Finian's Rainbow (1968)

G | 145 mins | Musical comedy | 9 October 1968

Producer:

Joseph Landon

Cinematographer:

Philip Lathrop

Editor:

Melvin Shapiro

Production Designer:

Hilyard Brown

Production Company:

Warner Bros.--Seven Arts, Inc.
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HISTORY

Since its Broadway debut in 1947, several attempts were made to adapt Finian’s Rainbow, the stage musical by Burton Lane, E. Y. Harburg, and Fred Saidy, to the screen. Filmmakers who expressed interest or optioned the rights included Ely Landau, Harold Hecht, Marvin Rothenburg, Mike Gordon, and Joseph E. Levine, as noted in DV and Var items published between 13 Nov 1963 and 8 Nov 1965. United Artists (UA) was briefly attached when Rothenburg and Gordon held the rights, at which point Debbie Reynolds was under consideration to star. An animated feature version was also planned at some point. In fall 1966, Warner Bros.—Seven Arts, Inc. acquired screen rights from Rainbow Co., the 27 Sep 1966 DV reported. The purchase price was a reported $200,000, plus fifteen percent of net profits once Warner Bros.—Seven Arts recouped 2.6 times the negative cost, as noted in an 8 Mar 1967 Var item. At the same time that Warner Bros.—Seven Arts’ involvement was announced, DV confirmed that Fred Astaire had been cast in the leading role, and producer Joseph Landon was collaborating on the script with E. Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy. Shooting was scheduled to begin in Apr 1967 on the Warner Bros.—Seven Arts studio lot in Burbank, CA. The budget was cited as $4 million in the 28 Sep 1966 NYT, although the 9 Oct 1968 Var review later stated that the final film came in under $4 million.
       The 7 Dec 1966 DV stated that actresses Lesley Ann Warren and Shani Wallis were contending for roles. James Caan was also ... More Less

