Finian’s Rainbow

Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show Finian's Rainbow at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Mar. 13, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville).
Genre: Musical Fantasy
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Fred Astaire, Petula Clark, Tommy Steele, Don Francks, Keenan Wynn, Al Freeman Jr.
Rated: G

Well, it’s not as bad as legend has it, but Francis Ford Coppola’s film of Finian’s Rainbow (1968) can hardly be called good—though Fred Astaire’s presence helps, as, to a lesser degree, does Petula Clark. There are also some good bits—like Al Freeman Jr. bringing a Bromo Seltzer to racist Senator Keenan Wynn in the slowest “Darky Shuffle” ever seen—amidst all the clunk. Plus, it’s kind of fascinating in its very wrong-headedness. Even when the stage play was new—back in 1947—it must have been the last gasp of old style liberalism with its “redistribute the wealth” politics (McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee was taking on such matters about this same time). By 1968, it seemed more than a little quaint. That’s not the kicker, though. It’s the bloated length, the awkward mix of soundstage exteriors with real ones, and the overbearing Tommy Steele’s even-more-overbearing turn as leprechaun (it makes a Lucky Charms commercial look restrained) that cooks the goose. An ill-chosen, unhappy director probably didn’t help much.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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One thought on “Finian’s Rainbow

  1. Jerry Miller

    Ken Hanke has said it all quite well. I have caught bits of this over the years on television. Today my schedule called for the full viewing and it ws TOO LONG. It has wonderful bits that I don’t regret taking the time to see, but I could well imagine patrons in their theater seats leaving before the end, despite the Intermission. An edited version with the classic songs and dances could save it for posterity.

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