Reel Classics

State of the Union (1948) - Blu-ray Review

State of the Union

It’s Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn. Are you sold on it yet? No? Alright, let’s talk:

When you think about Tracey-Hepburn films, Frank Capra’s 1948 State of the Union is certainly not as revered or remembered in the way that Woman of the Year, Adam’s Rib, or even Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner are. Actually, this film was not even supposed to be in the iconic silver screen duo’s nine-film catalog as Hepburn’s role was originally given to Claudette Colbert, who departed from the picture just days before filming due to disagreements with Capra. So, with Colbert out and Hepburn in, MGM and Liberty Films delivered Kate and Spence’s fifth film together, and thanks to Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, we are now able to watch the political dramedy unfold in stunning Blu-ray high-definition.

"a well-made cautionary tale about the dangers of political corruption that is still (sadly) timely"


In the United States, anyone can be the President…right? (I know you are already chuckling and shaking your head. I am too.) Of course not. Especially not at the time the picture was made. Kay Thorndyke (Angela Lansbury), a Republican newspaper tycoon, is obviously aware of this. She wants the power, but knows she cannot directly get it. What does she do? Through the public influence of her paper, she makes a plan to get her married lover, Grant Matthews (Tracey), the nomination as the Republican candidate for President. He’s a well-spoken, respected, wealthy airplane business man. What’s the problem? Well, the problem is that Grant and Kay’s affair is starting to swirl around in the public. A scandal will not get him the nomination. So, to try and squash the “rumor,” the plan is to have Grant do a speaking tour around the country with – you guessed it – his wife, Mary Matthews (Hepburn). While on the tour, Mary struggles to figure out the fate of her marriage with Grant while also trying to keep him loyal to his own political ideals and keep away from the influence of Kay, her minions, and the Presidential “bug” that starts to corrupt Grant.State of the Union

What is one of the most pleasantly surprising elements of the film is actually Lansbury and Hepburn’s strong-female characters – a nice little stray from the norms of the time period. Lansbury’s Kay, though the main villain of the story, plays an uncompromising, wealthy woman in power who has Grant wrapped around her finger. And Hepburn’s Mary does her best to hold her own as she is merely a pawn in Kay’s plan. She is still devoted to Grant, but she does not compromise so easily and she will not let Grant do so either. Though Lansbury and Hepburn are not the ones running for President, they certainly are the ones running the show. 

Overall, State of the Union, is a well-made cautionary tale about the dangers of political corruption that is still (sadly) timely, and probably always will be. But it is certainly not lacking Capra’s touch of comedy that can be seen in things from witty dialogue and even some fun, mild airplane stunts (yes, you read that correctly) to keep nice moments of levity for such a heavy subject. And, of course, Spencer Tracey is wonderful as a passionate, troubled, misguided man who gets momentarily drunk with the idea of power. But you do not need me to convince you of Tracey’s talent. 

With all of these wonderful attributes combined, it is a delightful picture with a strong message, and by the end of the film, you will be thinking, “I’d vote for Spencer Tracey.”

4/5 stars

 

State of the Union

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Universal
Available on Blu-ray
- September 7, 2021
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Academy Award-winning screen icons Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn shine in a classic film about marriage, politics and the pursuit of the American dream. When idealistic businessman Grant Matthews (Tracy) is chosen to run for the Presidency, he is caught between the ruthless ambition of a string-pulling newspaper owner and the integrity of his devoted wife (Hepburn). But just as Matthews embraces his ultimate goal, he realizes that he may have lost touch with the American people. Masterfully directed by three-time Academy Award winner Frank Capra (It's a Wonderful Life, It Happened One Night), State of the Union is a timeless crowd pleaser with a stellar supporting cast including Angela Lansbury, Van Johnson and Adolphe Menjou.

Video:

Presented in a full frame 1.33:1 aspect ratio, Universal Pictures’ 1080p restoration does a good job in cleaning up the old film print and adding wonderful contrast and much-need depth to the black and white film. However, it does seem that quite a bit of the old film grain was sacrificed in trying to get rid of the old distracting noise. But overall, the film no doubt looks better than ever.

Audio:

With its DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono soundtrack, everything from impassioned speeches to the loud buzzes of airplanes come in crisp and clear.

Supplements:

Commentary:

Special Features:

There are no special features or commentary included for this release.

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 0/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3/5 stars


Film Details

State of the Union

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
124 mins
Director
: Frank Capra
Writer:
Anthony Veiller
Cast:
Spencer Tracy; Katharine Hepburn; Van Johnson
Genre
: Comedy | Drama
Tagline:
How's the State of the Union? It's GREAT!
Memorable Movie Quote: "You politicians have stayed professionals only because the voters have remained amateurs."
Theatrical Distributor:
MGM
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 30, 1948
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
September 7, 2021.
Synopsis: A classic film about marriage, politics and the pursuit of the American dream. When idealistic businessman Grant Matthews (Tracy) is chosen to run for the Presidency, he is caught between the ruthless ambition of a string-pulling newspaper owner and the integrity of his devoted wife (Hepburn). But just as Matthews embraces his ultimate goal, he realizes that he may have lost touch with the American people.

Art

State of the Union

 

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