Meet Me at the Fair (1952)

87 mins | Western | December 1952

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Great Companions . HR reported in Mar 1951 that Aubrey Schenck would produce the film, and stated in Sep of that year that Lou Breslow would direct. In Mar 1952, LAT stated that Ann Blyth was to star as "Zerelda Wing." According to a Mar 1951 Var article, some scenes were to be shot in Saratoga Springs, MI, but it has not been determined if this location was used for the final film.
       Dan Dailey was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox for his role as "Doc Tilbee." An Aug 1951 HR article expressed surprise that Dailey, known for his dancing, would not dance in the film. Chet Allen, who played young "Tad Bayliss," was a singer with the Columbus Boychoir of Princeton, New Jersey. Actor Hugh O'Brian was switched from a role in Universal's Cattle Kate , which was filming simultaneously (see above), for a larger role in Meet Me at the Fair . A scene in the film includes a 1904 newsreel detailing the opening of New York City's Rapid Transit Subway and the Indianapolis ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Great Companions . HR reported in Mar 1951 that Aubrey Schenck would produce the film, and stated in Sep of that year that Lou Breslow would direct. In Mar 1952, LAT stated that Ann Blyth was to star as "Zerelda Wing." According to a Mar 1951 Var article, some scenes were to be shot in Saratoga Springs, MI, but it has not been determined if this location was used for the final film.
       Dan Dailey was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox for his role as "Doc Tilbee." An Aug 1951 HR article expressed surprise that Dailey, known for his dancing, would not dance in the film. Chet Allen, who played young "Tad Bayliss," was a singer with the Columbus Boychoir of Princeton, New Jersey. Actor Hugh O'Brian was switched from a role in Universal's Cattle Kate , which was filming simultaneously (see above), for a larger role in Meet Me at the Fair . A scene in the film includes a 1904 newsreel detailing the opening of New York City's Rapid Transit Subway and the Indianapolis Racetrack. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
13 Dec 1952.
---
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1951.
---
Daily Variety
5 Dec 52
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 Dec 52
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 1951.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 1951.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 52
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 1952
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 52
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 52
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 52
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
31 Aug 1951.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Mar 1951.
---
Los Angeles Times
18 Mar 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
13 Dec 52
p. 1637.
Variety
10 Dec 52
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
DANCE
Mus numbers staged by
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Tech consultant
Tech consultant
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story The Great Companions by Gene Markey in Ladies Home Journal (Oct 1951).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home," words and music by Hughie Cannon
"I Got the Shiniest Mouth in Town," words and music by Stan Freeberg
"Remember the Time," words and music by Marvin Wright and Kenny Williams
+
SONGS
"Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home," words and music by Hughie Cannon
"I Got the Shiniest Mouth in Town," words and music by Stan Freeberg
"Remember the Time," words and music by Marvin Wright and Kenny Williams
"I Was There," words and music by "Scat Man" Crothers and F. E. Miller
"Meet Me at the Fair," words and music by Frederick Herbert and Milton Rosen
"Sweet Genevieve," words by George Cooper, music by Henry Tucker
"Ave Maria," music by Franz Schubert, lyrics traditional
"Oh! Susanna," words and music by Stephen Foster
"All God's Chillun Got Shoes" and "Ezekiel Saw De Wheel," traditional spirituals.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Great Companions
Release Date:
December 1952
Production Date:
20 May--late June 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
3 November 1952
Copyright Number:
LP2074
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
87
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16074
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On the way to Capital City, Michigan in 1904, wonder tonic salesman Doc Tilbee and his partner, Enoch Jones, rescue Tad Bayliss, a ten-year-old boy who has just escaped from the local orphanage. Tad quickly comes to adore Doc, who spins tall tales of his heroism with such gusto that he begins to believe them himself. Meanwhile, orphanage board member Zerelda Wing inspects the boys' home and is horrified by the poor conditions. After learning that Tad has been seen with a con man, she sets out to rescue him, whereupon orphanage head Mrs. Swaile informs corrupt party boss Pete McCoy that Zerelda is out to reform his orphanage. McCoy meets with Zerelda's fiancé, ineffectual district attorney Chilton Corr, and threatens to fire him if he does not "control" her. Zerelda, meanwhile, finds Doc selling his wonder tonic, which is actually made of prune juice, alcohol and bitters. After he denies that Tad is with him, Zerelda, aware that he is lying, swears to call the sheriff and save the boy. Doc, though charmed by her fiery spirit, packs up his wagon and races off. As rain begins to fall, Tad overhears Doc tell Enoch that they will lose their source of income by running away from town, and the boy, loathe to be a burden, sneaks off the wagon. Within minutes, however, he has fallen into the raging river, and Doc, hearing his cries, rescues him. As they dry off in the wagon, Doc listens to Tad's angelic singing and is inspired to travel to Capital City and face the sheriff. There, he and Enoch disguise Tad as a girl and spirit him away to Doc's girl friend, ... +


