Ease on Down...
The Wiz is a 1978 feature musical film released by Motown studios and Universal Pictures. The film is based off the successful 1974 Broadway show of the same name. The film starred actress and singer Diana Ross as Dorothy. The film also had the talents of Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow, Nipsey Russell as the Tinman, Ted Ross as the Cowardily Lion, Lena Horne as Glinda and Richard Pryor as The Wiz. The film was neither a commercial or a box office success, but is still viewed by many movie lovers as a classic. The film is also considered a cult classic among the African-American community and is one of the most famous all African-American family films ever made. This is one of the Oz only films that is closer to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz than the 1939 film.
The film starts out on a snowy evening in Harlem. In Aunt Em's Harlem apartment, Dorothy, a twenty-four year-old kindergarten teacher who "has never been south of 125th street", attends Thanksgiving with her family. Despite having many family members Dorothy has no friends, children and is very shy and humble. Dorothy's only friend is her pet dog Toto.This
After a Thanksgiving dinner with relatives, Aunt Em has a talk with Dorothy about getting a new job, finding a new place and meeting new people. Afterwards, Toto runs out the door while Dorothy is cleaning up. Dorothy chases after him into the cold streets right in the middle of a snow storm. She eventually catches him but not in time, it's too late. There is a huge blizzard (The work of Glinda the Good Witch Of the South) that sweeps her and Toto away, far away into space until the two cross over in the Land of Oz (which is a parallel universe of New York City).
As Dorothy holds Toto while she descends from the sky, they crash land into Munchkin Land. Which is a giant playground tagged up with lots of graffiti. When Dorothy came down from the sky she crahsed through a big "Oz" sign above the Munchkins playground. In the middle of the bright glowing sign was a large "Z", which made the sign crush Evamene to death. Evamene was the Wicked Witch of the East aka the "Parks Department Commissioner" who just happened to be walking under the sign at that very moment but was unseen. And once she is killed the curse on Munchkinland is immediately broken. This automatically awakens the Munchkins, who were flattened onto the walls of the playground and doomed to be graffiti forever as punishment by Evamene for spray painting on her playground walls.
The Munchkins rejoice and thank Dorothy for setting them all free and show Dorothy the dead Witch as she lies crushed under the broken Z.
Suddenly, Miss One (The Good Witch of the North) arrives to see the now free Munchkins. However, Dorothy doesn't understand whats going on and has no clue where she is, as she demands answers to all the chaos happening around her. Miss One tells her she's in the land of Oz and gives Dorothy Evamene's pretty Silver Shoes for doing everyone in Oz a favor for killing Evamene.
With advice from the Munchkins and Miss One, they tell Dorothy to go visit The Wiz. (He's The Wiz!) He will help her find a way back home and is the only powerful one to do so. All Dorothy has to do is find the Yellow Brick Road that leads to the Emerald City. Miss One then reminds Dorothy to never take the Silver Shoes off and to watch out for the poison Poppies.
Dorothy is egar to seek the Wiz, but the problem is she can't find the road as there is no road around in sight. (Soon As I Get Home).
After wandering aimlessly in Oz, she comes across and cornfield in the middle of a vacant lot with the Scarecrow . The Scarecrow gets tormented on a daily basis by a group of bullying crows (You Can't Win). Dorothy decides to stand up for the Scarecrow and tells Toto to scare the crows off so she can help the Scarecrow and save him from the crows.
In return he chooses to accompany Dorothy on her journey to see the Wiz for a brain. And shortly after the Scarecrow finds the Yellow Brick Road and off they go, (Ease On Down the Road).
The road leads through an old Amusement Park that was abandoned long ago, Dorothy and the Scarecrow meet and rescue the Tin Man, who is a rusted solid in a uncomfortable position. The Tin man tells his new friends that he wants to gain a heart to love (If I Could Feel). So they quickly invite him on their journey so he can ask the Wiz for a heart, right after they oil him up first (Slide Some Oil To Me). Later on down the road, the group of friends are attacked by the Lion who was banished from the jungle and hid infront of a Library posing as a statue (I'm a mean ole lion) After he frightens them, Toto bites him on his paw and begins to cry. They all get angry at the beast but soon feel sorry after he says he isnt brave and wishes for some courage. Dorothy, the Scarecrow and Tinman invite him to see the Wiz also.
