(out of 5)
When Twentieth Century-Fox decided to remake their ever-popular Will Rogers comedy of 1933 for audiences of the forties, their decision to make it a musical brought them to the doorstep of musical team Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, who had just revitalized the American musical on Broadway with their first major collaboration, Oklahoma. Fox hired the team to write the entire score of State Fair directly for the screen (the only time the two ever did so), and the result was a fairly good film with a foolproof musical roster. A small town family that features two good-ole-traditional parents (Charles Winninger, Fay Bainter), a lovestruck daughter (Jeanne Crain) and a swoony son (Dick Haymes) travel together to the capital city State Fair in order to compete in many of the top competitions, from pie baking to prize pigs. Of course, the youngsters find love (with Dana Andrews and Vivian Blaine). It’s all very delightful and carefree, but when those actors open their mouths to sing (most of them dubbed), the lovely Rodgers and Hammerstein score really resonates: the duo ended up winning an Academy Award for the film’s beautiful theme, ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’. The film was remade again (as a musical) in the sixties with Ann-Margret.
Twentieth Century Fox
Directed by Walter Lang
Cinematography by Leon Shamroy
Produced by William Perlberg
Costume Design by Rene Hubert
Film Editing by J. Watson Webb Jr.
Best Music (Song) (“It Might As Well Be Spring”, music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II)
Best Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture) (Alfred Newman, Charles Henderson)