State Fair (1945)

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Released 23-Apr-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Production Notes
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1945
Running Time 96:20
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Walter Lang
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Jeanne Crain
Dana Andrews
Dick Haymes
Vivian Blaine
Charles Winninger
Fay Bainter
Case ?
RPI $31.95 Music Richard Rogers
Oscar Hammerstein II


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Highlights Coca-Cola
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

   State Fair is another Rogers and Hammerstein musical that I had not seen in its entirety prior to this review. I found my reviewing sessions of South Pacific and Carousel to be quite dull, and so was not particularly looking forward to viewing this DVD release, but am happy to report that I enjoyed State Fair much more than I expected.

    The main story arc revolves around Margy (Jeanne Crain) and Wayne Frake (Dick Haymes), siblings who find love and sadness at the Iowa State Fair. Margy appears to be bored with life and is looking for love, while brother Wayne is snubbed by his girl and goes to the fair with only an interest in paying back a bad experience the year before. Both find unexpected love (as usual the pace of the romance in these musicals is light speed) in the form of reporter Pat Gilbert (Dana Andrews) and sultry singer Emily Edwards (Vivian Blaine). The side story involves the fun old parents, Abel and Melissa Frake, played nicely by Charles Winninger and Faye Bainter, and their attempts at winning prizes at the fair.

    I found the music in State Fair to be far more catchy than both South Pacific and Carousel. It did not contain pointless music and dance sequences that I felt the other two had. The songs really did enhance the story, which is quite simple in itself. The use of colour throughout seems to brighten the whole mood of the movie. Some people believe State Fair to be the weakest of the Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, but I disagree and would give that distinction to Carousel.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer was satisfactory for a movie of this age.

    The movie is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. I could not detect any use of Pan&Scan techniques, and the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 explains why.

    Sharpness levels throughout are fairly good, although there are a couple of scenes that looked a little overly soft and fuzzy. There really aren't a lot of blacks and dark colours in this movie, but those that do occur have no real problems with black levels. There are only a handful of darkly lit scenes, and it is expected that a film of this age wouldn't have sensational shadow detail. This doesn't really present a problem with this transfer, though, and the dark scenes are handled well enough. Grain is more of a problem being visible throughout the movie. Stark backgrounds such as the sky, meadows, and various white items such as kitchenware reveal the grain present.

    Colours are very vibrant in this transfer, but suffer from some colour bleed. In particular, the opening credit sequence uses colours very well with deep reds and bright blues, but the colour from the credit text bleeds into the background. Skin tones were pretty much normal, but with the occasional girl looking like she had a little too much make-up. Overall, the colour usage is bright and fits in well with the feel-good nature of the movie.

    As expected of a film this age, film artefacts are plentiful, but for the most part their prevalence is quite acceptable for a movie going on almost 50 years. Black and white flecks appear on a regular basis, with occasions of severe blizzard type outbreaks such as at 9:56 in the kitchen. The odd white line down the frame also appears now and again and can be distracting. Aliasing is not a problem even though the sharpness is generally quite good. It is a relief to note that very little edge enhancement is detectable.

    English subtitles are provided and are generally accurate.

    This is a single sided, single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    An English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kb/s) mono soundtrack is provided, and is a little disappointing.

    Dialogue was usually clear throughout the movie, but sometimes seemed a little muffled (a trait throughout the transfer). There were no noticeable audio synchronisation issues. The good (if not over-the-top) stereo separation within other recent Rogers and Hammerstein DVD releases is not apparent in this transfer.

    The music is generally good, although on occasions sounds slightly muffled such as during the opening credit sequence and music montage. It would have been nice if the score was mixed into the surrounds a little to open up the soundstage a bit. The music here I feel is much better than other recent releases that I have reviewed such as South Pacific and Carousel, although still does not rank up there with Oklahoma! and The Sound of Music.

    The soundstage is very much frontal, with no detectable surround usage at all. State Fair has missed out on the 5.1 remixing that some of the other Rogers and Hammerstein musicals have been given, such as South Pacific.

    The subwoofer also has an easy night with no activity at all.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer

    A very good trailer that introduces each of the new songs in a nice manner.

Cast & Crew

    This provides various notes about the background of the cast and crew. Mildly interesting, with nice clear text.

Production Notes

    This provides some information about the development of the story and the movie adaptation of the novel by Phillip Strong.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 release has not been treated to the THX digital remastering process given to its Region 1 counterpart. I am not sure that the remastering would provide that much of an improvement over the Region 4 release, and so would still recommend the Region 4 version.

Summary

    After being less than impressed with the other Rogers and Hammerstein movies that I have recently reviewed, I was happy to enjoy State Fair as much as I did. It is certainly not nearly as boring as Carousel, and has some very good music and songs. If you are a Rogers and Hammerstein fan, this should be on your list.

    The video quality is satisfactory for its age.

    The audio quality is a little disappointing. Some surround and subwoofer use would have been desirable.

    The extras are nothing particularly memorable.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Chanh-Khai Ly (My biodegradable bio)
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo DV-SP500, using Component output
DisplayRK-32HDP81 HDTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD/DD-EX/DTS/DTS-ES matrix and discrete. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersKef KHT 2005 5.1 Home Theatre System

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