I know this may seem weird for a person who was not even born when these movies came out but I love classic films. There are some performances that even if the film is dated are measured above the rest. One such movie is called “Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner?” Is it old, yes. Dated, just a little. Still an important film: absolutely. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.
Taking place in 1967, also when the film was released, a young woman Joanna (Katharine Houghton) brings home her fiance to meet her parents Christina and Matt Drayton (Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.) Seems pretty simple right, not so back in then. Joanna’s fiance Dr. John Wayde Prentice is African American (Sidney Poitier.) Now despite the fact they have taught their daughter the importance of equal rights, Christina and Matt are shocked their daughter would choose to marry a black man; not to mention John’s decision to not marry Joanna if her parents disapprove of their marriage. Just when things could not get more complicated John’s parents join the dinner each with mixed reactions of the impending marriage. There was a sort of remake in 2005 with Guess Who staring Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac but there can only be one great movie about such a sensitive topic.
First off I have sort of a connection with Katharine Hepburn. She was my mother’s favorite actresses, not a bad choice if I may say so myself. I have to say that, she is the reason why I’m named who I am. As for her performance in this film she did phenomenally. Her character Christina was the first to come around to the idea of Joanna’s and John’s marriage after a co-worker says she should be horrified by Joanna, said co-worker was fired. Her on-screen husband, and off screen lover Spencer Tracy in my opinion gave the finest performance of his career; sadly it would be the last performance of his career as he passed away two weeks after the film had wrapped up. Katharine Houghton, Hepburn’s niece does a spectacular job as the level headed Joanna determined to follow her heart where John goes. Of course I cannot forget Sidney Poitier probably the greatest African American actor of all time. This was not his first role where his character had a race issue and it certainly was not his last, but John has character development in this film, look past race and confronts his father on his disapproval with an iconic line from the film “You think of yourself as a colored man. I think of myself as a man.” Deep isn’t it.
Spencer Tracy’s Matt was the last to come around to the relationship; his final speech gives hope to not just then but even now for interracial couples. Back then in many states marriage between races was illegal, but this film gave those in the same situation hope that one day things would chance. Is it perfect, no not even close but this is why films like “Guess Who Is Coming to Dinner” and the upcoming film”Loving” were made to give people hope that change does happen it just takes a little time and a lot of love. This film is one of the greatest of all time; I suggest putting this on a movie bucket list if the time is right. It will make you laugh, cry and think.