|Introducing the Scarecrow|
However as for the introductions to the Tin Man (Nipsey Russell) and Lion (Ted Ross), the social subtext behind them doesn't feel visible. If it is there, it was a deeply hidden message I guess. Joel Schumacher is actually a good choice for penning the script considering Sparkle (1976) and Car Wash (1976) had predominantly African American cast members and were significant for their time. Aside from the incomplete writing, which was supposed to have an African American undercurrent, everything else was fine performance wise. Diana Ross as Dorothy is sweet, brave and caring. Michael Jackson (who is almost unrecognizable in his makeup) as the scarecrow is goofy, innocent and for a guy who's known for his footwork shows that he can look like he hasn't walked a day in his life. Nipsey Russell as the Tin Man is the soul of the group providing much of the needed energy to quite side of the bunch. Ted Ross as the Lion, who perhaps hams it up a little too much sometimes, is still funny with his cowardice personality.
All the visual elements work nicely with each other. The cinematography provided by Oswald Morris (The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)), which would be his 4th to last work expertly caught shots that had grand matte paintings and other physical set pieces. Even the special/practical effects were very convincing. The dancing also was well choreographed and staged by Louis Johnson who was nominated for a Broadway's 1970 Tony Award. Plus, the dance sequences were a no 3-4 member group count. This was wide scale, 1000 of extras on board all performing the same movement together in unison. That takes skill. As for music, the film features a soundtrack and score, both composed by Charlie Smalls who would unfortunately pass away a decade later. Here, Smalls uses a lot the 1970s style instruments used in song making at the time. That means including synthesizers, electric piano and lots bongo drums. The soundtrack is a different story.
|That's a lot of extras...imagine the work to get|
that right in one take
The social undercurrent in its writing works at first but then is completely dropped. That and one character in the movie has no real importance and some lip synching isn't all that convincing. Yet, the movie is mostly made up with decent effects, a lively main cast, great looking choreography, cinematography and catchy music.
Points Earned --> 6:10