An Irish immigrant and his daughter move into a town in the American South with a magical piece of gold that will change people's lives, including a struggling farmer and African American ci... Read allAn Irish immigrant and his daughter move into a town in the American South with a magical piece of gold that will change people's lives, including a struggling farmer and African American citizens threatened by a bigoted politician.An Irish immigrant and his daughter move into a town in the American South with a magical piece of gold that will change people's lives, including a struggling farmer and African American citizens threatened by a bigoted politician.
The end result may not have been the "best", but it is considerably better than most critics described it upon its release. The overlong book, with several insignificant sub-plots, could have used some judicious trimming. Tommy Steele's performance as Og, the slowly-turning-into-a-human leprechaun, is frantically overblown. The film's editing is criminal in that Fred Astaire's feet are often unseen in his dance routines. And the attempt to blend reality and make-believe results in an awkwardly uneven balance of the two - Coppola would have been far more successful had he decided to emphasize the whimsical and play down the outdated political aspects of the story. But for all these shortcomings, "Finian's Rainbow" - from its spectacular opening credits to its nicely staged farewell to Finian - almost a goodbye to Astaire himself, for whom this would be his last dancing role - is pleasant entertainment, buoyed by its familiar score and anchored by the presence of Petula Clark, whose delightfully fresh and sweetly seductive performance is the true gold to be discovered here. At the time known in the States as the pop singer responsible for the mega-hit "Downtown", Clark drew on her previous experience as an actress in mostly grade-B British films and developed a character whose acceptance of a leprechaun hiding in the backyard well is as easily believed as her skepticism regarding her father's plot to multiply his borrowed gold by burying it in the shadows of Fort Knox and her fiancé's plans to grow mentholated tobacco. The Arlen/Harburg score - including such standards as "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" and "Look to the Rainbow" - could well have been composed specifically for her voice, which wraps itself around each note with a hint of a brogue and - in the case of "Old Devil Moon" - a raw sensuality suggesting the woman inside the sweet Irish colleen. Deservedly, Clark was nominated for a Best Actress Golden Globe for her portrayal of Sharon McLonergan, and if for nothing else, her performance makes "Finian's Rainbow" definitely worth a look-see.
- Nov 7, 2004