Here's a picture that had it all: big stars, a hit Broadway show, infinite reservoirs of goodwill from the source material, and a hip disco sound.
Unfortunately, in having it all, it also had all you can think of go wrong - Sid & Marty Krofft-calibre costumes; a cheesy neo-Metropolis design scheme; busy, pointless numbers full of flailing extras; terrible stop-motion animation; and rear-projections that wouldn't have passed muster in a Poverty Row programmer.
Still, it also had Lena Horne, and the only on-screen pairing of Motown's two greatest stars, and if nothing else it entirely sums up, good and bad, the times that made it.
This week it seems to mark the end of a certain road, or one not taken. Imagine if it had been a hit, with both its stars then leading a revival of the musical genre that rolled on for a half-dozen years or so - maybe Miss Ross in a neo-Lady in the Dark, or Jackson paired up with someone like Irene Cara for a string of song-and-dancers. Well, didn't happen; the same year brought us Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and a musical drought that even the success of Grease couldn't stem.
On the other hand, its failure freed Jackson up for Off the Wall - and everything else that happened after. Maybe it really is a shame it flopped.