Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Old-line liberals Matt and Christina Drayton (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn) have raised their daughter Joey (Katharine Houghton) to think for herself and not blindly conform to the conventional. Still, they aren't prepared for the shock when she returns home from a vacation with a new fiancé: African-American doctor John Prentice (Sidney Poitier). While they come to grips with whatever prejudices they might still harbor, the younger folks must also contend with John's parents (Roy Glenn Sr. and Beah Richards), who are dead-set against the union. To complicate matters, the older couple's disapproving maid (Isabel Sanford) and Christina's bigoted business associate (Virginia Christine) put in their two cents' worth. While Joey is determined to go ahead with the wedding no matter what people think, John refuses to consider marriage until he receives the unqualified approval of all concerned. The closing monologue delivered by Spencer Tracy turned out to be the last scene ever played by the veteran film luminary, who died not long after the production. The film was a success in the racially volatile year of 1967 and was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won for Hepburn and screenwriter William Rose.
Classics , Comedy , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Columbia Pictures Corporation

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Spencer Tracy
as Matt Drayton
Katharine Hepburn
as Christina Drayton
Sidney Poitier
as John Prentice
Katharine Houghton
as Joey Drayton
Cecil Kellaway
as Minsignor Ryan
Beah Richards
as Mrs. Prentice
Virginia Christine
as Hilary St. George
Alexandra Hay
as Carhop
Tom Heaton
as Peter
Grace Gaynor
as Judith
Skip Martin
as Delivery Boy
John Bear Hudkins
as Cab Driver
Roy E. Glenn Sr.
as Mr. Prentice
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Critic Reviews for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (5)

A disaster on all counts -- its time, if it ever had one, has definitely passed.

Full Review… | November 7, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A wishy-washy, sanctimonious plea for tolerance, directed with Kramer's customary verbosity and stodginess.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A most delightfully acted and gracefully entertaining film.

Full Review… | May 8, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Examines its subject matter with perception, depth, insight, humor and feeling

Full Review… | February 13, 2001
Top Critic

Initially breezy without ever sacrificing any of its points, the picture eventually resorts to a series of static speeches. Luckily, the actors carry the day, particularly Sidney Poitier, Cecil Kellaway and, taking MVP honors, Spencer Tracy.

Full Review… | September 12, 2015
Creative Loafing

Audience Reviews for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Representing the swan song of Spencer Tracy and solidifying Sidney Poitier's resume, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner is an examination of the changes going on during the mid to late 1960's. The film has a very basic premise in which young Joey (Katherine Houghton) comes home from a trip to Hawaii with John Prentice (Poitier) to meet her parents (Tracy and Katherine Hepburn). What follows is the conflicted feelings that go along with the changing times of the 1960's. John will not marry Joey without the consent of her parents. Her parents are unsure about giving consent, not due to their own racism, but due to the fear of how difficult their life will be as an interracial couple. Added in are the two cents of everyone around the family. True, this can be a comedy at times, but it's more a look at the old guard facing the new guard. Directed by the legendary Stanley Kramer, the film represents a kind of social experiment. Let's drop '60's progressivism on the nuclear family of the 1950's (although the privileged life of the Drayton's is far from nuclear). The Drayton's are not conservative minded individuals, but very left leaning. Still, they fear for their daughter and how that current state of the world would react to them. Tracy delivers his final performance with a flourish and considering his death was imminent brings even greater power to his role. Add to the fact that this is one final pairing with Katherine Hepburn makes it even more bitter sweet. Hepburn also mesmerizes on the screen as the mother giddy over her daughter's upcoming nuptials, yet fearful at the same time. Once again Poitier proves that he is one of the greatest actors of this era, a witty and likeable presence that thinks things out for the protection of others. The only real negative of the film is Houghton's performance as Joey, which comes across as very snotty and annoying. Whether it was written this way or not, you can almost feel like maybe John would be better of with not being tied to her in some instances. I asked myself a question while watching this film. Have we moved forward in the last half century compared to our ideals? In some ways we have. Interracial marriage is not illegal in seven states, as the film reminds us. There's very little stigma related to it anymore, other than the old school and uneducated. The thing is that it feels like where we have progressed as a society, we're still slipping in other areas. To avoid making this review an ideology discussion I'll stop there. Guess Who's Coming To Dinner is a time capsule of the '60's and represents one of the greatest psychological battles of all time. When your ideals come home how are you going to react?

Chris Garman
Chris Garman

Super Reviewer

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.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Pontificating, pretentious film. It's so fantasy it's crazy.

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

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