Movie Mirrors Index

State of the Union

(1948 b 124')

En: 7 Ed: 8

Based on a play by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay, a businessman is reunited with his wife in order to run for President, and they both learn of the compromises he is expected to make.

Sam Thorndyke (Lewis Stone) is dying and tells his daughter Kay Thorndyke (Angela Lansbury) not to be sentimental. They say goodbye, and he shoots himself. Kay asks politician Jim Conover (Adolphe Menjou) and journalist Spike McManus (Van Johnson) to persuade Grant Matthews (Spencer Tracy) to run from President. Matthews wants people to work together, but he does not like politics. Kay listens to Jim's phone call about gossip. Jim says that Kay and Grant should not be seen together and that Grant will have to campaign with his wife. Grant calls his family and invites his wife Mary Matthews (Katharine Hepburn) to stay with Jim in Washington. Kay tells Jim that he could be Republican chairman.

Mary arrives and tells Jim that she can stay in the same room with Grant. Jim asks her to travel with Grant, and she agrees. Mary tells Grant he would be a good President. Mary gets jealous of Kay and has Grant sleep on the floor. Mary asks him if he wants a divorce, and he admits he is not successful.

On the plane Spike writes a speech for Grant. A test pilot approaches, and Grant flies the plane, doing stunts. They make a bet, and both parachute.

Kay tells her editors she wants a deadlocked convention with the candidates in conflict, and they resign. Spike calls Kay and says that Grant lost labor. Jim joins them in Detroit. Grant and Mary are happy. Grant gets AFL and CIO leaders together. Grant tells Jim that he will speak about the danger of inflation, health care for all, foreign aid, strong defense, and world government. Jim complains and hands Grant a speech. Mary tells Jim that Grant needs to be honest. Kay tells Jim that Grant will be okay.

On the plane Mary tells Grant that he has changed. Grant tells Jim he will do anything to get the nomination. Jim and Grant make deals to get influential backers. Bill Hardy (Charles Dingle) asks Jim about Kay. Spike visits Kay at home, and she asks why Grant changed his speech. Spike asks Mary to invite Kay to her house for the broadcast.

Jim welcomes Kay, and Spike warns Mary not to drink. Mary gives Kay a drink, and Jim says that twenty million people are listening. Mary learns that Kay was in Detroit and got Grant to talk for big business. Mary drinks and gets silly. Hardy makes a demand before he will speak, but Kay takes control and threatens him. Mary says that she and the children will not speak, because they have ruined Grant. He asks Kay to replace Mary, but Spike begs Mary to go on. Mary speaks about Grant as honest, but Grant interrupts her and admits he sold out to corrupt politicians. He tells what Hardy wanted and says he is no better. Grant says America needs to share. He withdraws and apologizes, especially to Mary. Grant says he will urge candidates to be honest and voters to participate. Kay and Jim fire cheering Spike.

This drama explores the temptations of presidential politics by showing what happens when an honest man changes his views so that he can get nominated by the politicians that control the primaries and conventions.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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