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.
Of Glocca Morra, Ireland, Finian McLongeran, who has his own unique belief system of Irish legends, uproots himself and his adult daughter, Sharon McLonergan, and heads for the mythical land of Rainbow Valley, Missitucky, USA where he believes he will become rich. One of those beliefs is that burying a crock of gold in Rainbow Valley will make it multiply, due to the power of rainbows and the Valley's close proximity to Fort Knox. Finian considers that he "borrowed" the crock of gold he has from the leprechauns of Glocca Morra, which he plans to return once he makes his fortune. Little does he know that in taking the gold, the leprechauns can no longer make wishes come true and are slowly turning mortal. One of those leprechauns, Og, has come to retrieve the crock of gold to save himself and his fellow leprechauns. Finian and Sharon's arrival in Rainbow Valley coincides with the return of the Valley's prodigal son, Woody Mahoney, who has come to repay back taxes before his land is ...Written by
Petula Clark, who had many hit records in French and English, does her own singing in the French-dubbed version of this film. The French audio track is included on the DVD. See more »
The mail-order company whose catalog is used repeatedly in the movie is named "SHEARS" - the name being clearly visible on the front cover, at many points. However, during the song "That Great Come and Get It Day", the inside of the front cover clearly reads "Only at Sears". See more »
Opening on Broadway in 1947 with music by Burton Lane and lyrics by E.Y. "Yip" Harburg (who wrote the lyrics for 1939's THE WIZARD OF OZ), FINIAN'S RAINBOW was an unexpected smash that generated one pop classic after another--"How Are Things In Glocca Morra?," "Old Devil Moon," and "Look To The Rainbow" to name but three. But when talk turned to a film version, not a single studio in Hollywood would touch it: although the story was fantasy, it was also extremely satirical, contained elements that had a decidedly socialist edge, and made one of the most wickedly funny statements on racism seen up to that time. With Hollywood operating under the production code and the nation drifting into the communist paranoia of the 1950s, the whole thing was impossibly hot. And so FINIAN'S RAINBOW remained off the screen for over twenty years... until 1968, when a sudden splash of popular screen musicals prompted Warner Brothers to bankroll it.
The plot is deliberately ridiculous, and finds Irishman Finian McLonergan (Fred Astaire) and his long suffering daughter Sharon (Petula Clark) in Tennessee, where Finian plans to bury a crock of gold stolen from a leprechaun (Tommy Steele) on the theory that the land around Fort Knox will make the gold grow. But things take an unexpected turn when they arrive in Rainbow Valley, where they encounter a commune of black and white tobacco sharecroppers doing battle with a viciously bigoted Senator (Keenan Wynn.) And when daughter Sharon is outraged by the Senator's racism and happens to be standing by the hidden crock of gold--she accidentally "wishes" the Senator black! Unlike the 1947 stage show, the big screen version of FINIAN'S RAINBOW tanked at the box office, and it is little wonder: both producers and then-novice director Francis Ford Coppola made a host of very basic mistakes with the material, the first of which was not keeping the film within its original 1940s context; they instead give it a 'contemporary' tone that not only undercuts the fanciful storyline but makes many of the story's elements seem heavy-handed. In the process they manage to blunt the edge of the original in a very significant sort of way. There are also a number of cinematic problems with the movie, which feels awkwardly filmed and still more awkwardly edited, and the film visibly shifts between outdoor set-ups and studio soundstage sets in a very uncomfortable sort of way.
All of that said, there is still a great deal to enjoy in FINIAN'S RAINBOW--the aforementioned score for one and the truly memorable performances for another. Astaire is timeless, Tommy Steele almost walks away with the show, Keegan Wynn (in spite of some rather ill-advised make-up) gives a memorable performance as the bigoted Senator, and Al Freeman Jr. is absolutely hilarious in the sequence where he applies for the job of butler in the Senator's home--I laugh just thinking about it! But the real revelation here is Petula Clark. Best known as a pop singer, Clark is perfection as Sharon McLonergan; it is a tremendous pity that she was never again so well-cast on screen. And together they manage to gloss over most of the film's weaknesses; if you're a musical fan, you're likely to enjoy it.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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