Sunday, July 3, 2016

State Fair (1945)

Director: Walter Lang
Starring: Jeannie Crain, Dana Andrews, Dick Haymes, Vivian Blaine, Charles Winniger, Fay Bainter, Donald Meek, William Marshall, Frank McHugh, Percy Kilbride, Phil Brown, Harry Morgan

The annual celebrations of the State Fair are here and the Frake family couldn't be more excited. 'Ma' Melissa (Bainter) is hoping her minced meat finally wins 1st prize and 'Pa' Abel (Winniger) is busy preparing his champion pig, Blue Boy. Daughter Margy (Crain) can finally put off the impending misery of country life and possible marriage to an oblivious cow farmer. And son Wayne (Haymes), upset his girlfriend can't join him, turns his attention to revenge on the carny who cheated him last year.

There's delight to be had with this Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, their first and only written directly for the screen, is a predictable and but hugely likeable addition to their repertoire that really delves into the heart of America in the same vein The Grapes of Wrath and Meet Me in St. Louis. Other variations have failed in comparison because at the core we have the musical stylings of two geniuses whose score includes That's for Me, It's a Grand Night For Singing and the Oscar-winning It Might As Well Be Spring.

At the time the two leads were up-and-comers and the elders were national treasures, Winninger previously collaborating on Hammerstein' Showboat, while the likes of Kilbride and Meek bring it an extra touch of class. Andrews, whose not a singer, appears almost at the top of his game following Laura and preceding The Best Years of Our Lives. M*A*S*H's Harry Morgan appears as the deceptive carny. The effects and dialogue may show their age but that doesn't defeat its charm.

4.5/5

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