Top positive review
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Sparkling Feelgood Musical
on 26 July 2009
This was the wonderful Fred Astaire's big screen musical swansong - and what a charming, pitch perfect musical it is.
There's not much opportunity for Fred to dance (at least not PROPERLY!) but he does give a great performance alongside the rest of a very good cast. The only downside is the Irish accent he attempts - which I rate only slightly better than Dick Van Dyke's cockney turn in 'Mary Poppins'!
That minor quibble aside, this is a superb feelgood, whimsical, family movie that features two absolutely outstanding musical numbers - 'Look to the Rainbow' and the sublime 'Old Devil Moon' - a song that literally sends shivers down the spine. There are other good ones including 'How are things in Glocca Morra' and 'If This isn't Love'. When two excellent songwriters such as E.Y. 'Yip' Harburg (lyrics) and Burton Lane (music) team-up, the end product is usually of deep-pile quality - as is the case here. As an aside, 'Yip' also wrote the lyrics for 'The Wizard of Oz' (featuring 'Over the Rainbow') which suggests he has a thing about this particular meteorological phenomenon!
Petula Clark has a lovely voice and a charismatic screen presence, and it's perfect within the context of this movie. Throw in a decent performance by Tommy Steele and you have two British singers appearing together in a major Hollywood musical. I bet that hasn't happened many times!
The vibrant, colourful print is lovely to look at, but biggest shock of all is that the movie was directed by the fledgling Francis Ford Coppola! It's like discovering that David Fincher actually had a big hand in 'The Sound of Music'!! The extras section of the DVD features a nice piece where FFC describes how he came to direct the movie and his credentials for doing so.
'Finian's Rainbow' was a massive Broadway hit on the stage when it opened in 1947 (running for 725 performances), and the only surprise is it took so long (1968) for a motion picture to be made. Please buy, watch and treasure this lovely musical.