Twentieth Century-Fox couldn't make a film version of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's Oklahoma in 1945--that particular Broadway musical would remain a "hot ticket" until the end of the decade--so the studio did the next best thing by hiring Rodgers & Hammerstein to pen the score for the Technicolorful State Fair. Fox had previously made a non-singing movie of Philip Stong's novel in 1933, with Janet Gaynor and Will Rogers in the leads. The musical remake downplayed the older characters in favor of the younger members of the cast. Set during the annual Iowa State Fair, the story concentrates on the Frakes family: father Charles Winninger, mother Fay Bainter, and grown-up children Jeanne Crain and Dick Haymes. Each has his or her own reason for attending the fair: Winninger intends to win the "prize hog" ribbon, Bainter hopes to defeat her longtime snooty rival in the food contest (she wins when the judges get schnockered on the alcohol in her entry), Crain falls in love with fast-talking journalist Dana Andrews, and Haymes woos footloose and fancy-free vocalist Vivian Blaine. Musical highlights include the Oscar-winning "It Might as Well be Spring," "It's a Grand Night for Singing," and the title number. To avoid confusion with the 1962 remake, the 1945 State Fair was for many years retitled It Happened One Summer for TV showings.
by Hal Erickson synopsis