Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) Poster

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A 50 year old dinner - Still warm
maureenmcqueen25 September 2017
I went to see it for the first time with my grandmother when I was 17. I loved it but it felt strange to me because my grandmother after 22 years of widowhood, had remarried to an African American man. He had become a blessing in my grandmother's life and in ours. How could Spencer Tracy of all people be against the union? After the movie we went to dinner and my grandmother answered all my questions with a single answer that's been with me always and that sometimes explains absurdities like Charlottesville 2017 - "Society, humanity doesn't evolve all at the same time" Of course Grandma', you were right. Watching Guess Who's Coming To Dinner in 2017 was an experience. Is not that Spencer Tracy is against their union, - Tracy was only worried to what his daughter was going to face 1967 - He was thinking like a father and not like a thinking, evolved liberal. On the other hand, Roy Glenn, Sidney Poitier's father objects to his son marrying a white girl. Sidney Poitier stops him by saying "Dad, you see yourself as a colored man, I see myself as a man" Was it as didactic as it sounds in 1967? Who cares? The message was delivered - I also was so moved to see Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy together for the last time and they knew it was for the last time. Sidney Poitier is superb as the messenger who points at the absurdity of racism. Guess Who's Coming To Dinner is a delicious document of its day.
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Liberal Angst over Interractial Relationship in the 1960s
oneflighthoop7 May 2005
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner takes place during the course of one day as two families struggle to overcome their concerns about the interracial marriage of their children. This film is a treat for the eyes with lovely sets and beautiful people. It also has a nice 1960's feel that is reinforced by sophisticated wardrobing and an "easy listening" soundtrack--featuring The Glory of Love as the signature tune. The film relies very heavily on the use of dialog and reflects the elegance of a time when people were entertained by stimulating conversation. The San Francisco backdrop also is the perfect setting for a movie that challenged racial convention.

But there are a few serious flaws. This is an introductory role for Katharine Houghton (Hepburn's niece) who plays Sidney Portier's fiancé--Johanna Drayton. Her inexperience is apparent, particularly in comparison to heavyweights Portier, Tracy and Hepburn and as a result, she is unconvincing in the part. Moreover, her character is not well-written or well-developed which makes it difficult to understand why Sidney Portier's character--John Prentice-would fall in love with a woman who appears to have so little to offer intellectually --given his significant professional achievements as a doctor. One also must ask why it was necessary for his character to be cast as a doctor in order to be seen as an acceptable partner for a young white woman who had not really accomplished anything accept being born into a privileged family. The answer is simple. Making Prentice a doctor-and not just any doctor-but a world renowned expert in tropical medicine, made the interracial relationship more acceptable to white audiences during the 1960s.

The other cast members are outstanding and the on-screen chemistry phenomenal. Katharine Hepburn (Christina Drayton) and Spencer Tracy (Newspaper Publisher Matt Drayton) deliver brilliant performances as Johanna's parents. John Prentice's modest working class parents are played with great dignity by Beah Richards and Roy E. Glen. Mrs. Prentice and Mrs. Drayton favor the marriage and both characters provide passionate, articulate arguments as to why their husbands should agree. But their husbands voice serious objections and the families spend the evening in intense discussions over the issue, accurately reflecting the racial fears that existed 40 years ago. Prentice's father reminds him that in many states interracial marriage is illegal and that he is "getting out of line." There are also a number of very memorable and funny lines. In the scene in which Matt Drayton wonders why "the colored kids dance better than the white kids", Portier's response is classic--"you dance the Watusi, but we are the Watusi!"(For readers under 40, the Watusi was a popular dance in the 1960s and also an African tribe). Cecil Kelloway, who plays friend of the family, Monsignor Ryan, deftly brings a sense of humor and moral guidance that is effective because it is not "preachy". He challenges Matt Drayton's liberal credentials and suggests that Drayton's misgivings about his daughter marrying a black man reveal his hypocrisy. Isabel Sanford ("Weezy from The Jeffersons TV program) plays the feisty maid of the Draytons.

