Spent a lazy Sunday afternoon watching a couple of musical films on DVD - both alas rather seriously flawed by casting mistakes. I'd forgotten that, of all people, Francis Ford Coppola directed Finian's Rainbow. This has never been a favourite of mine, though it has a couple of good numbers by Burton Lane -'How are thing in Glocca Morra' and 'When I'm not near the girl I love', which got a Tony award for David Wayne as Og.. Alas, Og is played in the film by Tommy Steele, unutterably winsome - butter could not only melt in his mouth but covers him from head to foot. Not keen on Miss Clark either; but nice to see that Fred Astaire, nearing the end of his career, could still twinkle a toe or two. Actually the whole show seems very clunky now; what on earth persuaded Coppola to direct it, I wonder?
The other film was of Hello, Dolly!, with that wonderful score by the great Jerry Herman - remarkable how it was dismisssed by some critics as being without any tunes! Gene Kelly's direction, as one might expect, produces excellent dance numbers, and he deals with the crows scenes very adeptly (striking opening to the film, too). But oh dear, Miss Streisand is almost a caricature of herself in the title role - cast no doubt because Carol Channing wasn't a big enough international star. Channing was stunning in the first spage production: it's a real ragedy she didn't get the screen part. I remember the critic Walter Kerr on her: 'Channing opens wide her big-as-millstone eyes, spreads her white-gloved arms in ecstatic abandon, trots out on a circular runway that surrounds the orchestra, and proceeds to dance rings around the conductor . . . With hair like orange sea foam, a contralto like a horse's neighing, and a confidential swagger, [she is] a musical comedy performer with all the blowzy glamor of the girls on the sheet music of 1916.' But Even dear Dora Bryant, in the London stage production, was a great deal better than the squeaking, squealing, gesticulating over-the-top-in-the-wrong-way Miss Streisand.The film well worth watching for the immortal Walter Matteau, however, and interesting to see Michael Crawford, with little tatters of his best-known TV character still sticking to him, and little sign that within a few years he was to play a sensational Phantom in the first production of Mr Lloyd Webber's little piece. And however much the producers paid Satchmo for his tiny appearnce, it wasn't too much.