Tuesday, June 8, 2010
No. 99: Guess Who's Coming To Dinner
Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967)
Starring: Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier
Director: Stanley Kramer
Awards/Honors: Two Oscars, including Best Actress for Hepburn
Groundbreaking: what comes to mind? Revolutionary ideas, new technology, zombies bursting out of the ground? Well, maybe not the last one, that’s just for you horror movie buffs. Back on topic. Being the movie freak I proudly am, when I think groundbreaking, I think movies.
When Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner came out in 1967, its controversial plot made it the epitome of groundbreaking. The story centers around an interracial couple, John and Joanna (Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton) who meet, spend ten days together, and fall madly in love. They go back to Joanna’s home in San Francisco to get her parents’ (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn) consent to marry. After some hesitation, her mother agrees. Her father? Not so much. John’s parents learn of their plans and also disagree with the marriage. Guess who’s coming to dinner? Everyone!
The families meet, and prejudice comes out from both sides. The final question: will bigotry triumph and prevent the marriage, or can everyone look past their differences and see what really matters? Watch it and find out.
I was a little hesitant about this movie. I had never seen the whole thing, and had heard many different reviews. However, after watching it there’s only one possible conclusion: this movie is really good. And very sad. But really good!
One reason it’s sad is the inside story. Tracy and Hepburn had worked together for years, and had been living together for a long time. During the filming, it was clear that Tracy was very ill, and this might be their last film together.
There’s a scene they do together in the movie that literally brought tears to my eyes: John’s mother is trying to convince Spencer Tracy’s character to consent to John and Joanna’s marriage. He’s opposed, but she eventually persuades him by saying he doesn’t get it, because he’s not in love anymore, and he doesn’t understand how the young couple feels. He responds by giving an impassioned speech about how he may not know much, but he is still deeply in love with his wife, and he understands how the couple feels. (He also gives them his consent.) While he’s speaking, tears pour down Hepburn’s cheeks, and you can tell she’s crying for real. It made me start sobbing too.
In short, if you like:
*Tear-jerking background stories
*Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s screen team
*Awesome 60’s décor and fashion
…then you’ll like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Watch it!
Movie no. 98, coming up soon. Unforgiven (1992) directed by Clint Eastwood. Oh no! Not sure I’m prepared for that much blood and violence. If I haven’t fainted, come back and read about it.