The 1962 version of State Fair updates the Jeanne Crain 1945 edition in some of the details, but the story is essentially the same. We still have the small town Frake family preparing for the annual state fair. Daughter Margy still longs for a big love, not content to marry the boy she is expected to.
Then there is son Wayne who sows some oats, but makes a quick recovery when he returns home. Mom Melissa still wants to win a food ribbon, and Dad Abel only wants his pride and joy, Blue Boy, to bring home the top swine crown.
While I am not a great fan of the ’45 edition, I actually feel that this updated movie lacks the same charm in the opening. This version begins with a roadster speeding down the country road. It just does not have that simple, homespun appeal that was there when Percy Kilbride was shown driving down the road in the ’45 film.
This movie stars Pat Boone as Wayne Frake, the wild oats sower. He has a great time with the girl from the big city, Emily, played by Ann-Margret. Now there is nothing country about Ann in this movie. She is pure sex kitten, which her song and dance numbers prove. She turns in a solid performance in this first film role (the movie was filmed before Pocketful of Miracles, but not released until after that movie, so it tends to get credit for being her first role instead of State Fair).
I have to admit it feels odd watch Boone with Ann-Margret. It is not a pairing I ever would have thought of, but it does work.
Playing Crain’s role of Margy Frake is Pamela Tiffin. Like Crain, Tiffin’s voice is dubbed for the songs, and I find that to be very distracting. Tiffin is paired with Bobby Darin, who plays the more worldly Jerry Dundee. Like his ’45 counterpart, Dana Andrews, Darin falls for the young woman and goes after her in the end. The character of Jerry really appeared more unlikeable to me in this version, though.
Tom Ewell was ever so amusing as Abel Frake, especially when singing his love song to Blue Boy. Now that is worth watching the movie for.
Finally, Alice Faye turned in a nice performance as Melissa Frake, a role she came out of retirement to play. I really enjoyed watching her, much more than Tiffin, to be honest.
So, it was an okay musical. Boone is a great singer, and I enjoyed listening to him. Ann-Margret sizzled per normal, but I do wish a bit more of that slow country charm had found its way into the movie.\