Produced by: Joseph Landon, Joel Freeman (Associate)
Written by: Yip Harburg, Fred Saidy
Choreographed by: Hermes Pan
Cinematography: Philip H. Lathrop
Words and Music by: Yip Harburg, Burton Lane
Production Company: Warner Brothers
Premiere: New York, October 9, 1968
Synopsis (from VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 2001): A leprechaun comes to America to steal back a pot of gold taken by an Irishman and his daughter in this fanciful musical comedy based on a 1947 Broadway hit. Both the sprite and the girl find romance; the share-cropping locals are saved by the cash; a bigot lears the error of his ways; and Finian (Astaire) dances off to new adventures. The fine production and talented cast and not used to their best advantage by the director who proved much better suited for "The Godfather." Entertaining, nevertheless. (3 out of 4)
Those of you who’ve read my piece on “Silk Stockings” will be familiar with my short discussion on the decline of the musicals. This movie, in my opinion, supports that thesis. Despite having a number of good actors, other key people behind the camera had no idea how to create a musical, butchering a promising piece into a mish-mash of poorly choreographed sequences. Chief among these is Francis Ford Coppola, then still the young Wunderkünd, who obviously has no idea what a musical should be. His idea of choreography was to have people running about waving their arms while the camera tracks them and music plays. Worse yet, when Hermes Pan disagreed, he was fired.
Still, in spite of all this, it’s a nice movie, entertaining, amusing and charming. Fred may not dance very well (It’s more akin to “moving around”, as he described his appearance in TE!2), but he was 68 when he made the movie, after all. Barbara Hancock seems to be an excellent dancer- whatever happened to her after this movie? And I was delighted to see good ol’ Keenan Wynn, whose last appearnce with Fred was in that stellar and delightful movie, “The Belle of New York.”
The best number, in my estimation, is “When I’m Not Near The Girl I Love”. All that running up and down those little hills, timed to the music, is charming and seems to be inspired in its innocence. Fred also produces a number of good moments, for example his jig in the beginning, after he and Pet say goodbye to the townsfolk, and when he’s burying the crock of gold.
All in all, this movie is a nice little encore. Fred is not the same song-and-dance man we all love, but he can still sing and dance and charm us. That final scene, showing him strolling off into the sunset, made me sniffle a little. There he goes, off to greener pastures and to put those dancing shoes away and to rest those aching feet. God bless you, Fred, and thanks for the memories!