Cast & Crew
As his family prepares to leave the small town of Brunswick, Iowa to spend the week at the state fair, farmer Abel Frake dotes over his Hampshire boar, Blue Boy, and wagers cynical storekeeper Fred Cramer five dollars that the hog will win first prize, that everyone in the family will have a good time and nothing bad will happen, and that they will return home safe. After Abel secretly adds a dose of apple brandy to his wife Melissa's mincemeat preparation, which she plans to place in competition at the fair, Melissa, worried that the mincemeat lacks something, adds the remainder of the bottle, against her principles, when no one else is around. Their daughter Margy, who is angry that her beau since childhood, Harry Ware, is too occupied with his milk business to accompany them to the fair, taunts her placid brother Wayne that his girl Eleanor will choose a more exciting "college fella" over him. At the fair, Abel sulks because Blue Boy acts listless. At a "hoop la" stand, Wayne pitches rings perfectly to the annoyance of the barker and meets Emily Joyce, a trapeze artist. Margy, left alone by Wayne, meets newspaper reporter Pat Gilbert on a roller coaster. The next day, Blue Boy perks up when Esmeralda, a redheaded sow, passes by. Margy and Pat decide that rather than become involved romantically, they'll see the fair as friends and part as friends. Melissa wins the pickle and mincemeat contests after Pat secretly speaks to one of the judges, who later suffers from having eaten too much of the mincemeat. After watching harness races, Margy and Pat walk through the woods and confess their love for each other. Meanwhile, Emily seduces a willing Wayne. At the hog competition, Blue Boy becomes listless again, but he revives upon seeing Esmeralda and wins first prize. On the last night, Wayne, who has spent the previous three nights with Emily and wants to marry her, is greatly disappointed when Emily, who reluctantly has grown to love him, says that they will never see each other again. Pat, who confesses his past indiscretions to Margy, wants to marry her, but she hesitates because she thinks he will not be happy with one woman and with the loss of adventure that comes with marriage, and that she can live a useful, if less than romantic, life with Harry in Brunswick. On the drive home, Margy cries and Wayne sulks. At home, Wayne breaks out of his depression and visits Eleanor. When Fred Cramer sees Margy brooding, he questions whether she enjoyed the fair. Just then, Pat calls from nearby, and Abel wins his bet as Margy excitedly dashes past Harry and Cramer to meet Pat and embrace him.
Dike Of Rosedale
Bell Boy, A Hog
R. W. Bischoff
E. W. Butcher
Louis De Francesco
Louis De Francesco
Charles E. Mccarthy
R. C. Moore
A. L. Von Kirbach
Best Writing, Screenplay
State Fair (1933)
Stong based his first hit novel on his own childhood growing up in Pittsburg, Iowa, where his father ran a general store. Fox quickly bought the rights for $15,000 and even offered him the chance to pen the film adaptation. Instead, it was written by Sonya Levien, who already had written such Janet Gaynor vehicles as Daddy Long Legs and Delicious (both 1931), and playwright Paul Green, known for such rural dramas as his Pulitzer Prize-winning In Abraham's Bosom and The House of Connelly. Their backgrounds came in handy when the studio cast their top female star, Gaynor (number two on the exhibitors' list of top box office stars for 1932), and homespun humorist Will Rogers, whose star at the studio had been steadily rising since the coming of sound. The writers crafted a tale perfectly suited for both, with daughter Gaynor falling for slick newspaperman Lew Ayres, while father Rogers hopes to lead his 900-pound hog to a blue ribbon. Rounding out the family are Louise Dresser as the mother who competes in the mincemeat competition with the help of a generous dose of apple brandy and Norman Foster as the son who falls for a beautiful trapeze artist (Sally Eilers).
Director Henry King, an expert at Americana behind such classics as Tol'able David (1921) and The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926), attended the 1932 State Fair and Exposition in Des Moines, IA, to film background footage. That raised some problems when the company in charge of the carnival rides demanded $5,000 from Fox for the rights to use shots of the midway. Eventually, the studio paid them $3,500 and agreed to include two shots of the company's complete name and trademark. The Frake family farm was actually a farm in Corona, CA, where the crew shot exteriors to match interiors shot on the Fox lot. They left the owners all the improvements they made for the film, including fresh paint on the barn, a white picket fence and new chicken houses.
Blue Boy, Rogers's hog in the film, was played by the grand champion boar from the actual Iowa State Fair, Dike of Rosedale. King warned his star that the animal was temperamental, so he should steal clear of it whenever possible, but Rogers claimed "I've always been on friendly terms with hogs. Me and him'll get along all right." When King had Rogers called for his first scene with Blue Boy, they couldn't find the actor in his dressing room or his usual hang out - his car. They found him fast asleep in Blue Boy's pen, with his head resting against the hog's side. After filming ended, Rogers was offered the chance to buy the hog, presumably to slaughter. He demurred, saying, "I wouldn't feel right eatin' a fellow actor."