It's been said that in the final scene Tracy--who was very ill at the time and who died shortly after the movie was completed--delivered one of the longest soliloquies in American film history, in only one take. Katherine Helpurn was clearly so moved by the scene that it's hard to believe that she is just acting as her eyes brim with tears.

Although the some of the sentiments are dated, this film is highly entertaining, and provides a rare opportunity to experience outstanding performances from six gifted actors who bring compassion and depth to Stanley Kramer's film. Its' angst relative to interracial marriage also reminds us of how far we have not come.
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Surprisingly fresh for a thirty year old, and still relevant
ToldYaSo9 May 1999
Seeing this film for the first time more than thirty years after it was made, I was struck by the theme's endurance in time. It remains relevant today, even if not to the same degree. And even though I'm almost thirty years old, I can say with mixed emotions of embarrassment and vindication, that Spencer Tracy taught me a better way to tie a tie. Who's says movies don't teach you anything?

The film is dated, to be sure, by many things, from clothing to music, cars and expressions. At times the dialogue seemed a bit hokey, and others, simply brilliant. I swear, I half expected an entourage of go-go dancers to spontaneously burst through the streets of San Francisco. And if I never hear the "Story Of Love" ever again in my life, it would be too soon.

But I can't help but think that the more things change in thirty years, sometimes they remain the same. Certainly there's more examples of interracial couples today than thirty years ago, and therefore a greater degree of tolerance, but for a lot of narrow-minded individuals, it's still as controversial or "appalling" as it was thirty years ago.

Some of the lines actually had me laughing out loud, enjoying the moment as it follows into another well complimented scene. I'm speaking in particular of the scene where Katharine Hepburn fires her employee for her prejudicial views, and basically everything that follows that scene for the next five minutes.

I try my best to imagine what it would be like to be in the shoes of any character in the film, to appreciate what it might've been like for them, in that time, and while I think I can muster an inkling, I don't think my creativity is up to a challenge of that nature. And I think that ultimately, that's a good thing, and I'm grateful to those who came before.
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One of the must see movies of all time...
Scooter012327 November 2005
Here's a great way to spend an afternoon: watching some of the greatest actors of all time in a film that still has relevance today. Such a cast! Hepburn is wonderful as always, very energetic, with no trace of the shakiness of her later years.

Tracy, gruff, the way most probably remember him - sort of a ratcheted up version of the roles he played with Hepburn in earlier years. His ill health is obvious though to the careful observer: voice a little weak at times, and Tracy's step missing the "spring" of his earlier films. The fact that this his last film was so memorable, and of such quality just adds to his legend.

Potier of course turns in a great performance, impeccable as always.

Watch for Isabel Sanford, ("The Jefferson's") particularly the one memorable scene where she explains to Potier's character just what "black power" really is.

Cecil Kellaway sparkles as Monsignor Ryan, and Beah Richards and Roy Glenn, as the parents to Potier's character, mirror Hepburn and Tracy.

Indeed, there is so much real honest-to-god acting talent concentrated in this movie, it seems almost unfair, what I'm about to say: Katharine Houghton, as 'Joey' is the only character with only 2 dimensions. She's the ever-smiling, but clueless daughter and object of Dr. Prentice' affection. She's such a Pollyanna, and remains oblivious to the drama going on all around her, and everyone else conspires to keep her in the dark throughout the entire film. (No wonder her father is concerned.) I think it's fair to say that Houghton's character is the one weak spot in this otherwise excellent film.

That said, this is a wonderful film that I will always watch when it comes on. It's such a treat to watch these legendary actors at work. I highly recommend it.

By the way, there's no glass in Spencer's eyeglasses during the ending monologue, is there – he's wearing only frames, right?
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Another Spencer Tracy Triumph
dsnazel14 October 1999
It's so easy to criticize this film. The soundtrack from DeVol is *awful*. The film is incredibly dated and there are some scenes, (the scene with the delivery boy and the ice cream shop), that are unbearable, like something out of a Gidget film.

Of course the other problem with this film, 33 years after its production, is who in the year 2000, would be upset about their daughter marrying a Yale educated Doctor?