On the way to Capital City, Michigan in 1904, wonder tonic salesman Doc Tilbee and his partner, Enoch Jones, rescue Tad Bayliss, a ten-year-old boy who has just escaped from the local orphanage. Tad quickly comes to adore Doc, who spins tall tales of his heroism with such gusto that he begins to believe them himself. Meanwhile, orphanage board member Zerelda Wing inspects the boys' home and is horrified by the poor conditions. After learning that Tad has been seen with a con man, she sets out to rescue him, whereupon orphanage head Mrs. Swaile informs corrupt party boss Pete McCoy that Zerelda is out to reform his orphanage. McCoy meets with Zerelda's fiancé, ineffectual district attorney Chilton Corr, and threatens to fire him if he does not "control" her. Zerelda, meanwhile, finds Doc selling his wonder tonic, which is actually made of prune juice, alcohol and bitters. After he denies that Tad is with him, Zerelda, aware that he is lying, swears to call the sheriff and save the boy. Doc, though charmed by her fiery spirit, packs up his wagon and races off. As rain begins to fall, Tad overhears Doc tell Enoch that they will lose their source of income by running away from town, and the boy, loathe to be a burden, sneaks off the wagon. Within minutes, however, he has fallen into the raging river, and Doc, hearing his cries, rescues him. As they dry off in the wagon, Doc listens to Tad's angelic singing and is inspired to travel to Capital City and face the sheriff. There, he and Enoch disguise Tad as a girl and spirit him away to Doc's girl friend, singer Clara Brink, who reluctantly agrees to hide him in her dressing room. Although she tries to convince Doc to settle down and marry her, he remains unconvinced. He then visits his friend, local reporter Billy Gray, and persuades him write an exposé on the orphanage. Billy soon uncovers a scheme whereby McCoy has been embezzling the home's funds. Angered, McCoy threatens to press kidnapping charges against Doc if he does not return Tad and stop the bad publicity. Doc refuses, but when Zerelda informs him that Tad's cousins, the Spooners, have been located, he agrees to let them adopt the boy. Just as he sadly says goodbye to a miserable Tad, however, McCoy and Corr burst in, pay off the "cousins," grab Tad and throw Doc out of town. Zerelda reproaches Corr and tries to talk to Doc before he leaves, but, convinced that she was in on the swindle, he snubs her. He and Enoch sneak into the orphanage that night to steal Tad back, and although they cannot find the boy, kind-hearted Enoch takes the other eleven boys into the wagon. Doc then brings them to Clara, while Corr tells the sheriff that he wants Doc, dead or alive. Soon after, Zerelda, who has rescued Tad herself, brings him to Doc and they agree to work together. To that end, they attend the governor's election night party at Clara's theater. Doc disguises himself as a singer and replaces the slides in their photo show with pictures of the dilapidated orphanage. As the audience reacts in alarm, Doc explains the corruption in the local party and Zerelda supports his story. When she produces the Spooners' falsified adoption papers, which prove that McCoy is guilty of a felony, the governor fires Corr and McCoy and makes provisions for a new, improved orphanage. Days later, Zerelda sees Doc, Enoch and Tad off, but as Doc relates one of his wild stories, she grows enamored of the fantasy, and, unable to part, they kiss. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.