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A perfect companion piece to MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, STATE OF THE UNION ($15) finds director Frank Capra taking another stab at the body politic with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn aiding and abetting in this enjoyable political satire. The plot of STATE OF THE UNION finds idealistic businessman Grant Matthews (Spencer Tracy) manipulated into a bid for The White House by newspaper publisher Kay Thorndyke (Angela Lansbury), with whom he has had an "intimate friendship" for the past several months. Of course, to secure the Presidency, Grant needs to reconcile with his estranged wife Mary (Katharine Hepburn), which occurs in rapid fashion, as the couple are obviously very much in love.

Additionally, Mary instantly backs Grantís bid to become President because of his idealistic views on the world. However, everything starts to change when Jim Conover (Adolphe Menjou) beings managing Grantís campaign and introduces the candidate to the real world of politics, where influence peddling and backroom deals cause the Presidential wannabe to begin to compromise all his ideals. Unfortunately, this not only effects Grantís standing with the "common man" who supports his campaign, but also shatters Mary faith in and respect for her husband. The cast of STATE OF THE UNION also features Van Johnson, Lewis Stone, Howard Smith, Charles Dingle, Maidel Turner, Raymond Walburn, Margaret Hamilton, Art Baker, Pierre Watkin, Florence Auer, Irving Bacon and Charles Lane.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made STATE OF THE UNION available on DVD in a fine looking black and white presentation that frames the film in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. Leo the Lion and the MGM logo is missing from the filmís opening credits, but the trademarked felineís vocals remain. As for the movie itself, the image appears pretty crisp and nicely defined. Blacks are deep and inky, whites are crisp and the picture boasts terrific contrast and grayscale. The film elements are if great shape for their age and display few blemishes or other signs of wear. There is a modest grain structure that that serves to remind one they are watching a film and not a video. Digital compression artifacts are well camouflaged.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is just fine for a film that is nearly six decades old. As expected, most instances of background hiss and surface noise have been cleaned up during the mastering process. Fidelity is somewhat lacking, but the filmís music is never harsh or distorted and average listening levels. Dialogue is always completely understandable and the voices always come across effectively. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English subtitles are provided.

The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard language set up features. Chapters are encoded onto the DVD, but they cannot be accessed from the menu system, instead, the chapter ship function can be engaged while the film is playing.

STATE OF THE UNION is another Frank Capra classic that benefits from the weight of powerhouse performers Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Universalís DVD is barebones, but the movie looks and sounds great and the price is right. Recommended.



State of the Union (1948)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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