However, despite all this, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a great film. The film is wonderful because it was the last film made by one of Hollywood's greatest duos, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

This film was made while Spencer Tracy was dying. Spencer had to put his entire salary in escrow in order for the film company to allow him to do the film.

So why did Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy agree to do this film, without immediate payment? Because it's a film about forbidden love, it's a film about loving someone no matter what society thinks, or what the rules are. This is something Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn knew a great deal about.

What makes this film outstanding is, by the end of the film you realize, Kate and Spencer are not even acting they are relaying their feelings about each other, through the film. Once you catch that, the drama of the final few scenes is just unparalleled and Spencer's final speech, about his love for Kate (Christina), can drive even the most twisted soul to tears.

A few things to catch in this film, watch Kate's face when Spencer recites the line, 'screw what the rest of the world thinks about your love'...those are real tears. Watch Spencer Tracey as he paces back and forth on the terrace near the end of the film. He realizes he is about to begin one of the last scenes he will ever film. He's line 'well I'll be a son of a bitch' more a realization he's about to make his last grandstand on the big screen, in his entire career.

Spencer Tracy is one of America's greatest actors. This is his last triumph. For that reason alone, it's a true cinematic treasure.
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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is unforgettable memory of interracial marriage
Hmaziba6 May 2017
Marriage is all about the one you love, it does not matter the race. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, according to Stanley Kramer, he portray the interracial marriage and show the idealism of two couple difference racial. Therefore, the movie itself does not give a chance for the couple to know their love, for-example there is only one shot that shows lips of Dr. Prentice and Joanna meet together. However, in 1960s it was a period political movements of racial segregation, though it was lawful for interracial marriage. Eventually, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, came on the prep time and when the couple plan to meet there future in-laws they believe it might be difficult for the family to accept there relationship. Nevertheless, Acting was very amazing accompany by Katherine Hepburn, Tracy Spencer, Katherine Houghton and Sidney Poitier. Moreover, the movie was very successful on cultural influence and as a results of today's interracial marriage.
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Good movie
weegeeworld17 January 2005
I feel sorry for John Seal, the reviewer above, for his views on this movie, as well as his views on interracial marriage. I think this movie is excellent, I enjoyed the performances of all the actors and the message is important. Racial prejudice was common in 1967, and the very first interracial kiss on TV was still to come (it happened in 1969 on Star Trek). People needed to hear the message this movie contains, that color and race are not something that should prevent two people who love each other from marrying. I am a white American married to a Japanese female and I am proud that our children will grow up to live in a world where people have tolerance for different cultures and beliefs. It is sad to watch Spencer Tracy in this movie, knowing he died weeks after it was made. But it was nice that he could act with Katherine Hepburn, the love of his life, so close to his death. That must have made him happy.
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Spencer and Kate, One Last Time
nycritic7 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
People have, over the years, accused this film of making Sidney Poitier's character so flawless beyond a reasonable doubt that there would be no other way to accept his impending marriage (in the movie) to Katharine Houghton without making it a racial issue. The thing is, most people forget -- had Poitier been just a regular guy who had a less than stellar job, and been less than beautiful, this story would have ended up in the recycling bin. Just as gay people or Hispanics today, in order to create positive stories about themselves, have to idealize their characters to a god-like level, the same thing had to be done back then. And it was also appropriate to have not one, but two confrontation scenes: one with Poitier and Roy Glenn -- father and son -- and one with Beah Richards and Spencer, more subtle but equally poignant. GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER is a film that resonated back then despite its deadline plot and tidy ending because it came at the right time and needed a positive resolution. I doubt audiences back then would respond to any other. Although it would not shock me if people then would be thinking Hollywood had finally lost its edge with this one. It was a keen decision to have Kate and Spencer be the leads because in doing so they were assuring not only box-office draw -- people would be returning to watch their favorite unmarried couple bicker, lovingly, yet again -- but a strong statement. After all, these two have the biggest subtext in the entire film: they had had their own iconoclastic relationship, it was coming to a close, and one only had to see Kate's expression just to a side of Spence's shoulder as he gave his closing speech. She was sitting at the right of the screen, her eyes glistening with tears, feeling the time was close, knowing just how much they loved each other even to the end. On this element only -- the final, lingering shot of Kate and Spence embracing each other, getting ready for dinner and an uneasy future, GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER is perfect.
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Everyone deserves a seat at the dinner table
Kingslaay21 April 2017
Guess who's coming to dinner is a first class film. It focuses on the subject of interracial marriage and the challenges that can arise. Set in the 1960s, this was definitely topical.

