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Finian's Rainbow

Finian's Rainbow title card

Year - 1968
Studio - Warner Bros. Seven Arts
Stars - Fred Astaire, Petula Clark, Tommy Steele, Don Francs, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Hancock, Al Freeman, Jr.
Director - Francis Ford Coppola
Writing Credits - E.Y. Harburg, Fred Saidy
Music - Burton Lane

Synopsis

Finian McLonergan (Fred Astaire), with his daughter Sharon (Petula Clark), has come from Ireland to America to make his fortune. He has brought with him a pot of gold that he "borrowed" from Og, a Leprechaun, to plant in the hills of Kentucky, near Fort Knox, to grow his own gold. But Og has followed him here to reclaim the gold before its loss turns him into a mortal.

They arrive in a picturesque village, Rainbow Valley, where the land is about to be foreclosed on by a corrupt sheriff so that a greedy senator can own the entire valley. Finian helps the village leader, Woody Mahoney (Don Francks) pay the delinquent taxes to prevent the foreclosure, in exchange for an acre of land for himself.

When geologists inform Senator Billboard Rawkins (Keenan Wynn Jr.) that they have detected the presence of gold near his land, on the only parcel he doesn't own, he visits the villagers and informs them he is seizing the property by eminent domain, and he insults and demeans the black residents. Angered by his overt racism and wishing he could be on the receiving end of his hatred, Sharon angrily blurts out, "I wish you were black". The power of the pot of gold causes the Senator to become black, and he runs off into the woods.

Finians Rainbow poster

Sharon and Woody fall in love (underneath "that old devil moon") and he asks her to marry him. As the wedding ceremony begins in an old barn, the district attorney, sheriff and police arrive to stop the wedding and arrest Sharon with witchcraft for turning the Senator black. Finian realizes he needs his pot of gold to make a wish to change the Senator back, but he discovers that it is not where he buried it.

Finian believes Og has taken the gold back but, confronting him, Og denies it. Finian rushes back to the barn where Sharon is held, but the building is accidentally set afire by the district attorney lighting his cigarette. Still convinced that Sharon is a witch, he purposely delays attempts to extinguish it.

Meanwhile, Og is romancing Susan the Silent, a pretty deaf mute girl who expresses herself through dancing. (He had been infatuated with Sharon, but "when he's not near the girl he loves, he loves the girl he's near"). He idly expresses a wish that she could talk, which is immediately granted, and allows him to discover the gold which had been hidden by her. He knows that if he uses the final wish to save Sharon, he will be permanently mortal but, having fallen in love with Susan, is ready to give up his Leprechaun life.

Og's wish turns the Senator's skin back to Caucasian, but he now has a more tolerant attitude toward race relations. The villagers and police work together to extinguish the barn fire and rescue Sharon.

Finian decides that it's time to move on to seek his fortune and he bids Sharon, Woody and the villagers goodbye, saying, "I'll see you all in Glocca Mora." Sharon explains to Woody that the term refers to whatever is over the next hill.

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The screen musical Finian's Rainbow was suggested for this site by Karine Phillipot.