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.
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