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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Matt and Christina Drayton are a couple whose attitudes are challenged when their daughter brings home a fiancé who is black.
|Studio :||Stanley Kramer Productions,|
|Crew :||Production Design, Set Decoration,|
|Cast :||Katharine Hepburn Spencer Tracy Sidney Poitier Katharine Houghton Isabel Sanford|
|Genre :||Drama Comedy Romance|
What a waste of my time!!!
Thanks for the memories!
Excellent, Without a doubt!!
The movie is wildly uneven but lively and timely - in its own surreal way
Thinking about the movie's premise now, it's something you would see played for comedy nowadays. A white woman bringing a black man home for dinner with the parents, it's rather laughable. But what holds up about "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", how it remains serious is how deep it goes into its subject matter. About more than just prejudice and racism, this story dives into concepts like liberalism and romanticism, about letting go of the old for the new, without getting too far ahead of itself.And all that narrative depth is backed up by some great performances. Sidney Poltier is compelling and relatable as Dr. John Prentice. Every time his wife-to-be Joanna pushes their relationship just a little farther, his worry is clear, not about going through with it, but about ensuring everyone's approval. Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn as the parents are fantastic to watch; Hepburn is amazing with her expressions, portraying her emotions with subtlety and allure. Meanwhile, Tracey gives a heartfelt performance, serving as the most conflicted character throughout the story.The movie isn't too serious though; it has enough a sense of humor that it's never boring or melodramatic. There is a point near the end where it gets somewhat heavy-handed with the points and themes, but it feels deserved and it's still enjoyable to watch. Aside from a couple parts that felt unnecessary, and a situation that pushes on the surreal at points, this is an exceptional movie. Its base premise may not be timeless, but its characters and their respective conditions will be.
Stanley Kramer's Guess Who's Coming Home to Dinner is an old-fashioned, but heartfelt and endearing drama with a weighty topic (for the 1960's and even in some regard today). That topic is the theme of interracial marriage. The 1960's was when the African-Americans were fighting for their civil rights and eventually succeeded in getting them. But the white population were wary of them, even the liberals who supported their cause. This movie has such a strong premise, so strong that it has been known the principal actors signed on to the film without reading the screenplay. This was far from low-key because these actors happened to be major names like Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, two of Hollywood's greatest stars ever to be seen on the big screen. This controversial premise, interracial marriage, was seen as a positive factor in the film and that was a rarity for Hollywood productions back in the day.Despite the use of the big theme, there is nothing new about the film hence me describing the film as old-fashioned in my opening sentence. William Rose's screenplay is rather predictable and the characters, especially the minor ones were given the usual Hollywood stereotypes. We have the black maid who is seen as a mother figure and knows how to whip up a fine meal. There is the Irish monsignor who acts very Irish with those twinkly eyes and hearty laughs. Because the central premise is a black man marrying a white woman, of course each one's family will vehemently oppose the marriage due to being different colors. But despite these predictable tropes and stereotypes ..the film won me over in a big way. The story is very charming and the performances are wonderful and they have even have a sense of poignancy thanks to the rapidly failing health of Spencer Tracy during production. Even the cheesy moments were charming, such as the opening song performed by Frank DeVol and the dance sequence by the milk delivery boy that was utterly pointless, but somehow brought a smile to my face.Now the plot revolves around interracial marriage, as mentioned previously. Joanna Drayton (Katherine Houghton), a white 23-year old daughter of a liberal newspaper editor, Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy) gets engaged during her Hawaiian vacation to a black man named Dr. John Prentice (Sidney Poitier). Everything is perfect about Prentice ..except his skin color. Joanna or as her friends and family call her Joey, decides to introduce her fiancé to her family. The problem is, they want her parent's blessing in one night because he has to fly to Geneva for a WHO conference. Joey's mother, Christina (Katherine Hepburn) immediately agrees and takes the situation rather well. On the other