Margy Frake (1945-Jeanne Crain – Meet Me in St. Louis, Cheaper By The Dozen and 1962-Pamela Tiffin – star of many Italian films), a young farm girl from small town Iowa/Texas, is bored with her life and yearns for more. She is dating a young man named Harry Ware (1945-Phil Brown – Chaplin, Superman and 1962-David Brandon – All Hands on Deck), who is madly in love with Margy; but she wants someone more exciting. Margy is really looking forward to going to the state fair with her family. Margy's brother Wayne (1945-Dick Haymes – Mutiny on the Bounty and 1962-Pat Boone – The Greatest Story Ever Told)) is dating a girl named Eleanor (1945-Jane Nigh – Give My Regards to Broadway) and is upset when she tells him she cannot go to the fair. Mr. Abel Frake (1945-Charles Winninger – Showboat and 1962-Tom Ewell – The Seven year Itch, Adam's Rib) is excited as he is showing his prize pig, Blue Boy, at the fair and Mrs. Elizabeth Frake (1945-Fay Bainter – Jezebel, Our Town and 1962-Alice Faye – The Gang's All Here, Tin Pan Alley) is entering her sour pickles and mincemeat into competition. At the fair, Margy meets Pat Gilbert/Jerry Dundee (1945-Dana Andrews – Laura, The Frogmen and 1962-Bobby Darin – Heller in Pink Tights), a journalist, who captures her heart and she rethinks her relationship with Harry. Wayne also meets singer Emily Edwards/Emily Porter (1945-Vivian Blaine – Guys and Dolls and 1962-Ann-Margaret – Viva Las Vegas, Tommy) and they fall in love as well. The fair turns out to be just what each member of the family needed, but why then do Margy and Wayne cry all the way home?
Anytime you see the names Rogers and Hammerstein (The King and I, South Pacific) associated with a film or a musical you know that it is going to be chock full of great songs and State Fair is no exception. Fox has decided to release these two versions of State Fair in one package. It seems like a good idea except for the fact that one version is much better than the other. The 1945 version has all the innocence and believability that this type of story requires. Walter Lang (Can-Can, There's No Business Like Show Business) has cast the perfect people for all the roles and captures the musical part of the film beautifully. The cinematography and colour are both excellent in this version and match the liveliness of the songs. It is a perfect depiction of the America we will never see again – innocent, simple, wholesome, and family oriented. Jose Ferrer's (Return to Peyton Place) version is still cute but a little overdone in comparison to the 1945 version. It is a 'modernized' version in an effort to attract young people to the movie musical. Ferrer places the emphasis on the actors instead of on the beautiful Rogers and Hammerstein songs; maybe this is because he himself was primarily an actor. Pat Boone is hopelessly miscast as a country boy, but Ann-Margaret's performance is great. This version of the film obviously had a bigger budget and that really shows itself during the musical numbers. Despite this, the brilliance of the Rogers and Hammerstein music and lyrics still manages to come through.
Disc One (1945 version):
-From page, to screen, to stage: State Fair
-Sing along Karaoke subtitles
-Songs only chapter list
Disc Two (1962 version):
-Vintage stage excerpt from 1954
-Television tribute to Rogers & Hammerstein
-Rare 'State Fair' television pilot