The One Time Fair
It's the Iowa State Fair and the Frake family are all going like they always do. For Mum Frake (Fay Bainter) her big concern is whether she made the right decision to add brandy to the mincemeat she is entering whilst her husband (Charles Winninger) is concerned about his boar, Blueboy, as he doesn't seem himself. Their daughter Margy (Jeanne Crain) hasn't been herself for some time as she has become disenchanted with her boyfriend Harry (Phil Brown) and at the fair finds herself being charmed by travelling reporter Pat Gilbert (Dana Andrews) who she meets on a ride. Margy isn't the only one to meet someone as her brother Wayne (Dick Haymes), whose girlfriend Eleanor (Jane Nigh) couldn't make it, finds himself becoming enamoured with flame haired singer Emily Edwards (Vivian Blaine). The trouble is that when the fair is over the Frake family will be returning to their backwater farm whilst both Pat and Eleanor will be back on their travels.
On my journey through the fabulous archive of movies I have come to understand one thing; a movie may work the first time you watch it but on subsequent viewings it starts to unravel. That may sound like I am stating the obvious but the number of times I have mentioned how a movie doesn't hold up very well the second time around only to be reprimanded by those who have watched it once and have rose tinted nostalgic memories of it. So having said that I am well prepared for what may come when I say that "State Fair" is a watch once movie but don't watch it again.
Now the first time you watch it there is something fun about this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical from the romantically bubbly musical numbers to the humour of Mr. Frake sneaking brandy into the mincemeat and then Mrs. Frake doing the same. There is also the comedy of Bluebell being love struck as well as the humour of the judges as they try sour pickles. I could go on because the first time around "State Fair" puts a smile on your face and leaves you in pain from a whole lot of smiling. The trouble is that when you watch it again that joy is replaced by bemusement and so much of the movie is incredibly cheesy with really just the music and songs still holding up. Having said that the old school performances of all the cast is entertaining. Jeanne Crain giving love struck is a lot of fun as is Charles Winninger as the wily Mr. Frake.
What this all boils down to is that "State Fair" isn't by any means a bad musical and it certainly put a big smile on my face when I first watched it whilst giving me some enjoyable memories. But it doesn't stand up to a second watching as it is then it starts to become cheesy which is a shame.