State of the Union (film)
|State of the Union|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Frank Capra|
|Produced by||Frank Capra
|Written by||Russel Crouse (play)
Howard Lindsay (play)
Anthony Veiller (screenplay)
|Music by||Victor Young|
|Editing by||William W. Hornbeck|
|Release dates||April 30, 1948|
|Running time||111 minutes|
|Box office||$3.5 million (US rentals)|
State of the Union is a 1948 film adaptation written by Myles Connolly and Anthony Veiller of the Russel Crouse, Howard Lindsay play of the same name. Directed by Frank Capra and starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, the film is Capra's first and only project for MGM Pictures. The screenplay, about a man's run for president, abandoned the play's more controversial themes.
Republican newspaper magnate Kay Thorndyke (Angela Lansbury) intends to make her lover, aircraft tycoon Grant Matthews (Spencer Tracy), President of the United States with her as the power behind the throne. Thorndyke plans to use her newspaper chain's influence to deadlock the 1948 Republican National Convention, so it will choose Matthews as a compromise dark horse candidate instead of Dewey, Taft, or another.
Matthews is skeptical of the idea of running for president, but Thorndyke, Republican strategist Jim Conover (Adolphe Menjou), and campaign manager Spike McManus (Van Johnson) persuade him to run. Matthews reunites with estranged wife Mary (Katharine Hepburn) for the campaign. Despite knowing about Thorndyke and her husband's affair, Mary agrees to support him in public because of his idealism and honesty, and because she is unaware of Thorndyke's role in the campaign.
The politically naïve Matthews makes a controversial speech in Wichita denouncing big labor. Before he makes another controversial speech in Detroit denouncing big business, Thorndyke secretly persuades him to moderate his tone to help his chances for the nomination. With her and Conover's help, Matthews makes deals with various special interests for their support.
Before a nationwide fireside chat from the Matthews' home, Mary learns of Thorndyke's continuing relationship with her husband and sees the deals that he has made. Matthews realizes that he has betrayed his and Mary's ideals. On live radio and television, he denounces both his backers and himself as frauds, withdraws as a candidate while promising to seek bipartisan reform, and asks for his wife's forgiveness. When his backers attempt to turn off the speech, he angrily calls out, "Don't cut me off, I paid for this broadcast!".
|Spencer Tracy||Grant Matthews||Ralph Bellamy|
|Katharine Hepburn||Mary Matthews||Ruth Hussey|
|Van Johnson||Spike McManus||Myron McCormick|
|Angela Lansbury||Kay Thorndyke||Margalo Gillmore|
|Adolphe Menjou||Jim Conover||Minor Watson|
|Lewis Stone||Sam Thorndyke||not featured|
|Howard Smith||Sam I. Parrish||Herbert Heyes|
|Charles Dingle||Bill Noland Hardy||Victor Sutherland|
|Maidel Turner||Lulubelle Alexander||Maidel Turner|
|Raymond Walburn||Judge Alexander||G. Albert Smith|
|Margaret Hamilton||Norah||Helen Ray|
|Art Baker||Radio Announcer||not featured|
|Florence Auer||Grace Orval Draper||Aline McDermott|
|Irving Bacon||Buck Swenson||not featured|
Actress Claudette Colbert was originally cast as Mary, the wife of Grant Matthews, but rumors of disagreements with Capra and a reported "back injury" led Colbert to abandon the picture. Hepburn was chosen as her replacement only days before filming began: she had been helping Tracy with the script, and so was already familiar with the part. There was tension between Adolphe Menjou and Hepburn during the filming, as he was a member of the McCarthyist group Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals and she had allied herself with the rival Committee for the First Amendment.
The film was produced entirely by Capra's own company, Liberty Films. In order to cast MGM contract player Tracy in the film, the latter studio bought the distribution rights. Most of the major actors in the film were under contract to MGM also.
The movie was originally budgeted at $2.6 million and came in $450,000 under budget.
Capra bought the film after its initial theatrical release. After Capra's company folded, Liberty Films' assets were acquired by Paramount Pictures. It has since had limited availability on VHS home video and until recently has been unavailable on DVD. EMKA, Ltd./Universal Television currently owns the rights to the film due to it being a part of Paramount's pre-1950 library. Universal Studios Home Entertainment released a DVD version on August 29, 2006.
- RANDOM NOTES ON ACTIVITIES IN HOLLYWOOD: CAPRA ALTERS 'STATE OF THE UNION' -- THE CENSORS SATISFIED -- ACTORS TO VOTE By THOMAS F. BRADY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 31 Aug 1947: X3.
- HOLLYWOOD THRIFT: CAPRA SAVES ON 'STATE OF THE UNION' AND GOLDWYN CUTS BIG SALARIES -- ADDENDA By THOMAS F. BRADYHOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 15 Feb 1948: X5.
- James Curtis, Spencer Tracy: A Biography, Alfred Knopf, 2011 p562-564
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