State Fair (1933)

State Fair
State Fair

'State Fair' is a romantic comedy movie directed in 1933 by Henry King and starring Janet Gaynor, Will Rogers, and Lew Ayres. The film was based on the 1932 best selling novel by Phil Stong.

The movie was a financial success for Fox and helped keep the studio in operation during the Depression years. It was chosen a one of the ten best films of 1933 by the National Board of Review and was fifth in the 'Film Daily' poll of critics that year. It received two nominations for Academy Awards, both unsuccessful, one for Best Picture and one for the Screenplay Adaptation.

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Subsequently, two musical versions of 'State Fair' were made, first in 1945 and again in 1962. Many critics consider this to be the best of the three versions as it adheres most strictly to the original novel and because of the wonderful performance by Will Rogers.

The film tells the story of a farming family's visit to the Iowa State Fair. The father brings along his prize hog, Blue Boy, with high hopes of winning the blue ribbon champion hog award. The mother plans to enter her pickles and mincemeat into contests. The two children go off to find adventures and romance.

The cast is first rate. Will Rogers, one of the best-loved actors and personalities in the country plays Abel Frake, the family patriarch and his daughter, Margery, is played by Janet Gaynor, a huge star at the time and veteran of a number of successful silent movies. Louise Dresser (another silent screen veteran) plays Abel's wife and is the ideal contrast to his homespun country hick manner. Future movie director (and husband of Claudette Colbert), Norman Foster plays their son. Janet Gaynor's romantic interest is Pat, played by the dynamic Lew Ayres, still famous from his starring role in 'All Quiet on the Western Front.

A Fox supervisor asked Rogers if he would like to take Blue Boy home, as he would make good eating, but Rogers said, "I just wouldn't feel right eatin' a fellow actor." Later, the hogs were given to the California state school system, presented by Rogers.

'State Fair' shows a gentler side of America. It is a good film, a feel-good film, well written and well acted. The story line is straightforward and Henry King directs with with a light but sure touch. A very good film indeed.

Main Cast

Janet Gaynor ... Margy Frake
Will Rogers ... Abel Frake
Lew Ayres ... Pat Gilbert
Sally Eilers ... Emily Joyce
Norman Foster ... Wayne Frake
Louise Dresser ... Melissa Frake
Frank Craven ... Storekeeper
Victor Jory ... Hoop Toss Barker
Frank Melton ... Harry Ware


Director ... Henry King
Producer ... Winfield Sheehan
Screenplay ... Paul Green,Sonya Levien, from the novel by Phil Stong
Music ... Kenyon Hopkins
Cinematography ... Hal Mohr
Format ... B & W
Production Company ... Fox Film Corp.
Release date ... January 26, 1933
Running time ... 97-99 minutes

Academy Awards

Two Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Picture ... Fox Film Corp.
Best Writing (Adaptation) ... Paul Green,Sonya Levien