State Fair (1945): Fox Remake of the 1933 Hit, Starring Jeanne Crain

In 1945, Fox made a musical version of its 1933 hit State Fair, with Charles Winninger and Fay Bainter in the parts that were originated by Will Rogers and Louise Dresser, then at the height of their popularity.

One of the last truly family entertainments, the story of the Frake family, going to the fair was again remade in 1962, under the helm of Jose Ferrer.

In this film, to appeal to younger audiences, the roles of the elderly couple were scaled down, and instead the stories of the young couples (Jeanne Crain, Dana Andrews, Dick Haymes, and Vivian Blaine) were elevated.

The musical movie was nominated for two Oscars, winning the Song Oscar for “It Might As Well Be Spring,” with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The other Oscar nomination was for the Scoring of a Musical Picture to Charles Henderson and Alfred Newman; the scoring award that year went to Georgie Stoll for the Gene Kelly vehicle, “Anchors Aweigh.”

It’s hard to believe but this was the only nomination of Rodgers, who also did the screenplay for “State Fair,” based on the first film’s adaptation by Paul Green and Sonya Levien, which itself was based on Phil Stong’s popular book. In contrast, Hammerstein had already won Oscars for the Song “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” in “Lady Be Good,” and he was also nominated for other songs.

Future Rodgers and Hammerstein’s collaborations included “Oklahoma! (1955), “Carousel” (1956), “South Pacific” (1957), and, of course, “The Sound of Music,” which swept the 1965 Oscars.

With the exception of the songs, the 1945 version is a weak musical, due to Walter Lang’s pedestrian direction and Crain’s pale performance, though this is the movie that made Crain a star. She would receive an Oscar nomination for a better role in Elia Kazan’s “Pinky,” in 1949. As was the norm at the time, Crain’s singing was dubbed by Louanne Hogan.

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