17 user 9 critic

State Fair (1933)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 10 February 1933 (USA)
An Iowa family finds adventure, love, and heartbreak, when they spend a week at the state fair.


Henry King


Sonya Levien (screenplay), Paul Green (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »




Complete credited 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
Frank Melton ... Harry Ware


The Frake family attend the Iowa State Fair. Father Abel enters his Hampshire boar, Blue Boy, in the hog contents. Mother Melissa enters the mincemeat competition. And their children, Margy and Wayne, find love with newspaper reporter Pat Gilbert and trapeze artist Emily Joyce. But will everyone return home safe and happy or will hearts be broken? Written by L. Hamre

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


FOR THOSE WHO MISSED IT BEFORE! (1937 reissue print ad-all caps) See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Cinematographers Joseph A. Valentine and Edwin Hammeras shot the location footage in Des Moines, IA. See more »


Abel Frake: Wayne's got a girl.
Storekeeper: So did Henry VIII, eight of them, but he always showed up at every state affair with a new one.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Most of the credits appear as posters being put up on billboards by workmen. In the film's final scene, there is a heavy rain, and as it washes away the poster bearing the title "State Fair", we see that it was pasted over another poster that says "The End". See more »

Alternate Versions

The original version had a bedroom scene in which Emily and Wayne are heard talking offscreen with Emily's negligee lying on a chair, suggesting that they were in bed together for illicit sex. This scene was cut in 1935 from all existing prints in order to get an approval certificate from the PCA for a re-release. The scene is not included in the print that the Fox Movie Channel currently broadcasts. See more »


Referenced in Love Is a Roller Coaster: Woman on the Run Revisited (2016) See more »


Shanty or Levee Song
(1933) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Fred Rycroft
Written for the movie and probably played in the score
See more »

User Reviews

Summer Holiday
24 April 2016 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

STATE FAIR (Fox, 1933), directed by Henry King, the original screen adaptation to Phil Stong's popular 1932 novel, stars Janet Gaynor and Will Rogers, the studio's top box-office attractions, for the first and only time. Basically an all-star cast of then familiar named performers as Lew Ayres, Sally Eilers, Norman Foster (in a type of role that makes one think of Henry Fonda) and Louise Dresser (Rogers' frequent co-star) in support, this is one of those rare occasions where the legendary Will Rogers is not the center of attention, allowing other members of the cast to perform their individual scenes at length. While STATE FAIR rightfully belongs to the Academy Award winning Janet Gaynor, it's become noted by film historians solely as a Will Rogers movie.

Opening title: "A State Fair is like life – begins hastily – offers everything – whether you go for sheep and blue ribbons – or shape and blue eyes, and too soon it's over." The story opens at a farm in Brunswick, Iowa, where the Frake family prepare themselves for their annual trip to the State Fair. Abel (Will Rogers) intends on placing his pig, Blue Boy, in a contest while Melissa (Louise Dresser), his wife, works on pickles and mincemeat for the upcoming food tasting competition. Other members of the family include their daughter, Margy (Janet Gaynor), engaged to a man she does not love, Harry Ware (Frank Melton), and son, Wayne (Norman Forster), having just been jilted by his girlfriend, Eleanor, practicing to perfect his hoop tossing method. Before driving off to their journey for a week at the fair, the neighborhood storekeeper (Frank Craven) wages Abel five dollars that the family will return home a week later in bitter disappointment. After camping on the State Fair grounds, Wayne gets even with a barker (Victor Jory) who made a fool of him the previous year cheating him out of his $8, soon to find romance with Emily Joyce (Sally Eilers), a trapeze artist who introduced herself to him as the sheriff's daughter. As for Margy, she encounters Pat Gilbert (Lew Ayres), a newspaper man for The Register, while riding on a high speed roller coaster, followed by both happiness and disappointments for the Frakes before returning home to the farm where the storekeeper awaits to hear the family's final verdict.

While immensely popular at the time of its release, even to a point of being nominated for Academy Award as Best Picture, STATE FAIR has been eclipsed by the musicalized 1945 Technicolor remake by 20th Century-Fox featuring Jeanne Craine (Margy), Dana Andrews (Pat), Dick Haymes (Wayne), Charles Winniger (Abel) and Fay Bainter (Melissa), with excellent songs by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, including the Academy Award winning, "It Might as Well Be Spring." Though there's no such "Grand Night for Singing" involved here, the original STATE FAIR does contain its very own beautifully underscored theme song titled "Romantic." Interestingly, STATE FAIR was revamped and musicalized a second time by 20th Century-Fox (1962), the reason why the original title to the 1945 edition was changed to "It Happened One Summer" for television showings during the sixties and seventies before restored to its original title by the 1980s. With the new cast for 1962 headed by Pat Boone, Ann-Margret, Tom Ewell and Alice Faye, it was believed that this slice of Americana belonged to another era and out of place for the 1960s. Yet nothing comes close to Will Rogers' laid-back style and genuine humor for which he is famous.

The first time I've ever heard of the existence of STATE FAIR was when mentioned on a game show, "The Movie Game" (1969-70) during a broadcast on New York City's WOR, Channel 9, where the panelists from that program were surprised to learn there was an ever a STATE FAIR movie starring Will Rogers prior to the better known 1945 musical. For one of the finest films for both Will Rogers and Janet Gaynor, STATE FAIR has been out of circulation for many years. A slow process of availability began sometime the 1970s when presented in revival movie houses, television stations as Hartford, Connecticut's WFSB-TV, Channel 3, around 1974-75; public television's WNET, Channel 13, New York City (1991-92); the Fox Movie Channel and finally Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere" February 8, 2012). Never distributed to video cassette as some other Will Rogers movies during his Fox Film Studio period (1929-1935), distribution on DVD is long overdue for such a fine wholesome movie from a bygone era. (***1/2)

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Release Date:

10 February 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

State Fair See more »

Filming Locations:

Des Moines, Iowa, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Fox Film Corporation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(FMC Library Print) | (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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