This film probably should never have been made. Big, old-fashioned musicals were really on their way out. The show harked back from 1947 and was seriously dated, somehow mixing the story of a leprechaun and his gold with race relations in the mountains. For some reason novice Francis Ford Coppola was chosen to direct. He insisted this totally insignificant bit of fluff be made more “realistic,” shooting most of it outdoors. It is Fred Astaire’s last musical film. His previous one was Silk Stockings, where he was as good as he had always been, but ten years later at age sixty-nine, while he could still hoof it, some creakiness had begun to show. He was not a happy camper, less than thrilled at the silly idea of tap-dancing on dirt, and worried about singing with co-star Petula Clark. She, in turn, was worried about dancing with him. Who wouldn’t be? It was not a happy set.
Add in the unfortunate (to me) presence of my least favorite musical film star of the day, Tommy Steele, and there was very little for me to like. For some reason I just find Steele’s relentless happy mugging and bursting energy in this one and Half a Sixpence so tiresome I almost have to look away. I was stunned, stunned, I tell you, to just now discover that he was England’s first rock and roll teen idol, the British answer to Elvis Presley!