Dvd Check

DVD CHECK

August 31, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

State of the Union

[Universal] $15

Director Frank Capra explored idealism and corruption in politics in 1939's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and 1941's Meet John Doe, as well as 1948's State of the Union, which is just out on DVD.

Based on the hit Broadway play by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse of Life With Father fame, State of the Union stars a sturdy Spencer Tracy as a well-meaning Republican industrialist who is groomed by his mistress, a powerful newspaper publisher (an effective Angela Lans- bury), to become the party's candidate for president. But she and the party machine, which includes a slick manager played by Adolphe Menjou, aren't happy with Tracy's thoughtful speeches and encourage him to toe the party line.

Waiting not so silently in the wings is his wife (Katharine Hepburn), who is appalled by the machinations of the corrupt politicians but is persuaded to portray the happy wife and mother. Van Johnson also stars.

Capra stalwarts Gary Cooper and Claudette Colbert were slated to star, but Tracy ended up getting the role and Colbert left the project because she didn't want to work past 5 p.m. Tracy suggested Hepburn to Capra.

Hepburn, Menjou and George J. Folsey's names are misspelled in the opening credits - distribution rights that belonged to MGM were sold to another company that created its own credits.

Poseidon

[Warner] $35

Wolfgang Petersen's lavish, special effects-laden 2006 remake of the 1972 classic The Poseidon Adventure capsized with critics and audiences. Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas and Jacinda Barrett are among the stars.

The two-disc edition isn't very "special" - the making-of featurette and a diary of a film school intern's experience on the set are merely serviceable. Other extras include a featurette on the set design and a History Channel documentary, Rogue Waves.

Hunger

[New Yorker] $30

Swedish actor Per Oscarsson is a revelation in this critically lauded 1966 adaptation - it was released in the United States in 1968 - of Knut Hamsun's 1890 novel. Oscarsson plays Pontus, a starving artist on the edge of madness.

Oscarsson, who lost a tremendous amount of weight for the role, won best actor honors at the Cannes Film Festival and from the National Society of Film Critics. The DVD includes a new interview with director Henning Carlsen and an intriguing conversation between novelist Paul Auster and Regine Hamsun, the granddaughter of Knut Hamsun.

Kicking and Screaming

[Criterion] $30

Enjoyable 1995 first film by writer-director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) about four college friends who refuse to move on after they graduate. Josh Hamilton, Chris Eigeman, Parker Posey, Carlos Jacott, John Lehr and Eric Stoltz star. Extras include an interview with Baumbach about the genesis of the project, interviews he conducted with cast members, deleted scenes, Baumbach's crazy 2000 comedy short Conrad and Butler Take a Vacation, starring Jacott and Lehr, and brief interviews with Baumbach and his cast that were broadcast on the Independent Film Channel.

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