Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)
Old-line liberals Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn have raised their daughter Katharine Houghton to think for herself. Still, they aren't completely prepared for the shock when Houghton returns home from a vacation with a new fiance: black doctor Sidney Poitier. The young folks must also contend with Poitier's disapproving parents.
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Critic Reviews for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
A disaster on all counts -- its time, if it ever had one, has definitely passed.
A wishy-washy, sanctimonious plea for tolerance, directed with Kramer's customary verbosity and stodginess.
It would be easy to tear the plot to shreds and catch Kramer in the act of copping out. But why? On its own terms, this film is a joy to see, an evening of superb entertainment.
Examines its subject matter with perception, depth, insight, humor and feeling
...an appealing premise that's employed to watchable (if entirely uneven) effect by filmmaker Stanley Kramer...
...rather tame and superficial by today's standards: a gentle, sentimental comedy on the subject of interracial marriage.
Tracy looks tired in this draggy production; he died soon afterward, and it's infuriating to watch him sweat to inject fire into such pap.
There are wonderful performances here, as you'd expect from Hepburn and Tracy, and there's no question that the film is well intentioned. Yet it's also hamfisted and self-congratulatory in the most galling way.
Billed in 1967 as Hollywood's first serious film about interracial marriage, this theatrical movie begs one question: What mother in her right mind will object to Sidney Poitier as a fiance to her daughter--he's handsome, renowned pro, and gentleman
An earnest liberal outing that today seems passive, tame and condescending, but still watchable because of the performances of Tracy, Hepburn and Poitier.
Well-meaning and generally effective.
Audience Reviews for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
A remarkable drama considering its important subject for when it came out, and it works very well despite a few discrepancies in tone, like a silly ice cream scene that plays for cheap laughs. But it is Hepburn and Tracy who bring it to a higher level with wonderful performances.More
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Houghton, Cecil Kellaway, Beah Richards, Isabel Sanford, Roy Glenn, Virginia Christine
Director: Stanley Kramer
Summary: Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn star as wealthy Californians who consider themselves progressive until their only daughter (Katharine Houghton) brings home her African American fiancť (Sidney Poitier) in this snapshot of race relations in the late 1960s. The film earned two Academy Awards (for Hepburn's performance and William Rose's screenplay) and eight other nominations.
My Thoughts: "I can't imagine what it must have been like when this film came out in 1967. How controversial it must have been to see a black man and a white woman in a relationship and going to be married. It of course isn't such a big deal in today's world. But for some, still an issue. It's a smartly written film with such great acting. I loved Spencer Tracy as the father and Cecil Kellaway, who was quite funny as the Monsignor. I'm sure it made people think, talk about it more, and changed peoples views. My mother said the movie was a very big deal when it came out. That some people were outraged and disgusted while other's where impressed and celebrated the film in hopes of changing some persons views. The ending speech that Spencer Tracy gives near the end of the film is moving. Kudos to everyone who was apart in making this, which I am sure was a ground breaking film in that time."
Oh man, this movie. For what's it's worth, I'll just say right off the bat that no matter what, this was, is, and always will be a film worthy of serious thought and discussion, and that's one of the biggest compliments I can give to it or any movie.
The story is one about interracial love. Dr. John Prentice is a successful, kind, and sensitive African American who, depsite only knowing her for 10 days, has fallen in love with a nice young white girl girl named Joey Drayton. His parents are working class, or at least were. Her parents are wealthy upper class old line liberals. The plot of the movie concerns John and Joey going to see her parents to tell them of their intentions to marry as soon as they can due to his demanding schedule, and of course, their approval.
The movie examines various perspectives concerning the issue of interracial marriage, whichwhen the film was being made was illegal in 17 states. Within several months that was no longer the case, but the time period was still rife with tensions as the country was dealing with Civil Rights and Vietnam. The film is dated to an extent, even though in some places the central issue of the film is actually still cause for some concern. Modern audiences however, would proably have more of an issue with the fact that John and Joey have only known each other for 10 days though.
The film is to be commended for at least treating the subject seriously and in a dramatic manner, though there is some humor here and there to keep the film from being too heavy and pretentious. The writing does have some faults, such as John being presented as pretty much flawless and maybe a tad Uncle Tomish (maybe to make the film more comfortable for white audiences), and their love is shown as pure and chaste, but it does touch upon black on black racism, even if the film really comes off as more about white guilt, oh, and the ending.
The film does play it safe at times, but that's mostly the hindsight talking. I understand that this was a risky film when it came out, and I'm thankful it was made to begin with. Where this film shines and is at its best is with the acting. This is the strongest part of the film. There's an overflow of monologues here, but the dialogues are engaging and well done. Poitier is really good as Prentice though, as I mentioned, his character is maybe too perfect. Katherine Houghton is really good as Joey, I loved Isabel Sanford as the Drayton's black maid who really sticks it to John. Everyone usually makes the boiggest deal though about Hepburn and Tracy. This was their final film together, and his final film period (he died 17 days after filming wrapped). During his final monologue, the tears in Hepburn's eyes were real as both she and him knew that because of his poor health, this would be the last work he'd ever do. The final scene is powerful and moving enough as is, but this knowledge makes it even more so.
This is an entertaining film, and it tries to do something and say something, but I really had a hard time with it, mostly because I was watching it (and am reviewing it) with two different mindsets (scholar studying black history and regular film fan) running simultaneously, thus my opinion about it is mixed, though I'm trying to find a middle ground.
For those reasons, and the reasons I've lsited throughout this review, I gotta be fair and gve this one a straight B. I do encourage you to see it, but I do think that it could have been better, no matter how risky it was back then. Like I said, at least it got made in the first place.
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