ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE: BEST PICTURE
The interracial marriage of a black man and a young white woman tests the boundaries of their parents’ enthusiasm for racial tolerance. [ Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner credits: Dir: Stanley Kramer/ Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Sidney Poitier/ 108 min/ Drama/ Social Tolerance]
Father: “I happen to believe — I happen to know they wouldn’t have a dog’s chance, not in this country, not in the whole stinking world!” Friend: “They are this country, Matt. They’ll change this stinking world.” And that’s what this film is about: voluntary social change leading to a more tolerant world, each generation building on the improvements of the last.
As the film begins, the daughter of a pair of white, liberal parents has just brought home a black man whom she intends to marry. These parents have preached racial tolerance all their lives, and in fact have preached it so well that their daughter is entirely unprejudiced. However, now that they are faced with the possibility of her actually marrying a black man, they’re not sure they want it to happen.
The father in particular is worried about the daughter having to live her life on the cutting edge of social change, as part of a mixed-race couple. The key question to be resolved: can this protective Dad be convinced their marriage will be a success despite the unfairness and prejudice of the world?
The case presented here is made black and white, as it were, by portraying the interracial lovebirds as perfect — a scrupulously polite, highly accomplished black physician on the one hand, and a rich, beautiful, educated, young white woman on the other. There can be no legitimate objection to their union.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is one of those cinematic landmarks in the evolution toward social tolerance. When it was made, interracial marriages were not only rare and shocking but also illegal in nearly a third of the United States.
It’s a thoroughly enjoyable film as well, thanks to a great script, an inspired performance by Sidney Poitier, and the magic of Hepburn and Tracy in this, their last picture together. The action takes place almost entirely inside one house, so it’s really more like watching a play than a typical movie, but it’s a good play. This film won two Academy Awards.
“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is a most delightfully acted and gracefully entertaining film.”
–New York Times