, brilliantly insightful African-American comic who proved himself on many occasions to be a highly competent screen actor, died of a heart attack on November 10 at his Encino, California home. He was 65. He had been reclusive for years after he publicly announced he was suffering from multiple sclerosis in 1992. He was born Richard Thomas Pryor III on December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois. By all accounts, his childhood was a difficult one. His mother was a prostitute and his grandmother ran a brothel. His father was rarely around and when he was, he would physically abuse him. From a young age, Pryor knew that humor was his weapon of choice to cut through all the swath he came across and would confront in his life. After high school, he enlisted in the Army for a two-year stint (1958-60). When he was discharged (honorably!) he concentrated on stand-up comedy and worked in a series of nightclubs before relocating to New York City in 1963. In 1964, he made his television debut when he was given a slot on the variety program On Broadway Tonight. His routine, though hardly the groundbreaking material we would witness in later years, was very well received, and in the late '60s Pryor found more television work: Toast of the Town, The Wild Wild West, The Mod Squad ; and was cast in a two movies: The Busy Body (1967) with Sid Caesar; and Wild in the Streets (1968) a cartoonish political fantasy about the internment of all American citizens over 30. Pryor's career really didn't ignite until the '70s. His stand up act became raunchier and more politically motivated as he touched on issued of race, failed relationships, drug addiction, and street crimes. His movie roles became far more captivating in the process: the piano man in Lady Sings the Blues (1972); as a wise-talking hustler in a pair of slick urban thrillers: The Mack (1973) and Uptown Saturday Night (1974); the gregarious Daddy Rich in Car Wash; his first pairing with Gene Wilder as Grover, the car thief who helps stops a runaway train in his first real box office smash Silver Streak (both 1976); and for many critics, his finest dramatic performance as a factory worker on the edge of depression in Paul Schrader's excellent working class drama Blue Collar (1978). On a personal level, his drug dependency problem worsened, and on June 9, 1980, near tragedy struck when he caught fire while free-basing cocaine. Pryor later admitted that the incident, was, in fact, a suicide attempt, and that his management company created the lie for the press in hopes of protecting him. Fortunately, Pryor had three films in the can that all achieved some level of financial success soon after his setback: another pairing with Gene Wilder in the prison comedy Stir Crazy (1980); a blisteringly funny cameo as God who flips off Andy Kaufman in the warped religious satire In God We Tru$t (1980); an a ex-con helping a social worker (Cicely Tyson) with her foster charges in Bustin' Loose (1981). He capped his recovery with Live on the Sunset Strip (1982), a first-rate documentation of the comic's genius performed in front of a raucous live audience. In 1983, Pryor signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures. For many fans and critics, this was the beginning of his downslide. His next few films: The Toy, Superman III (both 1983), and Brewster's Millions (1985) were just tiresome, mediocre comedies. Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling (1986), was his only attempt at producing, directing, and acting, and the film, which was an ambitious autobiographical account of a his life and career, was a box-office disappointment. He spent the remainder of the '80s in middling fare: Condition Critical (1987), Moving; a third pairing with Gene Wilder in See No Evil, Hear No Evil; and his only teaming with Eddie Murphy in Harlem Nights (1989). In 1986, Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system that curtailed both his personal appearances and his gift for physical comedy in his latter films. By the '90s, little was seen of Pryor, but in 1995, he made a courageous comeback on television when he guest starred on Chicago Hope as an embittered multiple sclerosis patient. His performance earned him an Emmy nomination and he was cast in a few more films: Mad Dog Time (1996), Lost Highway (1997), but his physical ailments prohibited him from performing on a regular basis. In 1998, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington gave Pryor the first Mark Twain Prize for humor. It was fitting tribute for a man who had given so much honesty and innovation in the field of comedy. Pryor is survived by his wife, Jennifer Lee; his sons Richard and Steven; and daughters Elizabeth, Rain and Renee. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

'Michael Jackson' 's song "You Can't Win" was originally written for the stage version, for the Winkies to sing to Dorothy about the futility of escaping from Evillene. The song was cut from the play during pre-Broadway tryouts but was included in the film as the Scarecrow's song.

In his book "Making Movies", Sidney Lumet admits that a production number was cut that was supposed to take place in the plaza of the World Trade Center because the high winds there disrupted filming.

Simultaneously with the release of the film, Congoleum, the flooring company that created the Yellow Brick Road for the film, marketed the same design (called "Yellow Brick Road") for home use.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall October 24, 1978

Released in United States November 2006

Released in United States Fall October 24, 1978

Released in United States November 2006 (Shown at AFI/Los Angeles Film Festival (20 Years of AFI Fest) November 1-12, 2006.)