Toto, I Don't Think We're in Harlem Anymore.
Of course you have, you're a human being on this planet, you've seen that movie. We're not talking about that movie today, though (at least mostly not). We're talking about its 1970's step-cousin "The Wiz", starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and a terrifying amount of additional star power.
"The Wiz" had come out on Broadway in 1975, only a few years before this film was made, and it won a slew of awards, notably "Best Score", "Best Choreography" and "Best Musical" at the Tony's. One would expect that a film adaptation of this musical would do just as well, especially if it was made when the stage version was still fresh in everyone's minds.
That's not what happened. This movie flopped, big time. Some critics credit this film with setting African Americans in film back several decades, an astounding claim given that the Wiz is an unsubstantial film in the first place.
Could the creators of this film guess that the stakes would be so high upon its theatrical release? More simply, what happened during the translation from stage to screen to cause this kind of blowback? And what merit does this film have now over 40 years later?
We're taking a trip down the yellow brick road with today's drinking game. Hopefully we'll be left sober enough to walk home; turns out the cabs in Oz are pretty unreliable.