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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » State Fair (Blu-ray)
State Fair (Blu-ray)
Twilight Time // Unrated // July 18, 2017 // Region Free
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at ]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted October 8, 2017 | E-mail the Author
C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
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Highly Recommended
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State Fair 1962 Musical Twilight Time Blu-ray Review State Fair (1962) is a musical remake of the classic film musical version by the beloved music team of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Based on the novel written by Philip Strong, State Fair is a iconic story which has been adapted numerous times throughout the years. The film shifts the location of the story to Texas from the original Iowa setting established in the 1945 version: bringing a new range of possibilities for the musical stylistically. The film is produced by Charles Brackett (The Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard).

In the great state of Texas during the 1960's the State Fair is a big event that a lot of people look forward to participating in each year. It's a special event and time for family gatherings with so many attractions, contests, and fun rides for folks to check out. The festivities are enormous at this state fair and each member of the family has something to look forward to.

The young Wayne Frake (Pat Boone) is a race-car driver with lots of energy and room for excitement. He meets the beautiful Emily Porter (Ann-Margret) and the two fall madly in love with each other (though it might not be to last). Emily is a stage dancer who sings and dances with great skill. The two hit it off quickly and are enamored with one another.

Meanwhile, Wayne's younger teenage sister Margy Frake (Pamela Tiffin) meets and falls for womanizer Jerry Dundee (Bobby Darin), a news-reporter who wishes to settle down.  Jerry begins to date Margy over the course of the story. The two unexpectedly begin a serious romance.

Abel Frake (Tom Ewell), who is the uncle of Wayne and Margy, participates in the state fair by entering a competition with his hog. He has a special connection with his hog. He even sings a little song about it (though some of the other attendees find that a little odd).

Wayne and Margy's mother, Melissa Frake (Alice Faye), enters the fair cooking competition with a dish that is seemingly helped by a little bourbon. She wins the contest with little great competition (the scene involving the judge's is laugh-out-loud funny and one of the film's most delightful scenes). During the course of the story she also happens to offer up some truly terrible dating advice to her daughter (with the absolutely cringe-worthy song "Never Say No to a Man") while saying horrible things about her son's love interest - whom she refers to as "trash").

The film is greatly enhanced by the ensemble cast. The group of performers are truly fantastic in their respective roles. Pat Boone (also in Twilight Time's excellent April Love) is a true standout with great charisma throughout the film. Ann-Margret is absolutely terrific as well and gives the film some of its best musical numbers. Her song and dance routines are breathtaking.

The music score is by Alfred Newman (The King and I, City Lights). Newman worked on the film as its conductor and music supervisor. The added music by Newman does a great job of adding energy and excitement to the film.

As for the songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, some of the original standouts are featured with new renditions: "It Might as Well Be Spring" and "That's for Me" are great pieces which add to the musical's charms. There are several new songs as well. As Hammerstein passed away prior to the production of this version of State Fair, the new songs are solely by Rodgers (music and lyrics)."The Little Things In Texas" and "More Than Just a Friend" are terrific new numbers that add some charm to this version of the musical. Other new numbers, most especially "Never Say No to a Man" simply detract from the film.

 The film has excellent art direction by Walter M. Simonds (Marty, The Lost World) and Jack Martin Smith (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Batman). The film has great production aesthetics with the state fair itself being a truly impressive sight to behold. From the exorbitant rides to everything-in-between, the fair looks impressive through the art and production design efforts.

The cinematography by William C. Mellor (Giant, A Place in the Sun) is easily one of the film's greatest strengths. Mellor (who was the frequent collaborator of director George Stevens) was a genius of his medium. This version of State Fair looks absolutely breathtaking because of his gifts as a cinematographer. From the beautiful vistas of the outdoors at the fair to the quiet, contemplative night-time photography, Mellor gives his best to the production.

The costume designs by Marjorie Best (Rio Bravo, Giant) are superb throughout. There are great costumes for each character. Pamela Tiffin and Ann-Margret wear beautiful dresses while Pat Boone and Bobby Darin are both dressed with sophistication.

The story was adapted by Oscar Hammerstein II (Show Boat), Paul Green (State Fair - 1933), and Sonya Levien (Oklahoma!) while the screenplay was written by Richard L. Breen (Niagara, A Foreign Affair). For the most part, Breen has done an excellent job of crafting a new State Fair script which keeps enough in common with the previous versions while simultaneously adding some uniqueness with the Texas setting and sensibilities. It's a good compliment to the music and helps the film succeed.

Directed by José Ferrer (I Accuse!, The Great Man), who is perhaps better known as a famous actor, State Fair is a generally fun musical with mostly great musical numbers and excellent performances from the ensemble cast. A few numbers are a bit weaker than the original film musical (and one, the "Never Say No to a Man" number, is jarring), the majority of the film holds up as a musical that stands well alongside the 1945 version. This is an entertaining film which makes the wise decision of not being a direct duplicate of the original: offering enough "newness" to the experience to make it feel more worthwhile for audiences. 

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Presented in 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded high definition, State Fair (1962) arrives on Blu-ray (for the first time) with a stunning transfer which preserves the CinemaScope aspect ratio. The film is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen and it looks quite remarkable on this new edition. This is a downright beautiful transfer of the film with only occasional minor specks of dirt on the otherwise fine quality print. Colors are often vibrant (beautiful and radiant). The film looks surprisingly sharp for its age. It's in excellent condition and the cinematography by William C. Mellor is well preserved.

Audio:   

State Fair is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 surround presentation. This is a strong sound design which focuses primarily on the music sequences but brings them to life with great clarity and vibrancy. From song and dance numbers to quieter, more intimate songs, the audio is impressive with strong fidelity and depth. A DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo presentation has also been provided.

An optional Isolated Music track is available for those who wish to experience the film with just the songs. This edition includes English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Extras:

This release includes a booklet featuring an essay on the film written by Twilight Time writer Julie Kirgo.

On disc supplements include the following:

Audio Commentary featuring actor Pat Boone

From Page to Screen to Stage (SD, 30 min.) is a surprisingly in-depth documentary piece about the multitude of productions of State Fair across the years. The documentary features Rodgers and Hammerstein historians and others as they discuss the process of State Fair going from a novel to an early cinema hit, to the acclaimed 1945 musical film version, to the 1962 remake (herein reviewed) and later to a stage-play Broadway production. The different stylistic aspects of each versions are discussed and dissected with great detail and discussion.

State Fair TV Series Pilot (HD, 50 min.) is an unaired television pilot for a TV series based on the State Fair intellectual property. It's about as far removed from the musical film versions as one might imagine: different characters, scenarios, and little to connect it to the films. Though there's a "state fair" briefly featured in the episode, one gets the feeling it would have been better off with a different title: like: Nashville Dreams.

The pilot differs a great deal from the type of storyline focused on with the films. In this series, a young singer-songwriter named Wayne Bryant (Mitch Vogel) befriends (and begins a romance with) fellow classmate Bobbie Jean Shaw (Linda Purl) who is looking to break into music and make a name for herself within the Nashville scene. The episode explores the process of their collaboration on making a song together while simultaneously exploring the family dynamic's established within the Bryant family.

Original Theatrical Trailer #1 and #2 (SD)

Final Thoughts:

State Fair is a fun, charming, and memorable musical in this 1962 rendition. Though the film is not without some flaws, it's charm outweighs the more disappointing aspects of the production. The film features excellent performances (most especially by Pat Boone and Ann-Margret) and is worth seeking out for fans of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.

Twilight Time's Limited Edition Blu-ray release features excellent PQ/AQ and a nice assortment of extras which make this release worthwhile.

Highly Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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