Saturday, July 08, 2006

Finian's Rainbow (1968)

The divine Sarah Reid (or Miss Sarah, as she is known to the younger set) from the Lackawanna County Children's Library, recently told me of a film musical titled Finian's Rainbow whose lyrics literally ask Scranton, Pennsylvanians to beget (to sire, procreate or produce, especially as an effect or outgrowth).

Finian's Rainbow began as a Broadway show that opened in January 1948 and played for nearly 2 years and over 720 performances. Lyrics were written by E.Y. Harburg (1939's The Wizard of Oz) and Fred Saidy (Star-Spangled Rhythm), and the score was written by Burton Lane (On A Clear Day, You Can See Forever, Cafe Society).

The film stars the legendary Fred Astaire (Top Hat, Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn) and songstress Petula Clark (the #1 hit single Downtown); it was directed by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now).

Both the musical and the 1968 film version of Finian's Rainbow tell the story of mysterious Irishman, Finian, and his beautiful daughter Sharon, who arrive one day in a small Southern town of sharecroppers. The town has its own dreamer who thinks that he might be able to put the town on the map by crossing mint with tobacco so that it'll come mentholated. Fianian's journeyed to the town because he's captured a leprechaun's crock of gold and plans to plant it in the ground so it'll grow faster; but Og the leprechaun arrives, bent on retrieving his gold. Meanwhile, the bigoted Judge Hawkins is upset with the tobacco growers because they're not segregated, and plans on taking their land away. And when Sharon yells, "I wish to God you were black so you could know how it feels..." while standing right over the pot of gold, all hell breaks loose as wishes come true.

Near the end of the film, Senator Billboard Rawkins and the Passion Pilgrim Gospellers break out into a song titled The Beget. Scranton is mentioned in the lyric section below:

The Lats and Lithuanians, begat.
Scranton Pennsylvanians, begat.
Strictly vegetarians, begat.
And honorary Aryans, begat.
Startin from Genesis, they begat.
Heroes and menaces, begat.
Fat filibusterers, begat.

To read the complete lyrics to The Beget, as well as the full score of Finian's Rainbow, click here.

The DVD and VHS of Finian's Rainbow are available to borrow from The Lackawanna County Library System; to place a hold, click here. The CD soundtrack of the 1960 Broadway revival of Finian's Rainbow is also available to borrow--a hold can be placed by clicking here.

For more information about the original Broadway musical, visit The Internet Broadway Database.

For more information on the 1968 film version, visit The Internet Movie Database.

Much thanks again to the exquisite Miss Sarah for this reference.