State Fair [1945]

"I've got that nice, tired old feeling," says Pa Frake near the end of the gentle, sunny 1945 film, State Fair. The Rodgers and Hammerstein music, commissioned while Oklahoma was still making musical-theater history, feels tired too, like the result of a hastily written score. The state of Iowa just can't seem to inspire the same quality music as its more memorable, southern cousin. Remember that State Fair gem "All I Owe Iowa"? Still, it is R and H, and "It Might as Well Be Spring" is here as well as some other decent ditties. There's a country-mouse feeling as the Frake family journeys to the big city for the annual harvest celebration. Young daughter Margy (Jeanne Crain) has her eye on something more exciting than her bore of a fiancé, while her brother meets a lovely big-band singer with a secret. But the bucolic, Old Farmer's Almanac feel is genuine, and it's most obviously a picture of a bygone era when someone expostulates gleefully, "You're gonna be the wife of a journalist!" Not a "don't miss" but not a dismiss either. --Keith Simanton

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