State Fair (1945)

Genres - Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Americana, Musical Comedy, Musical Romance  |   Release Date - Aug 29, 1945 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Hans J. Wollstein

20th Century Fox knew how to use Technicolor better than anyone else, and the Iowa sky in State Fair is breathtakingly blue -- almost as breathtaking, in fact, as Vivian Blaine's crimson tresses. But the vibrant color scheme isn't the only ingredient that separates the Fox musical tradition from, say, MGM's. Could anyone imagine the overly exuberant Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney take the place of such pleasantly corn-fed folks as State Fair's Jeanne Crain and Dick Haymes? Crain and Haymes may not possess the sock-it-to-them gusto that members of the Arthur Freed unit over at Metro demonstrated but they also don't wear out their welcome quite so soon. Granted, Miss Crain's singing voice needed dubbing (by Louanne Hogan) and Haymes never truly made it to stardom, but they both fit State Fair to the proverbial "T." Nothing much happens here, you see; nothing much, or so the screenplay seems to imply, ever happens in "I-o-way" and that is the musical's ultimate charm. Decent folks struggling with everyday problems of pride and romance and not a true villain in sight, unless you count the overly confident Mrs. Metcalfe (Josephine Whittell), whose prize mincemeat loses to Mrs. Frake's (Fay Bainter) brandy-fortified ditto. Almost always choosing purebred Americana over showbiz sophistication, 20th Century Fox knew well how to spin such a negligible yarn, and the tuneful Rodgers & Hammerstein score simply clinches the deal.