Since its Broadway debut in 1947, several attempts were made to adapt Finian’s Rainbow, the stage musical by Burton Lane, E. Y. Harburg, and Fred Saidy, to the screen. Filmmakers who expressed interest or optioned the rights included Ely Landau, Harold Hecht, Marvin Rothenburg, Mike Gordon, and Joseph E. Levine, as noted in DV and Var items published between 13 Nov 1963 and 8 Nov 1965. United Artists (UA) was briefly attached when Rothenburg and Gordon held the rights, at which point Debbie Reynolds was under consideration to star. An animated feature version was also planned at some point. In fall 1966, Warner Bros.—Seven Arts, Inc. acquired screen rights from Rainbow Co., the 27 Sep 1966 DV reported. The purchase price was a reported $200,000, plus fifteen percent of net profits once Warner Bros.—Seven Arts recouped 2.6 times the negative cost, as noted in an 8 Mar 1967 Var item. At the same time that Warner Bros.—Seven Arts’ involvement was announced, DV confirmed that Fred Astaire had been cast in the leading role, and producer Joseph Landon was collaborating on the script with E. Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy. Shooting was scheduled to begin in Apr 1967 on the Warner Bros.—Seven Arts studio lot in Burbank, CA. The budget was cited as $4 million in the 28 Sep 1966 NYT, although the 9 Oct 1968 Var review later stated that the final film came in under $4 million.
       The 7 Dec 1966 DV stated that actresses Lesley Ann Warren and Shani Wallis were contending for roles. James Caan was also under consideration, according to a 22 Dec 1966 DV news brief, which claimed that Caan was taking voice lessons in preparation for his possible involvement. Folk singer Odetta, seven-year-old Nicci-Ann Frank, David McFarland, and Carl Kenneth St. Clair were named as cast members in the 8 Mar 1967 Var, 18 Jul 1967 DV, 19 Jul 1967 LAT, and 27 Jun 1968 Los Angeles Sentinel, and the 15 May 1967 DV noted that Jerry Antes was testing for a role.
       On 14 Dec 1966, Var indicated that Joe Layton might direct the picture. However, an item in the 13 Feb 1967 LAT announced the job had gone to twenty-eight-year-old Francis Ford Coppola. Hermes Pan, who had first collaborated with Fred Astaire on the 1933 picture, Flying Down to Rio (see entry), was brought on to choreograph. Six weeks of rehearsals began on 22 May 1967, according to that day’s DV. Joseph Landon planned to do a live run-through of the entire musical before filming began, to sharpen performances and help cut down on shooting time. Principal photography was initially scheduled to begin on 5 Jul 1967, but a 7 Jul 1967 DV production chart cited an earlier start date of 26 Jun 1967.
       According to a 1 Jun 1967 Los Angeles Sentinel item, Francis Ford Coppola briefly considered casting a black actor in the role of “Senator Billboard Rawkins,” in which case the actor would have appeared in “whiteface” for some scenes.
       The film, which was blown up to 70mm for some roadshow presentations, opened in New York City at the Warner Penthouse Theatre on 9 Oct 1968. A black-tie premiere was set to follow in Los Angeles, CA, on 16 Oct 1968, to raised funds for educational television network KCET, which planned to air a Finian’s Rainbow choral contest on 11 Oct 1968, the 24 Sep 1968 DV reported. Warner Bros.—Seven Arts’ promotional campaign was estimated to cost between $2 and $5 million, according to items in the 6 Aug 1968 DV and 14 Aug 1968 Var, which indicated that the studio would emphasize the music and cast in advertisements, as well as “‘the happiness factor’ of a fun family film and the ‘now factor’ spotlighting its social theme ‘Negroes in the South.’” While approached as a desirable marketing tool in the U.S., the film’s racial theme resulted in its banning from South Africa, which was then under Apartheid, as noted in a 28 Oct 1967 NYT brief.
       Barbara Hancock made her motion picture debut in Finian’s Rainbow, and budding filmmaker George Lucas reportedly served as Coppola’s assistant, the 31 Jan 1968 Var noted.
       The song "Necessity" is credited in some sources but was apparently deleted from the final print. Keenan Wynn's role is sometimes cited as “Judge Rawkins.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
8 Nov 1965
p. 1, 15.
Daily Variety
27 Sep 1966
p. 1.
Daily Variety
7 Dec 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Dec 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 May 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 May 1967
p. 6.
Daily Variety
22 May 1967
p. 3.
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
29 Jun 1967
p. 11.
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1967
p. 8.
Daily Variety
14 Jul 1967
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Jul 1967
p. 4.
Daily Variety
2 Apr 1968
p. 12.
Daily Variety
13 May 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Aug 1968
p. 11.
Daily Variety
24 Sep 1968
p. 13.
Los Angeles Sentinel
1 Jun 1967
Section B, p. 5.
Los Angeles Sentinel
27 Jun 1968
Section A, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
28 Sep 1966
Section D, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
13 Feb 1967
Section C, p. 23.
Los Angeles Times
15 Apr 1967
p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
19 Jul 1967
Section D, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
24 Sep 1967
Section N, p. 1, 14.
Los Angeles Times
2 Apr 1968
Section D, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
15 Sep 1968
Section I, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
13 Oct 1968
Section C, p. 1, 16.
New York Times
28 Sep 1966
p. 41.
New York Times
10 Oct 1968
p. 59.
New York Times
28 Oct 1968
p. 55.
Variety
13 Nov 1963
p. 13.
Variety
28 Sep 1966
p. 13.
Variety
14 Dec 1966
p. 13.
Variety
8 Mar 1967
p. 5.
Variety
8 Mar 1967
p. 67.
Variety
22 Mar 1967
p. 68.
Variety
29 Nov 1967
p. 13.
Variety
31 Jan 1968
p. 12.
Variety
14 Aug 1968
p. 4.
Variety
9 Oct 1968
p. 6.
Variety
9 Oct 1968
p. 11.
Variety
7 Jan 1970
p. 27.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus supv & cond
Assoc mus supv
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Supv hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Dial supv
Main titles
Main titles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the musical Finian's Rainbow, music by Burton Lane, book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg (New York, 10 Jan 1947).
SONGS
"Look to the Rainbow," "This Time of Year," "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?," "If This Isn't Love," "Something Sort of Grandish," "That Great Come-and-Get-It Day," "Old Devil Moon," "When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich," "When I'm Not Near the Girl I Love," "Rain Dance Ballet" and "The Begat," music by Burton Lane and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg.
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 October 1968
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 9 October 1968
Los Angeles premiere: 16 October 1968
Production Date:
began 26 June 1967
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros.--Seven Arts, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 October 1968
Copyright Number:
LP37259
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision, see note
Duration(in mins):
145
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
21684
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Upon arriving in Rainbow Valley, Missitucky, with his daughter Sharon, Irish rascal Finian McLonergan buries a pot of stolen leprechaun gold, mistakenly believing that it will multiply because the ground is near Fort Knox. When the bigoted local senator, Billboard Rawkins, tries to foreclose on popular young Woody Mahoney's tobacco land, Finian pays the balance of Woody's debt and forever endears himself and Sharon to the sharecroppers of the valley. Woody and a fledgling black scientist, Howard, are partners in trying to develop a mint tobacco plant; but, since the leaves of their plants will not burn, Howard is helping to finance their experiments by working as a domestic for the greedy and intolerant Rawkins. Meanwhile, Og, a leprechaun, has been following the McLonergans to America to retrieve the gold; without it he is doomed to become a mortal. Eventually geologists detect the presence of Og's gold in the valley, and Rawkins renews his bid to seize Woody's land. Unaware that the pot of gold carries with it three magic wishes, Sharon wishes that Rawkins could turn black so that he would better understand the plight of the sharecroppers. When Rawkins actually does turn black, Sharon is arrested as she is about to marry Woody and sentenced to be burned as a witch. To save her, Og, who alone knows the secret of the gold pot, wishes Rawkins white again. Og, now almost totally mortal, falls in love with Woody's mute sister, Susan the Silent, and he uses the last wish to give her the power of speech. As he becomes human and the gold turns to dross, the barn fire intended for Sharon spreads to Woody's experimental laboratory ... +