We are treated to first class acting from Sidney Poitier who is arguable one of the greatest and most dignified actors to grace the screen. Great performances from Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn who play shocked and concerned parents. This film also focused on the important issue of walking the talk, righteous people who preach certain ways of living but we see it put to the test when they themselves are in that situation. The parents who raised a unbiased and open minded daughter must deal with her choices.

Spencer Tracey's speech to his daughter and Sidney is one of the best in film. He passes on an important message of understanding and righteousness to not just his daughter and son in law to be but the rest of America watching. A showcase of brilliant acting and messages in a film that was ahead of its time.
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A stacked deck (with a FABULOUS view)
TooShortforThatGesture20 October 2004
Hmmm. I'm torn about this movie but I guess overall I find it too out of balance to work as other than as an historical piece.

The things I like about it? The sound-stage version of an outrageous San Francisco home. (A bridge to bridge view from the patio, which is not to be confused with the separate garden. Filled with expensive art. If such a place existed what would it cost today? $10 million? $15 million - but when the parents go out for ice cream they drive what would be a sort of old looking small to mid-sized car. Ah, Hollywood!) Seeing Isobel Sanford in something that doesn't involve Sherman Helmsley. Katharine Hepburn going through four slightly-oddball costumes over about 9 hours of movie time. (And what is with her and her choice of hats?!?) The bizarro, off-kilter scene with the dancing delivery boy.

The things I don't like? Well first and foremost the fact that this movie is set up so as to eliminate any sense of the REAL complexities of life. Poitier's character is not just a great guy, he is a physician. Wait, no ... not just a physician but one who has been on the faculty of some of the best medical schools...AND who has devoted his career to public health AND who is internationally well-known. Gosh, you think, is there ANY white man that Joanna might ever meet who could be as well-credentialled as him? And Joanna, we are told, has always been HAPPY!!! as a baby, as a child, as a teen, in college. Why, she's just the most perfect thing. Her parents? Unabashed liberals. Generous and kind to the help (even giving a $5000 bonus to an employee being fired.) His parents? Sober and hard-working. Sacrificing for their son. Kind and loving.

Wouldn't it be nice to see at least one of the parents being SOMEWHAT unpleasant?

Kramer just sets things up in a way where there is no real tension in the movie. We know Tracy and Hepburn's characters are too good to turn into bigots and that they are such great parents that their daughter's happiness is all that will matter. They may be friends with a Catholic monseigneur (though a point is made to say at least twice that they aren't Roman Catholics, what's that about?) but he is the most liberal happy-go-lucky priest that existed in the 1960's and raises not a single objection to interracial marriage (uncharacteristic of the Irish priests I knew of from the 60s --- but maybe it's because he's so busy drinking Scotch -- if you'll excuse THAT offensive Irish stereotype in a movie about prejudice.)

The look and feel of the movie is a little odd, because of the juxtaposition of real locations (SFO, the ice cream store) with the very "faux" stage set style used in scenes like the driveway in front of the house. For a movie that is supposed to be exploring the gritty reality of racism in America, seeing someone drive a phony delivery truck past the fake plants outside the fake house seems particularly jarring and inappropriate.

And of course, everyone is rich or well-to-do. Even the retired postal worker and his wife can afford to fly up to SF on a last minute airfare (which were even less cheap back in the 1960s than they are today) and, we are assured, can afford to fly to Geneva for the wedding? So ultimately their "problems" about love and marriage seem less important, because we don't really worry that John or Joanna's lives will be seriously crippled if they don't marry --- they are both so VERY charming, successful, self-directed and fulfilled that we know that they would find someone else if it came to that.

(For that matter, no one seems too bothered by the more substantial problem, which is that people who fall in love "in 20 minutes" and plan to marry only weeks after meeting, are quite likely to find themselves unhappily stuck with a person they knew nothing about -- regardless of their color.)

