Rodgers and Hammerstein's only score written expressly for the screen highlights this delightful film about an Iowa family's adventures at the fair. Jeanne Crain, Dana Andrews and Dick Haymes star.
The principal bonus on the two-DVD set is a whopper, the complete 1962 version of State Fair
. Enjoyable but less charming than the 1945 film, it has the same basic plot, except that it takes place in 1960s Texas and with its pop-icon cast feels more like an Elvis musical. Alice Faye, who was originally considered for the Jeanne Crain role in 1945, plays opposite Tom Ewell as the parents who take their family to the fair. Pat Boone takes his race car and ends up romancing the hot dancer Ann-Margaret, while the dull Pamela Tiffin is wooed by the annoying Bobby Darin. Bluebell the prize hog is still here, as are the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs such as "It Might as Well Be Spring" and "It's a Grand Night for Singing." Following Oscar Hammerstein's death, Richard Rodgers wrote the music and lyrics for a handful of new, undistinguished songs. On the DVD, Boone recorded a commentary track in which he discusses his ambition to be a "singing Mr. America" and how he had to convince his wife and daughter that there was nothing to the scene he filmed topless with Margaret. Boone speaks only for short stretches, and the DVD menu offers the unusual disclaimer that the commentary track has "extended gaps of silence." On the original film, film historian Richard Barrios and Tom Briggs, who cowrote the 1996 Broadway-musical version, do a commentary track in which they discuss trivia about the film as well as the 1933 original, the 1962 remake, and the stage version. Some of that information is repeated in the "From Page to Screen to Stage" featurette. There's also a black-and-white performance by Mary Martin of "It Might as Well Be Spring" and a pilot for a potential TV series. It's a sort-of musical in that Mitch Vogel goes to the fair to enter a country & western Young Stars of Tomorrow competition, but it's lackluster at best. --David Horiuchi