State of the Union
Frank Capra's only MGM film, State of the Union was adapted by Anthony Veiller and Myles Connolly from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse. Spencer Tracy plays an aircraft tycoon who is coerced into seeking the Republican Presidential nomination by predatory newspaper mogul Angela Lansbury. Campaign manager Van Johnson suggests that, for appearance's sake, Tracy be reunited with his estranged wife Katharine Hepburn (replacing Claudette Colbert, who'd ankled the project after a pre-production donnybrook with director Capra). Realizing that Tracy and Lansbury are having an affair, Hepburn nonetheless agrees to grow through the devoted-wife charade because she believes that Tracy just might make a good President. Her faith is shattered when Tracy, corrupted by the Washington power brokers, publicly compromises his values in order to get votes. Only in the film's last moments does Tracy prove himself worthy of Hepburn's love and his own self-respect by admitting his dishonesty during a nationwide radio-TV broadcast. Much of the biting wit in the original Broadway production of State of the Union is sacrificed in favor of the director's patented "Capracorn," but the film is no less entertaining because of this. As usual, the supporting cast is impeccable, from featured players Adolphe Menjou (whose off-camera political arguments with Hepburn threatened to shut down production at times) and Margaret Hamilton, to bit actors like Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer and Tor (Plan 9 From Outer Space) Johnson. Because the television rights to State of the Union belonged to Capra's Liberty Films, the picture was released to TV by MCA rather than MGM's syndication division.