Movie Review: So Long at the Fair (1950)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1950 mystery starring Jean Simmons and Dirk Bogarde.

Synopsis: A young woman travels to Paris with her brother so they can attend the 1889 World's Fair. After checking into their hotel and going out to dinner, the woman decides to go to bed. When she wakes up, her brother is missing and the hotel's staff insists he was never with her, she checked into the hotel alone and his room, number 19, doesn't exist. The only person who believes her is an English painter, who borrowed money from her brother the night he disappeared.


I came across this film on one of our movie channels a couple nights ago and, figuring it would be something I could watch in the morning, while having breakfast before going to work, ended up recording it. At first, I wasn't really sure what to expect from this movie, at least based on the description. But, it turned out to be a halfway decent mystery.

I think the thing I really liked about this film was the apparent lack of motive in the brother's (Tomlinson)disappearance. The only apparent suspect in his disappearance was the hotel's owner (Nesbitt) and her staff. But, they were staying a popular and reputable hotel. So, the idea of the staff going through such extraordinary lengths over a broach and a small amount of cash seemed unlikely.

Not to mention, whenever she was questioned, the owner didn't seem to have any real malicious intent. Instead, she seemed afraid, as though she knew a secret and wanted to let the sister in on it but was terrified of the consequences.

This made the movie much more enjoyable because there simply were no clues that gave any indication about what happened to her brother and why. In fact, for a while, I started to wonder if maybe the hotel was a red herring and the painter (Bogarde) was really the man responsible and was just going through the pretense of helping her just to keep her off his trail, even though that, admittedly, didn't explain the hotel's actions.

I will, however, say I was kind of disappointed by the ending of this film. The brother's whereabouts, when revealed, along with the motive for his disappearance were plausible (though I think the reason for not telling the sister was a bit of a stretch) . However, the overall execution of his disappearance did seem to be a bit far fetched.

This is mostly because of the brother's room. I figured, based on the limited amount of time the culprits would have had to make it disappear, it was simply a matter of switching the room number with one on a storage closet or something. Instead, it turned out to be much more complex than that. As a result, I have a hard time believing anyone could do what they did in such a short amount of time, especially without waking any of the guests.

I like a good mystery as much as any one. But, there was just something about this movie that wasn't as believable as I would have liked the mystery to have been.

Final Opinion

Overall, I think this is a good film with a decent mystery. However, as I said, I wasn't impressed with the ending and I think it does keep the movie from being a great film.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 06/14/2016, StevenHelmer
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