Upon arriving in Rainbow Valley, Missitucky, with his daughter Sharon, Irish rascal Finian McLonergan buries a pot of stolen leprechaun gold, mistakenly believing that it will multiply because the ground is near Fort Knox. When the bigoted local senator, Billboard Rawkins, tries to foreclose on popular young Woody Mahoney's tobacco land, Finian pays the balance of Woody's debt and forever endears himself and Sharon to the sharecroppers of the valley. Woody and a fledgling black scientist, Howard, are partners in trying to develop a mint tobacco plant; but, since the leaves of their plants will not burn, Howard is helping to finance their experiments by working as a domestic for the greedy and intolerant Rawkins. Meanwhile, Og, a leprechaun, has been following the McLonergans to America to retrieve the gold; without it he is doomed to become a mortal. Eventually geologists detect the presence of Og's gold in the valley, and Rawkins renews his bid to seize Woody's land. Unaware that the pot of gold carries with it three magic wishes, Sharon wishes that Rawkins could turn black so that he would better understand the plight of the sharecroppers. When Rawkins actually does turn black, Sharon is arrested as she is about to marry Woody and sentenced to be burned as a witch. To save her, Og, who alone knows the secret of the gold pot, wishes Rawkins white again. Og, now almost totally mortal, falls in love with Woody's mute sister, Susan the Silent, and he uses the last wish to give her the power of speech. As he becomes human and the gold turns to dross, the barn fire intended for Sharon spreads to Woody's experimental laboratory and proves that the mint tobacco leaves will actually burn. Woody and Sharon are then happily wed, and the optimistic Finian leaves the valley to seek his fortune elsewhere. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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