"Civil rights is one thing. This here is somethin' else."
So, this was not the dramatic “In-your-face-hate-fest” that I was expecting coming in. As a matter of fact, this whole movie it was not quite what I expected coming in, but it was everything it should be. Post release criticism, and behind-the-scenes drama aside, this is another one of the films in my new movie journey that will not get as many eyes as it needs to unfortunately. Let me just say, that once the movie started settling in and the plot began to unravel, there were some things that came to light that I didn’t see coming. I didn’t realize how much older Sidney Poitier was than Katherine Houghton. In the story, the white girl bringing home her fiancé is 23, and the black fiancé is 37. I’m sure that might have been an area for concern back in this late 60s setting. Im not certain how america dealt with gaps in age, back in those days. Let’s talk about Sydney for a minute; I understand there’s an argument that could be made for his character being a little too perfect for any cautious parent to turn away. I mean,the guy is a powerhouse Doctor, who has accomplished so much, and has a resume longer than I don’t know what. It’s hard to want to say no to that, isn’t it?
With regards to the parents featured in the movie, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy both knocked it out of the park. Additionally, researching that year best actress category for the Oscars, I think it’s fair to say that Hepburn more than deserve her Best Actress Award. I’ve come to understand that Faye Dunaway, who was in the recently watched Bonnie and Clyde, was also nominated that year. However, as I mentioned in my review for Bonnie and Clyde I did not care for her, overall. I had never heard of the directors Stanley Kramer before watching this movie. Although, after doing a little bit of research after the fact, I’ve come to learn that he was quite an influential filmmaker on many fronts, and made a lot of films with Messages. I recognize most people don’t like messages and their films, and simply want to be entertained. However, I think cinema is a powerful artform and should most certainly be used as a vehicle for relaying messages and commenting on society. It’s hard to believe that at the time of the release of this movie, interracial marriages were illegal in 16 of 50 states.
It’s clear to see that this movie was a game changer on numerous fronts, for obvious reasons, including being the first time we we a black man kiss a white woman on screen and served to start a dialogue between all Americans, black, white or otherwise. I honestly feel that the performances throughout the film were tour de force, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is a film that needs to be seen by all. If not, American Cinema deserves a remake better than the 2005 one we got with Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher. Sadly, I find it a bittersweet notion that a story of that nature would not have as much weight today, seeing as how American society has come along way with regards to his views on interracial relationships and marriage. Maybe it’s that very notion that lessens the weight of this movie that is well over 50 years old, now. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner comes highly recommended for fans of Sydney Poitier, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, movies with social commentary, films that touch on the subject of interracial marriage, and classic cinema in general. Despite some of the lackluster camera work that plays out more like a stage production, It is a Ricky Nixx film.
Director: Stanley Kramer
Writer: William Rose
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn