Saturday, March 10, 2012
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (40th Anniversary Edition)
Number 99 on the 1998 AFI List of the 100 Best American Films
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a 1967 American drama film starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn, and featuring Hepburn's niece Katharine Houghton. The film was groundbreaking for its positive representation of the controversial subject of interracial marriage, which historically had been illegal in most states of the United States, and was still illegal in 17 states, mostly Southern states, up until June 12 of the year of the film's release, when anti-miscegenation laws were struck down by the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia. The film was produced and directed by Stanley Kramer and written by William Rose. The movie's Oscar-nominated score was composed by Frank DeVol.
The film is notable for being the ninth and final on-screen pairing of Tracy and Hepburn (filming ended just seventeen days before Tracy's death). Hepburn never saw the completed film; she said the memories of Tracy were too painful. The film was released in December 1967, six months after his death.
* Spencer Tracy as Matt Drayton
* Sidney Poitier as Dr. John Prentice
* Katharine Hepburn as Christina Drayton
* Katharine Houghton as Joanna "Joey" Drayton
* Cecil Kellaway as Monsignor Ryan
* Beah Richards as Mrs. Prentice
* Roy E. Glenn as Mr. Prentice
* Virginia Christine as Hilary St.George
* Alexandra Hay as Carhop
* Isabel Sanford as Matilda "Tillie" Binks
* Barbara Randolph as Dorothy
* D'Urville Martin as Frankie
* Tom Heaton as Peter
* Grace Gaynor as Judith
* Skip Martin as Delivery Boy
* John Hudkins as Cab Driver
* Jacqueline Fontaine as Singer (uncredited)
The film tells the story of Joanna "Joey" Drayton (Katharine Houghton), a young white woman who has had a whirlwind romance with Dr. John Prentice (Sidney Poitier), a young, idealistic black physician she met while in Hawaii. The plot centers on Joanna’s return to her liberal upper-class American home in San Francisco, bringing her new fiancé to dinner to meet her parents (newspaper publisher Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy), perhaps a Hearst characterization, and his wife, small art gallery owner Christina Drayton (Katharine Hepburn)).
Brought up by her parents as a liberal, Joanna finds it difficult to comprehend the behavior of her parents on meeting John. While they taught her to treat blacks and members of other racial groups as equals, they cannot accept their daughter's actions for they did not expect her to introduce to them a black man as their future son-in-law. John's parents (Roy E. Glenn, Beah Richards) fly up from Los Angeles to the Draytons' dinner but don't know that Joanna is white until they meet her. Monsignor Ryan (Cecil Kellaway), a senior Catholic priest friend of Matt, is also present at dinner and is a voice for tolerance.
The film depicts the reaction of family and friends, the discomfort of her parents, and also of John's father, a retired postal carrier, as they all try to accept the choice of Joanna and John. The film also touches on black-on-black racism when John is taken to task by his father and the household cook (Isabel Sanford) for his perceived presumption. Unbeknown to Joey, John conditions the marriage as dependent upon the approval of Matt, whose decision in turn faces a deadline dependent on John's tight airline flight schedules.