hand, Matt doesn't take too kindly to be given a single night to come up with a decision. Christina decides its a good idea to invite John's parents (Beau Richards and Roy Glenn), who were flying a short distance from L.A to San Francisco, to dinner. At the dinner table, along with Monsignor Ryan (Cecil Kellaway), Joey and John try to convince everyone why they should get married.I loved all the performances in the film, which shouldn't be too surprising because of the talent of the actors. But in a way, these performances come across as emotional not only because of the timely themes, but this would be the last role Spencer Tracy would ever do. He died only two weeks after production ended, and you can tell he was hurting during the film. But he delivered a powerhouse performance and an incredible speech at the end. He was the first actor ever to receive a posthumous nomination at the Academy Awards, but he did not win. Nonetheless, he delivered a very strong performance. He shared the screen in this movie with his long-time lover and co-star Katherine Hepburn, who assisted Spencer with this movie because of his ailing health. Hepburn delivers a mighty fine performance which was awarded with a Best Actress win. She was past her prime looks-wise, but her talent never left. One of the emotional scenes of the movie is the glistening tears she produced when Spencer gave his heartfelt speech. You could tell this would be the final hurrah for Spencer, and Katherine knew that. Miss Hepburn also got her niece, Katherine Houghton to play Joey. She did an okay job, although you could tell she hasn't been around acting for that long. The final powerhouse performance was from Sidney Poitier, as the perfect John Prentice. His character was handsome, intelligent, has a good career, and graduated from a top school, but his skin color raised questions. Poitier, coming off massive box office successes, does incredible work here. It felt like his performance were overshadowed by Spencer and Katherine's performance, but don't overlook his performance. Finally, I also liked Cecil Kellaway's supporting turn as Monsignor Ryan. The old man was funny and I loved his rogue Irish personality.Despite all the flaws, I very much liked Guess Who's Coming Home to Dinner. I guess timely themes and the combined star power of Tracy and Hepburn are enough to turn mediocre movies into great movies. Despite some serious undertones, the film has a light atmosphere thanks to the fluid direction of Stanley Kramer. Kramer had an idea what to do with this movie from day one and he succeeded in making that movie. The film has accomplished its purpose in taking a stance with interracial marriage. Not only that, but it is very entertaining. It is one of those films that will make you laugh and will make you cry. In that regards, that is where you can find the term "old-fashioned." Some scenes are cheesy (dancing milk man, anyone?), and some are mighty powerful (Spencer's speech). The film proves love has no bounds and you can marry whomever you want, no matter the skin color.My Grade: A
Guess who's coming to dinner is a first class film. It focuses on the subject of interracial marriage and the challenges that can arise. Set in the 1960s, this was definitely topical. We are treated to first class acting from Sidney Poitier who is arguable one of the greatest and most dignified actors to grace the screen. Great performances from Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn who play shocked and concerned parents. This film also focused on the important issue of walking the talk, righteous people who preach certain ways of living but we see it put to the test when they themselves are in that situation. The parents who raised a unbiased and open minded daughter must deal with her choices. Spencer Tracey's speech to his daughter and Sidney is one of the best in film. He passes on an important message of understanding and righteousness to not just his daughter and son in law to be but the rest of America watching. A showcase of brilliant acting and messages in a film that was ahead of its time.
At the film's end, the counterculture and the societal mind-set turn is the most prominent. It's somewhat tense, packed (with different individuals and "groups" of people) and has the viewer watching with batted breath to see how this will all be handled, and if the couple we've come to love, Dr. Prentice and Joanna, will find acceptance and if that acceptance remains an important factor prior to marriage. The common themes of counterculture and prevalent throughout. The elements of race, how Joanna openly talks about sex with her mother (we see her mother go red in the face, yet Joanna behind her is totally unfazed. A great use of framing here). Also, there's an okay amount of swearing, conflicts between the older and younger generations (where the younger generation isn't immediately reprimand as they would have in earlier films).