State Fair was the first Fox film to open at the prestigious Radio City Music Hall and brought in $1.5 million at the box office, a big figure at that time and enough to earn it a place among the year's box office top ten. It was warmly received by critics, who praised Rogers for playing a character different from his stage and screen image. In addition to its two Oscar® nominations (the year's Best Picture award went to Fox's Cavalcade, while Best Adapted Screenplay went to RKO's Little Women) the film made the National Board of Review and Film Daily ten-best lists and placed fourth on the New York Times's list. The year of its release, Rogers rose to number two box office star (he had been number nine the year before), behind Marie Dressler and just ahead of Gaynor. He would go on to star in more diverse roles until his death in a plane crash in 1935.
Ultimately, the film's popularity cost it a scene. State Fair had been made a year before the institution of strict Production Code enforcement in 1934. Although the writers had cut the novel's depiction of a sexual affair between the daughter and the reporter, they had kept the son's seduction by the trapeze artist. Moralists were particularly outraged by a scene in which Foster and Eiler's dialogue is heard off-screen while the camera reveals a rumpled bed and a negligee on the floor. Making the scene especially offensive was its inclusion in a film starring Will Rogers, whose star image usually guaranteed unobjectionable films. When Fox re-issued State Fair in 1935, the film industry's self-governing board insisted the scene be removed. The cut has never been restored.
Producer: Winfield R. Sheehan
Director: Henry King
Screenplay: Sonya Levien, Paul Green
Based on the novel by Philip Stong Cinematography: Hal Mohr
Art Direction: Duncan Cramer
Score: Louis De Francesco
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), Hobart Cavanaugh (Professor Fred Coin).
by Frank Miller
Will Rogers: His Life and Times, Richard M. Ketchum
State Fair (1933)
Sources disagree concerning the running time. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, author Phil Stong was paid $15,000 for the motion picture rights to his novel and was hired by Fox to do an adaptation and treatment. Director Henry King went to the 1932 Iowa State Fair and Exposition in Des Moines with Stong and a camera crew at the invitation of the fair and filmed background material there. International Photographer notes that Joe Valentine and Ed Hammeras photographed background plates, atmospheric shots and race sequences at the fair and used the new Eastman Grayback Background Negative film stock. (The rest of the production was shot an Eastman Supersensitive Negative stock and used two cameras wherever possible, according to International Photographer). Fox purchased three hogs from the fair, including the grand champion, Dike of Rosedale, who was cast as "Blue Boy." Subsequent to the filming, the hogs were given to the California State school system in a presentation by Will Rogers. Blue Boy died in January 1934. Beckmann and Gerety's World Best Shows, of Lincoln, Nebraska, purveyors of the fair's midway, demanded $5,000 for the right of Fox to use any of the footage that King and his crew shot of the midway. Although the Fox legal department offered them $500 and then threatened not to use the footage, the studio eventually agreed to pay Beckmann and Gerety $3,500 and to use two shots in the film that show their complete name and trademark.
A Hollywood Reporter news item states that Spencer Tracy was originally cast in the lead, but that he left the film to replace Charles Farrell in Face in the Sky. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Lew Ayres was borrowed from Universal. Scenes of the Frake farm were shot at the farm of I. V. Ashcroft near Corona, CA. According to a news item, Fox persuaded Ashcroft to let the company film there by agreeing to paint his farmhouse, put in several hundred feet of white picket fence, build new chicken houses and plant some shrubs. The loop-the-loop aerial acrobatic stunt performed by "Emily" in the film was provided by Edgar Vess of Los Angeles, who also furnished a man and woman to double for Sally Eilers to perform the stunt and a woman teacher for Eilers.
Letters in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, establish the fact that Jason S. Joy, director of the AMPP's Studio Relations Committee, convinced the producers to change the relationship between Margy and Pat from a sexual encounter, as it was in the novel, to a romance leading to marriage. The relationship between Emily and Wayne was left substantially as it was in the novel. After the film's release, Carl E. Milliken, MPPDA Secretary, wrote in a letter that "we have had more protests against what the preview groups described as, 'the ugly and totally superfluous incident of the son's adventure,' in State Fair, than regarding any other motion picture in the last two years." Milliken surmised that the protests originated because "the [bedroom] scene is presented as being entirely incongruous and unnecessary" and "because the public has grown accustomed to relying upon Will Rogers' pictures to provide unobjectionable humor for the entire family." In 1935, this bedroom scene between Emily and Wayne was cut from all circulating prints in order for Twentieth Century-Fox to receive a certificate of approval from the PCA. In the deleted scene, according to a screen continuity, Emily and Wayne talk offscreen as the bed in which they presumably are lying is shown along with her negligee strewn across a chair. Emily convinces Wayne of the innocence of their affair, and the scene ends as she says to him, "We have been happy and no one is ever sorry when there's a little bit more happiness in the world."
The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture and Writing (Adaptation). It was picked as one of the ten best films of 1933 by the National Board of Review and was fifth in the Film Daily Poll of Critics. The film was reissued by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. on August 7, 1936; only Will Rogers and Janet Gaynor were listed above the title for the reissue. Twentieth Century-Fox remade the film twice as musicals with songs by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II: in 1945 with Jeanne Crain and Dana Andrews, directed by Walter Lang; and in 1962 with Pat Boone, Pamela Tiffin, Bobby Darin, Tom Ewell, Alice Faye and Ann-Margaret, directed by José Ferrer (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70; F6.4688). In 1976, CBS broadcasted a sixty-minute television movie based on the novel and films, which was produced by Frankovich-Self Productions in association with Twentieth Century-Fox Television.