- 8/30/2006 12:00:00 AM by stphifer
This is my favorite Tracy-Hepburn film and one of my favorite FrankCapra films. I recommend reading Capra's out-of-print biography, "TheName Above the Title" for the interesting story of the reaction to thisfilm by official Washington in 1948.
Quite reminiscent of "Meet John Doe," the story tests the character ofa man against the political power-brokers who want to use him for theirown purposes. Ideals battle pragmatism in ways that still ring true 50+years later.
Angela Landsbury is a wicked woman (can we call her a fem fa tale?) inan amazing performance foreshadowing her role in 1962's "ManchurianCandidate." Adolphe Menjou's sleazy political boss is about a greasy asthey come.
All in all there is nothing like a Capra film to make me what to stickto my principles and listen to the people who really love me. Add toCapra's theme of the inherent wisdom of the people this first rategroup of actors and you have two hours of time well spent.
- 5/1/1999 12:00:00 AM by Matthew Nehmer ([email protected])
`Is there any difference between Democrats and Republicans?'`The difference is that they're in and we're out.' -- A line from Stateof the Union, one of only a handful of political films to use directpartisan language.
Based on a 1945 play by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, State of theUnion marked Frank Capra's return to the political genera. This film is alsothe third of nine pictures featuring Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn.In this outing, Tracey plays Grant Matthews, a famous aircraft tycooncourted by the Republican Party to become their candidate for President ofthe United States. The film's title, in addition to referring to thecountry, is also a metaphor for Matthews' relationship with his wife, Mary(Hepburn). The two are having marital problems sparked by Matthews' affairwith a newspaper heir Kay Thorndyke (played by a 22-year-old Angela Lansburyconvincingly portraying a woman in her forties).
Once the campaign is underway, the classic theme of a good man sacrificinghis ideals in order to win begins to surface. Matthews' speeches arereworked as to not offend any big political establishments (e.g. bigbusiness, labor, agriculture, etc.), and soon he begins to loose his ownvoice along with his identity. Finally, in the film's climax, Matthews isforced to choose between a certain nomination for the presidency or a wifewho represents his true character.
Incidentally, for a movie centered on a republican character, State of theUnion does not focus on a conventional conservative theme, nor does it onlytarget liberals. The film ribs big business, `the American Dream is notabout making money,' in addition to labor. And even though Harry S Truman isthe subject of several quips, he was said to have really enjoyed the film,often playing it on his presidential yacht.
At the box office, State of the Union performed better in smaller outletsthan large markets. It premiered at New York's Radio City Music Hall to aopening week of $137,000, `this is a bit under hopes, especially in view ofintensive advance campaign and strong reviews,' reported Varitey. In LosAngeles, the film opened at No. 1 with $52,000 but `not a smash.' Though inmarkets such as Minneapolis, Kansas City and Seattle, the film pulled bignumbers. Overall the film was a success, but it did not match the box officebounty of Capra's earlier films including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington orthe other Tracey/Hepburn parings for that matter (e.g. Adam's Rib, Pat &Mike, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner).
- 7/23/2001 12:00:00 AM by lora64
My impressions: Fast paced, fast talking, no letup, enough dialogue forthree movies! It's a frank look at the underbelly of politics, the wheelingsand dealings of the back room. Grant Matthews (Spencer Tracy) is the likelycandidate for the presidency but he's filled with such fine idealism that hebecomes more of an encumbrance to his supporters who think that gettingahead means sacrificing one's ideals, pandering to those in authority, orwhatever it takes to gain votes. Enter on the scene Grant's wife, Mary (KateHepburn) who is adamant and uncompromising when she sees how dishonest andinsipid his public speeches are forced to become. But right triumphs in theend.
I must say Angela Lansbury, here in the role of a wealthy heiress, isremarkably poised and mature as an older woman in spite of her youthfullooks -- a very talented lady. Both Adolphe Menjou and Van Johnson keep upthe pace of dialogue and events splendidly as substantial supporting castmembers.
If the term can be coined, this is a "politician's movie" yet still ofinterest to the ordinary viewer.
- 7/1/2003 12:00:00 AM by bestactor
This is an outstanding movie that belongs in the standard viewingrepertoireof greatmovies from the 1940's. There is a reason this movie is not so well known.It wasobviously filmed as a big MGM production (you can hear the lion's roar onthesoundtrack!) that became owned by Frank Capra's Liberty Films. The scriptisveryintelligent and demonstrates a knowing cynicism of the political world,butmuch morebelievable and less sentimental than Mr. Smith or other Capra films. Mostpeople haveseen only a few Tracy-Hepburn movies. Hopefully with Hepburn's recentpassing therights owner will produce a digitally restored DVD with backgroundexplaining thehistory and perspective of this seldom seen classic.
- 8/27/2006 12:00:00 AM by theowinthrop