And poor Sydney Poitier, who I think was probably a good actor but seemed to have to sacrifice his talent on the cross of being the first great cross-over black movie actor --- always playing someone who is whiter than the white folks around him, usually better spoken, always smarter, always having to deliver the over-written, didactic speech about how times are changing for the black man, and never allowed to use a contraction in a sentence, lest he sound too ethnic. I find his acting to be terribly mannered most of the time, but I think that is mostly because of the straight-jacket forced on him by the types of roles he played in the 1960s.

So the movie just feels very manufactured --- structured so that every point of view or objection will be raised but rationally batted aside and that -- less than 12 hours after they show up, the couple will head off to Switzerland with a family united behind them and the audience can all leave the theater feeling that love conquers all and dealing with racism is just a matter of having a good conversation over drinks.
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Interracial Marriage in USA in the 60's
claudio_carvalho15 January 2014
After a period of vacation in Hawaii, Joanna "Joey" Drayton (Katharine Houghton) returns to her parents' home in San Francisco bringing her fiancé, the high-qualified Dr. John Prentice (Sidney Poitier), to introduce him to her mother Christina Drayton (Katharine Hepburn) that owns an art gallery and her father Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy) that is the publisher editor of the newspaper The Guardian. Joey was raised with a liberal education and intends to get married with Dr. John Prentice that is a black widower and needs to fly on that night to Geneva to work with the World Health Organization.

Joey invites John's parents Mr. Prentice (Roy E. Glenn Sr.) and Mrs. Prentice (Beah Richards) to have dinner with her family and the couple flies from Los Angeles to San Francisco without knowing that Joey is white. Christina invites also the liberal Monsignor Ryan (Cecil Kellaway), who is friend of her family. Along the day and night, the families discuss the problems of their son and daughter.

"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is a witty dramatic comedy about interracial marriage in the racist USA in the 60's. The theatrical story has magnificent performances and dialogs and has not aged after all these years. This is the last movie of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, who is the aunt of Katharine Houghton, has never seen this movie because of the loss of her friend. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Adivinhe Quem Vem Para Jantar" ("Guess Who's Coming to Dinner")
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One of the best comedies of my collection
hakapes21 May 2005
Although made in 1967, I was surprised how much I loved this movie, from the beginning to the end. This is a kind of a comedy I haven't seen maybe for years.

I felt the characters and the situation so alive and close to me, it is incredible. It remembered me when I had to make that first visit at a girlfriends house, meet the parents, be friendly to some completely unknown people, act as an adult, as a man, when there are four parents around... And there are scenes with a flip I will never forget, like Spencer Tracy eating his ice cream and changing his mind over it, Hilary being fired or the two fathers settling about the situation as 'the only reasonable people in the boat'.

The film also started me to think over how I would react as a parent in such a situation. Today, marriage between races is not that shocking, but I can easily imagine for my future daughter someone, who would shock me with his proposal. It easy to see others on screen struggling to break down their own walls and prejudices, but in real life it is so much harder. It is so true, what Mahatma Ghandi said - 'You must be the change you wish to see in the world'.

It's just a funny twist from life, that I've seen 'Kinsey' a few days ago, where Katharine Houghton also appears as Mrs. Spaulding, almost 40 years later (2005).

