Movie #76 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
(1967, US, d. Stanley Kramer)
Let me say it: it wasn’t as good as the hype. After watching To Sir, With Love, I was expecting a whole lot from Sidney Poitier and this film, especially. However, I mostly got something that felt…safe. Obviously, I have to put the film into the context of the time it was produced and in 1967, this was anything but safe. But given the benefit of hindsight, I’d say the writers almost found the loophole to make race the only obstacle in the film. Let me explain. Poitier’s character is Dr. John Prentice, an internationally acclaimed doctor and a well-to-do man who travels from country to country, ocean across ocean, and people to people, saving lives and delivering lectures. Naturally, the only thing the parents could have qualms with is his color, when in reality, education, career, and the amount one gives back to society is as much rooted in the issue of race as is the color of skin, itself. On the contrary, however, given the year the film was released and the fact that inter-racial marriage was legalized in the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia just a few months before, the film does make the point that we should judge based solely on the content of the character rather than the color of the skin, which is a point I, of course, agree on but just wish they could have done without making Mr. Prentice a male Mother Teresa, but just a regular guy. I mentioned earlier it wasn’t Poitier’s performance that got me, though there were two actors in the film who stole every scene. Mr. and Mrs. Drayton (played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, respectively) were performed very well. Hepburn, in particular, was flawless, her arc was beautiful, and when she fired her employee/friend for making fun of the couple, you could see Mother/Great Actress/Badass all at once… just in her eyes.