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State Fair

(1933 b 97')

En: 6 Ed: 6)

Based on Philip Strong’s novel, a rural family spends a week at the annual state fair with the parents entering their accomplishments for prizes and the son and daughter finding brief romances.

            Abel Frake (Will Rogers) is obsessed with his boar Blue Boy and makes a bet with his friend the storekeeper (Frank Craven) that he will win the prize and that nothing bad will happen to them at the fair this year. His wife Melissa Frake (Louise Dresser) is preparing her pickles and mince pie for the state contests. Abel says the recipe calls for brandy, but she has not put any in. While she is not there he adds the brandy. Later she pours the rest of the bottle into the mince pie.

            Their daughter Margy Frake (Janet Gaynor) has been the girlfriend of Harry Ware (Frank Melton) for years, but he is too busy with his milk to go to the fair.

            Her brother Wayne Frake (Norman Foster) has been practicing for the ring toss by tossing his mother’s sewing rings in the barn.

            The family of four packs up early and drives their truck with Blue Boy in the back to the state fair where people have set up tents to camp for a week.

            Wayne goes to the ring toss booth where the hoop toss barker (Victor Jory) puts out three $1 bills to entice customers. Wayne quickly wins these in three free tosses and then proceeds to win other prizes with every toss. When he denigrates the prizes, the barker gets angry and tries to get him to leave. Pretty Emily Joyce (Sally Eilers) defends Wayne and says her father is a police inspector. This is enough to intimidate the barker and lure Wayne to spend time with her. Later he watches her perform as a trapeze artist. She invites him to her place, and he spends several evenings with her. However, she lives for the moment and does not expect to see him again after the fair is over.

            Marge meets the reporter Pat Gilbert (Lew Ayres) on the roller coaster ride and falls in love with him. They spend time together every day.

            Melissa finds her pickles and mince pie in competition with Mrs. Metcalfe, but Melissa wins both contests.

            Abel is having more trouble with Blue Boy who is lying down. Abel cajoles the huge pig who comes alive when another boar is nearby. Blue Boy wins the grand prize.

            On the last night Pat tells Marge that he may not see her again and says what happens that night depends on her. She runs away, and he goes off in the opposite direction. After the family returns to the their farm, Marge gets  call from Pat and runs in the rain to meet him.

            This family story depicts the most important annual event in the lives of this farming family who do not have very many social opportunities the rest of the year. They live fairly simple lives close to plants and animals, working hard, and enjoying the fruits of the labors. They are looking for enduring relationships, but the annual fair offers a special week when very exciting things happen to them.

Copyright © 2012 by Sanderson Beck

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