Sunday, March 18, 2012

State of the Union

As a hated tycoon newspaperman lays dying, he implores his daughter and successor (Angela Lansbury) to take revenge on the members of the Republican party who have slandered and betrayed him. To do this, she grooms an aircraft magnate (Spencer Tracy), with whom she's also having an affair, to take the nomination who agrees only to do so if his wife (Katharine Hepburn) will go on the campaign trail. Now, the already strained marriage begins to worsen as the candidate is forced to make compromise after compromise in his quest for the nomination. "State of the Union" is Frank Capra's excellent filmization of Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse's play and is much more hard bitten than the hokey elements which typified his early films. Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn are both wonderful, also playing slightly different roles, playing people becoming disillusioned by the political process. Angela Lansbury is also distinctive in a malevolent supporting role, as are Adolphe Menjou and Van Johnson. "State of the Union" is entertaining but also cynical and indicting, a rare and interesting hodgepodge for a political film.