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MusicalsGalore

Thoughts on "Finnians Rainbow"?

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Fred Astaire was fantastic in this movie, as was Petula Clark. The colorful sets were absolutely stunning as well. 

 

I hear people say it's a bad movie but I really enjoy it 

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I've never seen the whole film, only snippets, which seem pleasant. I love the original Broadway cast album with Ella Logan and David Wayne (who won the Best Featured Actor in a Musical Award at the very first Tony Award presentation). Here's Ella singing "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" from the original 1947 production. At the 25th anniversary Tony Awards in 1971, David Wayne, representing 1947, sang a segment of one of his songs from the show.

 

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I've always simply loved the song: "If This Isn't Love".

"Finian's Rainbow" was said to be Jack Kennedy's favorite musical in 1947-- too bad the film wasn't made closer to 1947. LOL

Reportedly Fred Astaire and Hermes Pan felt that the production on this film was one of the worst experiences they had ever had working on a musical together.

Having said all that, it's not such a bad musical film at all.  Although I can see how some people would just say it was horribly dated to be released in 1968 in America.

But today you can still watch it and pretend it's 1947 all over again.

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The musical score is great. "Old Devil Moon" is my favorite. Petula Clark is charming--had she been born earlier, she could have been a huge musical star in the 1940s. Fred Astaire is a delight, as always. Although the story is dated, I suspect the film now looks better than many films that seemed "hip" at the time.

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It came in at the late-60's/early-70's post-Sound of Music decline of musicals, when the financial flops were lining up thick, so this one was tossed on the pile out of genre frustration--But to this day, I have NO IDEA why else it's considered a "disaster" or an "embarrassment", or such.  (Although the "Golden Turkey" Medveds referred to it as, quote, "One of those post-TSOM 60's musicals where characters run across fields singing to overhead aerial shots", which, yes, is correct.)

My theory is that it has to do with our wishful idea of discovering that (giggle!) Francis Ford Coppola directed it early in his career, and that he must be (snicker!) embarrassed by it.  I ended up renting the disk from the library with Coppola's personal-recollection introduction, and he still has a lot of affection for the movie.  With his dad as a composer, Francis had done a lot of work with stage musicals, and when he got a big studio musical to do, he fondly remembered Finian from his college-theater days and wanted to do it.

The whole inserted "Black tobacco botanist" plot looks inserted to make the 40's musical "60's relevant" in terms of MLK-era Southern racism, and that actually feels more dated than the 40's musical source.  Still--speaking as one who defends Gene Kelly's last musical--this one isn't bad for Fred Astaire's last musical, and is arguably the one GOOD movie Tommy Steele ever got to be remembered for.  ("The Happiest Millionaire" and "Half a Sixpence" are...pretty dire.)  I once asked on a movie thread "Whatever happened to Tommy Steele, anyway?", and some wiseacre replied, "I dunno, maybe his teeth ate him."  😄

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9 hours ago, EricJ said:

 

The whole inserted "Black tobacco botanist" plot looks inserted to make the 40's musical "60's relevant" in terms of MLK-era Southern racism, and that actually feels more dated than the 40's musical source.  😄

FYI The plot of changing the Senator black is in the original 1947 Broadway musical. Here's the synopsis:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finian's_Rainbow

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I love Finian's Rainbow and I'm glad I'm not the only one. I grew up with this movie and thought Tommy Steele was a hilarious clown-- love his funny scenes with Fred and his hilarious song "When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love, I Love the Girl I'm Near." Yes it could look terrible compared to the Golden Age Musicals, but you have to look at it for what it is. I love the satirical undercutting of multiple issues like racism, shallow romance, and America -- "They're the best ill housed and the best ill-clad in the world!"

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16 minutes ago, LonesomePolecat said:

FYI The plot of changing the Senator black is in the original 1947 Broadway musical. Here's the synopsis:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finian's_Rainbow

Yes, but the subplot of our modern racially-progressive college-educated botanist trying to engineer Mentholated Tobacco isn't.

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One thing about THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE, EricJ, is that you can pick which version you want to watch.  I think there's 4 versions extant.     

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3 hours ago, LonesomePolecat said:

FYI The plot of changing the Senator black is in the original 1947 Broadway musical. Here's the synopsis:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finian's_Rainbow

He's talking about the Al Freeman character who shuffled that mint julep.......

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6 hours ago, Mr. Gorman said:

One thing about THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE, EricJ, is that you can pick which version you want to watch.  I think there's 4 versions extant.     

And not a single shred of plot in any one of them.

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