Wednesday, April 13, 2016

State of the Union

Politics and Hollywood make for strange bedfellows, especially back in its Golden Age. After all, one's political beliefs could damage their hard-earned work. (The prime example being the Hollywood Ten.) That's one detail stays persistent over the years; the power of a political party has a certain control on one person.

Frank Capra's State of the Union may have been made back in 1948 but nearly seventy years later, it's clear not much has changed in the world. It's no Mr. Smith Goes to Washington though Capra does manage to maintain a faint sense of idealism. (Because, come on, it's Capra.)

State of the Union does bear some resemblance to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, mainly in having an honest man being a part of a convoluted political party. But Grant Matthews (Spencer Tracy) is no Jefferson Smith, what with the estranged wife (Katharine Hepburn) and the cold-hearted lover (Angela Lansbury)...

As if often the case with films of a political nature, State of the Union has a consistently solid cast. This being their fifth collaboration, Tracy and Hepburn have good chemistry even though she doesn't have terribly much to do. Van Johnson and Adolphe Menjou provide some quick one-liners, Johnson especially. But it's Lansbury that easily steals the show.

State of the Union began to show that Capra was starting to lose his former abilities as a director. Yes, he made It's a Wonderful Life only two years prior but bear in mind Hollywood was changing then. Not many people in Hollywood thrived for very long.

My Rating: ****

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