NOTE: I should mention that I didn’t watch the entirety of The Wiz, I took the film out of my DVD player around the time we’re introduced to The Lion. What can I say? Sometimes you just have to value the little time you have on this earth.
Recently I went to the library and rented a stack of “Black Power/Get Emilio Woke” films. One of these films happened to be The Wiz
Boy was I not aware the mess I was about to watch.
I knew of The Wiz as being a cult classic and since NBC did a live version of it a year or two ago, I guess it’s not completely foolish that I assumed the original version wouldn’t be a colossal piece of shit. Obviously that was a mistake.
As The Wiz begins it’s a fairly decent musical. It’s colorful, the scenery of New York in the 70s is wonderful to look at and even though Diana Ross when it comes to acting is the complete opposite of the talent she is in a music studio or on stage, it’s a decent watch. Then we get to a scene where Michael Jackson is a scarecrow and four guys in the cheapest crow Halloween costumes are taunting him and you’re racking your brain trying to figure out how this made it into the final cut and released into theaters.
The only explanation can be that the set must’ve had so many drugs that it made Studio 54 look like a daycare.
The Wiz is directed by Sidney Lumet, who has directed numerous films, quite a few of which are seen as some of the most important films ever made. So it’s somewhat fascinating to try to comprehend that he also directed The Wiz, which has a lower quality than a shoestring budget Shakespearian production on PBS. Joel Schumacher apparently also wrote the script and it would be an introduction to the mediocrity he would bludgeoned us over the head with years later.
As mentioned earlier The Wiz begins to fall apart when we’re left with Diana Ross, someone who has the acting chops of anybody who has been in only two plays in high school. The songs (the ones I heard at least) are just as mediocre and make The Wiz a truly unbearable experience.
According to the Wikipedia page for The Wiz, this was the film that killed the Blaxploitation genre and it isn’t hard to believe because there are far more redeeming things about Scream Blacula Scream than there are about The Wiz.
If you want to see the black Wizard of Oz, I would say watch the NBC Live production that was on a couple of years ago. I’ve yet to see it but it sounds that unlike the original production of The Wiz, there was quality and talent actually being applied to it.