Wiz, The (1978): Lumet Musical Misfire, Starring Diana Ross

One of the greatest disappointments of Sidney Lumet’s career was The Wiz, an all-black musical that transposed to contemporary Manhattan the Judy Garland classic MGM , The Wizard of Oz (1939) .

The movie’s cast includes the most popular singers and actors at the time: Diana Ross in the lead, and Lena Horne, Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor in supporting roles.

The long-gestating project turned out to be a critical and box-office failure.  It was the one time in Lumet’s career that he went over schedule and over budget.

But The Wiz is credited with launching the recently refurbished Astoria movie studios, in Queens, which had been shut down for years.

Undamaged and undeterred, Lumet followed with two of the best films in his career: Prince of the City and The Verdict.