“Finian’s Rainbow” is a story of greed, bigotry, and love. It’s the story of Finian McLonergan (Fred Astaire) and his daughter Sharon (Petula Clark), recent immigrants from Ireland who settle in a small town in the south. The time is the 1940s. Bigotry in the south was the rule of the day and smoking was not taboo. In fact, tobacco plays a big part of the story.
When Finian left Ireland he had stolen – or borrowed – a pot of gold. The leprechaun from whom he “borrowed” it is Og (Steele). Unbeknownst to Finian, without his pot of gold Og is slowly becoming mortal. Og follows Finian and Sharon to America to get back his gold and return to being a leprechaun. But Finian has buried it and won’t return it until he makes more gold. Foolishly believing that by burying it close to Fort Knox, his wealth will grow.
In the meantime, Sharon meets Woody (Francks), who, along with his partner Howard (Al Freeman Jr.), is developing a menthol-flavored tobacco. They are in their own search for wealth. The trouble is, the tobacco won’t burn. Then it won’t smoke. Without this new product, the town will be taken over by the local politician, Senator Rawkins (Keenan Wynn), the utmost bigot.
As all of this is going on, everyone is upset with the bigotry of the senator and the officials. Sharon vocally wishes he was black, and unbeknownst to her, she was standing on the ground where the crock of gold was buried when she shouted at him. The senator becomes a black man. The pot grants 3 wishes, and, well, that was the first.
As the story unfolds and the senator learns about bigotry first hand, Sharon and Woody fall in love, Finian anxiously awaits his big fortune, and Og turns mortal which means he has feelings. The delightful music will have viewers humming throughout the film.
The bonus feature is an introduction and commentary by Director Francis Ford Coppola. He discusses making the film and the reason why there is an introduction and intermission. The movie was originally shown as a “road show” which meant it was a special event and something more than a simple movie. The history of Hollywood and the film play out as the director talks about the movie. This 1968 film was Coppola’s first time directing a major motion picture. It’s a memorable and musical experience.
“Finian’s Rainbow” is available on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection and can be ordered at their website – www.wbshop.com.