There’s a reason why there are so many musicals recognizable by merely a line from a song or maybe it’s from a basic title. This Rogers and Hammerstein State Fair musical production is one of them. The premise is basic, but still fun to indulge in. We meet a restless farm girl named Margy Frake (Jeanne Crain), a pretty girl who is basically engaged to a boring man who has plans for a modern, futuristic farm. Meanwhile, Margy dreams of a man she hasn’t met.
About to leave for the Iowa state fair, alongside her family, Margy packs up her prettiest dress for a few days away from home. Her time there is a whirlwind of blue ribbons for her parents, a quest for a little sporting payback for her brother, and for Margy, perhaps the mystery man of her dreams awaits her.
Rogers and Hammerstein State Fair (1945) Film Review
Basically that’s the plot of this 40s musical extravaganza. One of the earlier works of the well-known musical duo known as Rogers and Hammerstein, State Fair is a fun way to spend an evening. It’s not revolutionary in terms of its plot, and like so many in the classic film era, the character arcs and romance just isn’t quite there. Because of these thing, this isn’t anything special by comparison to some of this creative team’s later works (we all know what these are), but as I said already, it is fun.
It’s been years since I watched this film. With all of the advertisements for county and state fairs recently, I was reminded of this one, and decided a re-watch was in order. I’m glad I did because this isn’t only the perfect little end-of-summer film to enjoy, it’s also a fun celebration of simpler times and the people or things that were once (and still should be!) so meaningful.
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Compared to the way stories are written today, and the emotional (sometimes overmuch) wringers characters go through, State Fair has minimal characterization. Every declaration or moment feels a bit over-dramatic. We don’t really know much about anyone (why is Margy really unsettled, but still really attracted to her life?), but this doesn’t stop us from liking them all. It’s also a very unrealistic romance arc, but again, the film is sweet and as such, I enjoyed this for those reminders of simple things and the joy of an uncomplicated life.
The product of an award-winning song, There’s not an overabundance of musical numbers in the way I tend to pin on this genre, but it’s more than enough. From the opening titular tune, to the famous ‘It’s A Grand Night For Singing’ tune, there’s plenty of finger snapping good music. With its colorful backdrop and sense of first love romanticism, State Fair is a fun way to enjoy the last days of summer.
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Photos: 20th Century Fox