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Finian's Rainbow Reviews

One of many musical stinkers made during a decade infamous for them, FINIAN'S RAINBOW is sadly notable as the last screen musical of the genre's greatest star. With typical understatement, Astaire declared this mess his "biggest disappointment." Director Coppola, who generally refuses to talk about the film, is more direct in calling it "a disaster" and concedes that he was wrong to throw out the choreography and ask his cast to "fake it" instead. Had anyone taken the young director's efforts on this film seriously, he would never have directed again. Although Astaire somewhat overdoes the "Oirish" routine as a man who buries his pot of gold in America, hoping it will grow, the legendary 69-year-old star is the most vibrant thing swimming amidst this sea of gross incompetence. Only Clark, as Astaire's daughter, and Francks, as her romantic interest, emerge alongside the great dancer with any degree of credit. Steele, as the obnoxious leprechaun whose gold Finian has pilfered, projects his performance far enough to reach Pluto, let alone the last aisle of a movie theater. Wynn can do nothing but mug his way through the role of a racist senator who learns his lesson after being magically turned black. (What seemed like progressive sentiment when the stage show emerged in the 1940s makes the sugary GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER? seem raw by comparison.) Hancock, meanwhile, is utterly defeated by the annoying role of Susan the Silent, and the rest of the cast is singularly forgettable. The editing is ridiculously pell-mell, wrecking the humor, musical score and spontaneity all at once. The legendary songs are both poorly orchestrated and recorded, making the film's Oscar nominations for sound and scoring embarrassments in Academy history. "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" is one of the few numbers to escape Coppola's desperate attempts at creativity. The one image to cherish is Astaire frolicking with a group of children down a dirt path, looking like nothing so much as an elderly Pied Piper. Fun to deride for the first hour or so, FINIAN'S RAINBOW is likely to exhaust even the bitchiest critic long before the end title mercifully rolls by.