Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

Director: Stanley Kramer
Starring: Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn

Synopsis:
A white couple's liberal attitudes are put to the test when their daughter announces her engagement to a black doctor.

Impressions:
This is a fairly interesting take on Hollywood approaching the issue of race relations at the height of the Civil Rights Era. You've got three heavyweights of cinema in the form of Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier. (I also thought Roy Glenn as Mr. Prentice and Isabel Sanford as Tillie were quite good.) There's some controversy around it and not for the reasons you might think. While I like the film, I have to admit that it sets an unrealistic scenario and unreasonable circumstances that hurt the overall message. You'd think race would be the big issue and the movie is tailored in an attempt to make it the only issue, but that's not the case. Poitier's character is crafted to be very nearly perfect to strip away almost any objection you could have except his race (though I personally was offended by his disrespectful treatment of his own father, but I suppose that rounds his character a bit). However, you've got a significant age difference for one thing. The two have only known each other for ten days and they're demanding immediate approval so they can be married before he goes off to Geneva. You take all this and you're supposed to buy that it's just a race thing for Matt Drayton to have reservations? True, there are signs that he may not be as wholly "enlightened" as he's expected to be, but there's an unfairly stacked deck for the conclusions we're supposed to draw. It reminds me a bit of Father of the Bride, which I also thought was unfair, but maybe that's just love and marriage for you. Still, for the flaws in the setup, I'd like to think the movie could at least serve as a conversation starter. It's Spencer Tracy's last performance and that alone is reason enough to warrant attention. I have my issues with it, but I definitely think it needs to be seen.

Rating:
Watch It


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