This movie became one of my favorites - 10/10.
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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is one of three movies from 1967 that put Sidney Poitier in superstar status
tavm23 February 2011
Continuing to review films featured with people of color in chronological order for Black History Month, we're once again in 1967 with Sidney Poitier's third film in release that year: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Here, he's Dr. John Prentice who, after spending vacation time in Hawaii for 10 days with one Joey Drayton (Katharine Houghton), is engaged to her and is meeting her parents for the first time in San Francisco. They're Christina (Katharine Hepburn) and Matt (Spencer Tracy) and they're both a little shocked when they meet John despite both being liberal people. Christina gets over hers while Matt takes a while. Their maid Tillie (Isabel Sanford) isn't thrilled at all while old friend Monsignor Ryan (Cecil Kellaway) approves and is bemused by all the reactions including those of John's parents (Beah Richards, Roy Glenn) when they arrive. I'll stop there and just say that while I'm sure the whole thing was made to provide such a mostly perfect representation of the black race for public consumption in presenting Poitier's characterization, he's still allowed to be a little human whether talking back a little to his father or saying he'll call off the marriage if his fiancé's parents have any reservations without consulting Joey first. Many of the funniest moments come from Ms. Sanford's Tillie during her outbursts about "black power"! There's also some nice moments concerning Tracy and Hepburn on screen together especially when one knows that this was Spencer's final movie before his death. Why, seeing Ms. Hepburn cry during her longtime loving partner's last speech on set is perhaps the most touching thing here. But let's not cut the lines of Ms. Richards and Mr. Glenn short here. Roy makes the then-pertinent point of how his son and fiancé would be considered criminals in at least 16 states (actually 14 during filming) if their relationship was known. But Beah herself is the one who gets through to Spencer about how both him and her husband seemed to have forgotten what it was like when they themselves were young and impulsive. It's that part that got her the worthy Oscar nomination. In fact, Cecil Kellaway, Ms. Hepburn, and Mr. Tracy all got worthy nods with Hepburn a worthy win (though I admit that with the exception of Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark, I haven't seen the other nominees for Best Actress that year). I'm not so sure about the Best Picture nomination but it's not as embarrassing as that for Doctor Doolittle (though I'm basing that more on reputation since I've yet to see that one in its entirety). In summary, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is still quite entertaining even with the obvious liberal point-of-view. P.S. Two other African-American players worth mentioning are Barbara Randolph (daughter of Lillian Randolph who's in my favorite movie, It's a Wonderful Life) as Dorothy who does a groovy dance with a white delivery guy and D'Urvile Martin who as Frankie gets his car accidentally hit by Spencer's automobile when the latter backs out of an ice cream parlor.
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A great moment of cinema...
Nazi_Fighter_David9 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
While Spencer Tracy was making a fervent plea at the climax of the film, Kramer's camera was moving to a particular shot... His camera was about to impart the flavor, the splendor, the magic of love...

Tracy was pronouncing his 'last' touching words... He was simple, fluent, logic and eloquent in his presentation... His feelings were just part of his real life... Kramer took his profile with the face of Hepburn... Katherine was projecting compassionate eyes, full of tears as to overflow…

We were in a great moment of cinema, of fond tenderness and cherish love between two great super stars... Tracy's words evoked loyalty and compliment to the woman he loved all his life and who was about to leave in few days... Tracy turned to Hepburn with a long look, and Kramer sustained the shot for few seconds with a deliberate silence...

Joey Drayton comes home from a ten-day Hawaiian vacation with the man she loves, John Prentice, a forty-year-old internationally respected Negro doctor… Joey is determined not only to marry him immediately, but to have both sets of parents' blessings… The couple must leave that night for Geneva and the doctor's post with the World Health Organization…

Matt and Christina are extremely likable, intelligent, wealthy, and hard working… He owns and operates a crusading newspaper in San Francisco and she runs an avant-garde art gallery… Now both are faced with a true test of their liberal beliefs… Further tension is introduced when the man's parents fly up from Los Angeles for dinner at the Draytons' and find themselves as shocked and dismayed as the girl's parents…

Sidney Poitier looked charming, refined, civilized, and sophisticated... Katharine Houghton was fresh, innocent, and lovely...