On the way they all run into frightening obstacles. First they follow the road into an underground subway, there they meet an old homeless peddler (who has been secretly spying Dorothy on her journey the entire time). The peddler unleashes two giant evil Kalidah puppets to chase Dorothy and her friends. Other objects of the subway, such as trash cans, an electrical panel and even the pillars awaken and try to kill the group. Luckily, the Lion rescues his friends by bravely fighting off the monsters and they safely escape the subway.
The group then encounters the poison "Poppy Girls". Stopping to have some innocent fun, Dorothy, the Lion and Toto are put to sleep, with magic poppy glitter to poison them to stop Dorothy from reaching the Emerald City. However, the Tinman's tears save them both and they are awakened by the deadly trance. The Lion feels deeply ashamed for putting his friends in danger after he just saved them from the subway's monsters, but Dorothy comforts him. (Be A Lion).
Finally, they all arrive at the Emerald City and see the Wiz .The city citizens are rich socialites who changed their clothes magically according to what colors the Wiz says is in or out of style. Thanks to Dorothy's Silver Slippers, the Wiz allows her and her friends an audience. The Wiz says he won't grant any of their wishes unless they kill Evillene, who runs a sweatshop in the sewers of Oz and keeps The Winkies as her slaves and workers. She also has the crows, the peddler and Poppy Girls working for her as her slaves for failng to stop Dorothy. (Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News).
She figures out that Dorothy and her friends are coming to kill her and sends out her Flying Monkeys (a motorcycle gang) to kidnap them. The Monkeys chase them all around through an abandoned arena and after the friends are captured, Evillene dismembers the Scarecrow, flattens the Tinman, and hangs the Lion by his tail trying to make Dorothy give up the slippers. When she threatens to burn Toto, Dorothy nearly gives the slippers up until the Scarecrow , whos still able to move, hints her to a fire sprinkler switch. Dorothy pulls the lever activating the sprinkler system which puts out the fire and melts Evillene (who is allergic to water). The Winkies are freed from Evillene and help Dorothy's friends and celebrate the witch's death (A Brand New Day).
The Flying Monkeys take them to the Emerald City only to discover the Wiz is a phoney. But soon they all realize that they dont need his magic to get their wishes because everything they need was in them all along. (Believe in Yourself).
Just as it seems that Dorothy will never get home, the beautiful Glinda appears and encourages Dorothy by telling her home is where the heart is (Believe in Yourself Reprise) and how to find her way home by clicking her heels three times. (Home).
After saying goodbye to all her friends she takes Toto in her arms, thinks of home and the things she loves about it, and clicking her heels finds herself back in her neighborhood and is finally home again. Dorothy runs into her building and back into her family.
- Diana Ross as Dorothy
- Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow
- Nipsey Russell as the Tinman
- Ted Ross as the Cowardly Lion
- Theresa Merritt as Aunt Em
- Thelma Carpenter as Miss One
- Lena Horne as Glinda
- Mabel King as the Wicked Witch of the West
- Richard Pryor as The Wiz
Songs in the film
- The Feeling That We Had
- Can I Go On ?
- 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
- Ease on Down the Road (2)
- ( I'm a) Mean ole lion
- Ease on Down the Road (3)
- Poppy Girls
- Be a Lion
- Emerald City sequence
- Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News
- A Brand New Day
- Believe in Yourself
- Believe in Yourself (reprise)
Differences from various versions of The Wizard of Oz
- Dorothy is a grown woman instead of a little girl
- Dorothy and her family live in New York instead of Kansas
- Dorothy flies through the tornado instead of her inside the house
- Glinda the Good Witch of the South conjures up the tornado
- A piece of a giant sign, instead of Auntie Em's house, falls on The Wicked Witch of The East
- The Crows are able to talk to the Scarecrow
- The Scarecrow is made entirely of garabge, from the inside all the way to his clothes
- The Scarecrow finds the Yellow Brick Road, since the Munchkins don't direct Dorothy towards it
- The Tinman is an old amusement park animatronic instead of a woodsman
- The Lions banished from the jungle
- The Kalidahs are replaced by a homeless peddler and his subway of doom
- The Emerald City citizens constantly change colors
- The Wicked Witch has a factory instead of a castle
- The Wiz stays in Oz instead of leaving in a hot air balloon
- Dorothy tells the Three Friends that they have what they wanted all along, since the Wiz doesn't give them rewards