State of the Union (1948) 720p

Movie Poster
State of the Union (1948) bluray - Movie Poster
Comedy | Drama
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
English 2.0  
Run Time:
124 min
IMDB Rating:
7.3 / 10 
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Directors: Frank Capra [Director] ,

Movie Description:
Kay Thorndyke (Dame Angela Lansbury) loves Grant Matthews (Spencer Tracy) and helps him become Republican nominee for President. The party machine begins to worry as Grant begins to speak for himself. At an important dinner, his wife Mary (Katharine Hepburn) condemns corrupt politicians, and Grant learns to speak out even more boldly.


  • State of the Union (1948) bluray - Movie Scene 1
  • State of the Union (1948) bluray - Movie Scene 2
  • State of the Union (1948) bluray - Movie Scene 1

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Compromising situations

One understandably expects a lot from 'State of the Union'. Really like to love most of Frank Capra's films, with 'It's a Wonderful Life' being an all-time favourite. Have always considered Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy extrenely talented actors and their pairing was deservedly legendary and one of the most famous cinematic pairings. The involvement of Adolphe Menjou and Angela Lansbury also promises a lot.

'State of the Union' may not be one of Capra's all time best, but it doesn't deserve to be merely known as a minor Capra. It is also a shame that it is one of the lesser known Tracy and Hepburn films (with them doing nine between 1942 and 1967, starting with 'Woman of the Year' and ending with 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' just before Tracy's death), when to me it is actually one of their best. If asked which one is my favourite, it would be 'Adam's Rib' followed by 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner', while their weakest 'The Sea of Grass' was still watchable despite being heavily problematic. While not considering 'State of the Union' a classic as such, it is very interesting and very good still with an awful lot in its favour.

It is not the most refined of films on a technical level with some instances of uncharacteristically choppy editing.

Maybe it emphasises its points a little too much at times, so subtlety is not always there. The warmth present in other Capra films is not as strong here, though that is a comparison nit-pick.

Hepburn and Tracy however are both superb, Tracy being nicely understated but always engaged while Hepburn attacks her more interesting character without ever losing interest or going too shrill. Their chemistry really fires on all cylinders in a film that is something of a chemistry master-class. They are terrifically supported by the rest of the cast, with Angela Lansbury coming close to stealing the show in a more mature role for her at that time and never coming over as too lightweight. Menjou is his usual never less than solid self, and any tension behind the scenes between him and Hepburn doesn't come over in the film. Van Johnson stretches his comedic chops and is amusing while Lewis Stone brings dignity to his role.

Capra directs with his usual distinctive touch, never letting the film falling into corn or schmaltz though the film may lack the "warmth" of some of his other films. The story is always engaging and at its best enthralling, and the performances and the chemistry helps enormously in it coming alive. This coming alive feel is even more apparent in the clever script that crackles in wit and dazzles in sophistication, with enough insightful moments and some emotionally powerful ones, Tracy's climactic speech for one.

Overall, very good. 8/10 Bethany Cox

Political damp squib

This film should have been right up my street. I love prime Capra (this was made only two years after "It's a Wonderful Life") and am a fan of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn both, but this would-be excoriating exposee of American electoral politics certainly doesn't get my vote.

Perhaps my being American doesn't help either. A lot of the rapid-fire dialogue with its references to topical U.S. politics of the time and the functioning of the big party machine by fixers and bosses went over my head for one thing.

Whilst I'm aware that at the time of this movie Tracy and Hepburn's own extra-marital affair was already well-known and long-running, still Tracy appears miscast as the kid-from-nowhere idealistic straight-arrow industrialist put forward by the new kingmaker in Washington circles, Angela Lansbury, with whom he's been having an affair behind the scenes, although you'd hardly know it when they share a scene. Adolphe Menjou too seems too lightweight as the serpent-like back-seat driver Conavan and Van Johnson as the bell-wether press agent gets to mug a lot and not much else.

To my mind Tracy's character takes Lansbury and Menjou's presidential bait too easily before he then too quickly compromises himself to get the delegate votes for the upcoming party convention. Elsewhere there's a pointless extended scene where the would-be President takes the controls of the aircraft flying him to go through a series of aerial stunts presumably to show him as a man of the people.

I also found the supposedly humorous inserts fell flat especially when the old hotel chambermaid takes a shine to Johnson and of course the climactic party scene at the candidate's house where Tracy's to make his big address to the nation and a drunk Hepburn brings him to his senses while the old Capra-corn touch of employing scenes where the ordinary average American citizen punctures the surrounding political hypocrisy this time came across as very obvious, laboured and heavy-handed.

No, this time there was no sense of the warm afterglow I normally experience after watching a good Capra movie. All the huffing and puffing on show here couldn't blow this House of Representatives down.

State Of The Union - Has Anything Changed?

Where did this come from? Being unheard of for so many years I fully expected either a load of rubbish or a press & politically sabotaged surprise. It turns out to be both. Clearly based on a stage production (and a successful one) the movie also feels too much like a filmed play. Technically it's both big-budget-slick, and messy. It also looks as if it might have been tampered with after the completion of the initial edit - with some of the worst continuity cuts seen in a major release or maybe they had trouble with Tracy's drinking and lines?? The movie is politically on target as would be expected from Mr Capra and reminds us of the present day arena. Tends to suggest the Democrats remain as out for themselves as ever while the common worker gets shafted. This picture is not treated as 'idealistically' as earlier politically themed Capra shows but, it does suffer with going on for too long.

It also suffers with some eye-rolling poor technical details - such as some hi-jinks in a light plane with Tracy in the pilot seat. Performances are all top notch with many classic faces from the era but the length makes the staginess seem even more apparent. Some knowledge of American political history would help keep up with the one liners and comments that flow freely. Seems Katharine Hepburn took over from Claudette Colbert at the last minute but, as she'd been assisting Tracy with his rehearsals was already up to speed. A 23 yr old Angela Lansbury makes for a formidable newspaper heiress out to ruin the aspirations of Tracy's candidature and would imagine that John Frankenheimer or his casting agent would have seen this performance before casting her in The Manchurian Candidate. 'Union' is harder to settle into than other Capra offerings, but interesting for its observations of the day and how some still hold true.
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