Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Finian's Rainbow

US movie (1968). Warner/Seven Arts. Pr Joseph Landon. Dir Francis Ford Coppola. Screenplay E Y Harburg, Fred Saidy. Based on the musical Finian's Rainbow (staged 1947) by Harburg and Saidy, based in turn on James Stephens's The Crock of Gold (1912). Starring Fred Astaire (Finian McLonergan), Petula Clark (Sharon McLonergan), Don Francks (Woody Mahoney), Al Freeman Jr (Howard), Barbara Hancock (Susan [Mahoney] the Silent), Tommy Steele (Og), Keenan Wynn (Senator Billboard Rawkins). 145 mins. Colour.

Finian and daughter Sharon come from Ireland to small US community Rainbow Valley bearing a crock of gold (which is also a crock of Wishes) that Finian has "borrowed" from a leprechaun, Og; Finian believes that in the USA, because of its riches, gold planted in the ground will naturally grow – especially here, near Fort Knox. Og pursues, for the lack of his crock is turning him mortal. Between them the three cast light into hearts that were before filled only with darkness, bring a measure of prosperity to Rainbow Valley, and in their different ways find Love.

Coppola has referred to this musical as a "disaster" and Astaire called it a "disappointment", yet time has favoured it: for example, the lack of formal choreography, regarded on FR's release as a failing, seems today a strength. FR's anti-racism may seem trite today, but it is partly because of movies like FR that this has become so. Throughout FR there are themes of blarneyesque mythopoeia (the cod Oirish is tolerable, just) and of the Magic to be discovered in the everyday. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.