Based on Phil Stong’s bestseller written around a country fair, Henry King has nicely caught the spirit of the simple story and has turned in a production that has the charm of naturalness and the virtue of sincerity.
No villain, little suspense, but a straightforward story of a rural family who find their great moments at the state fair, where paterfamilias captures the title for his prize hog, the mother makes a clean sweep in the pickle entries, the boy gets his first vicarious but satisfying taste of romance, and the girl finds a more lasting love.
Of chief interest is the debut of a new romance team in Janet Gaynor and Lew Ayres. His rather flippant style gives a needed tang to situations which sometimes in the past have been too saccharine. It is a charming romance between these two. There is interest, too, in the less wholesome romance of the boy with the girl of the acrobatic act. Norman Foster and Sally Eilers handle this capably, while there is just enough of Will Rogers’ quaint humor and Louise Dresser’s country dame to temper the more hectic moments.
For a moment Victor Jory steals the screen as the concession owner who gypped young Frake (Foster) the year before and smilingly prepares to repeat, only to find that his erstwhile victim has spent the twelve-month interval in practising to ring the prizes and is practically a dead shot. There is even a humorous twist to the porcine romance of Blue Boy, the prize hog, who comes to life only when he meets Esmeralda, the red-headed sow.
1932/33: Nominations: Best Picture, Adaptation