The film won l0 Academy Award Nominations...
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A Great Film, But Possibly the Most Controversial Production Ever.
tfrizzell26 July 2002
Risky film that could only sport the biggest and most respected names in Hollywood at the time. Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton have fallen in love and are all set to get married, but Poitier is African-American and Houghton is white. Get the picture? The couple's parents (Roy Glenn and Oscar-nominee Beah Richards as Poitier's parents and Oscar-winner Katharine Hepburn and Oscar-nominee Spencer Tracy as Houghton's) try to cope with the situation as the two seem determined to be together. Poitier knows the complications while Houghton seems really naive and innocent about the whole situation. Catholic priest Cecil Kellaway (also Oscar-nominated) tries to get the parents to understand what their children are feeling. A film that spawned controversy and more controversy in 1967 and still a film that strikes a nerve in many circles even today. The film just added to the excellence of Hepburn and Poitier while Houghton became more of an outcast in Hollywood. Many say that the movie drove Tracy to an early grave as he died shortly after production and did not even get to hear that he had received an Oscar nod. Stanley Kramer's striking direction and the Oscar-winning screenplay are both right on target. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is a production that tackles interracial relationships in a frank and intriguing manner. The film is not kind to the older generations and it is also not kind to religious figures getting caught up in non-religious affairs. A strong film that stands strong with the other great films of 1967 ("In the Heat of the Night", "Bonnie and Clyde", "The Graduate", "In Cold Blood"). 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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Explores interracial marriage and hidden prejudice, but a ridiculous scenario
roghache24 March 2006
This landmark classic of the 1960's Civil Rights era brought to light the controversial issue of interracial marriage. Its ongoing relevance lies in viewers examining their own hidden prejudices and considering their personal response to an offspring bringing home a fiancé of a different race. While I applaud the theme, it's not at all effectively presented in this absurd situation.

The story revolves around a liberal, upper middle class white couple, Matt Drayton (a newspaper publisher) and Christina Drayton (who owns an art gallery). Their assumed anti racist attitudes are put to the test when their daughter, Joanna, brings home a widowed black doctor, John Prentice, and introduces him as her fiancé. She has met him during a 10 day trip to Hawaii, and they must jet off that very night to Geneva, as he has a post with the World Health Organization in Switzerland. Joanna seeks the blessing of both sets of parents, so John's working class parents from Los Angeles are also invited to dinner. They are no more pleased than the Draytons that their son has chosen a white fiancée, the prejudices operating both ways here. Thus, the memorable dinner party is set up...

The Drayton parents are played by those beloved stars, Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn. Personally, I feel the movie is totally over rated due to a sense of nostalgia for this pair. The film addresses the whole issue of hidden prejudices in those who pride themselves as anti racist. The Drayton couple, who have an African-American maid, are nevertheless very open minded for their day. Christina has even fired an employee because of her prejudiced views. Hepburn is cast in her typical independent, feminist, feisty role as the proudly liberal Mrs. Drayton, whom I personally found irritating with her superior airs.

Personally, I much preferred the ordinary working class Prentice parents to the affluent, fashionably liberal, and agnostic Draytons. I think 1960's audiences would have related better to a more typical white suburban couple from middle America than to this rather atypical pair. How many mothers of that era operated an avant guard art gallery? It might actually have imparted greater depth to the story if these parents had been trying to reconcile their formerly buried, but now surfacing prejudices with the tenants of their faith. A Catholic priest (family friend) does give his opinions on the nuptials, but he's a goofy rather than wise or inspiring character. By the way, is there some implication here that the agnostics of that era were a more enlightened lot than all the religious, church attending Christians?

As for myself, the movie is most notable for the on screen presence of the handsome Sidney Poitier. This is probably his most memorable role as the polite, respectable, well educated fiancé doctor, who has risen above his blue collar roots. The annoying daughter, played by Katharine Houghton, doesn't seem to have much of a role. Even though it's all mainly about the parents, her character could surely have had a little more depth. Skin color notwithstanding, I could hardly picture the perky, clueless, dewy eyed Joanna and her serious, intelligent, older (late 30's), and infinitely more mature fiancé having much in common, now that they've left their tropical Hawaiian paradise and are back in the real world.

My major problem with the film is the hokey, unrealistic drama of it all. The couple must leave for Geneva that very night for their imminent marriage. No time to get accustomed to the fiancé or make plans, all very dramatic. But especially, the whirlwind...and I do mean, whirlwind... ten day courtship. These 'intellectual' parents aren't exhibiting much intelligence in their priorities here. I cannot imagine any parents, now or even back then, more upset with the color of the fiancé's skin (supposing it was purple) than with the fact that their daughter had known him for such an incredibly short period of time...distinguished, Yale educated doctor or not. Balmy tropical nights, swaying palm trees, and tall cool drinks rather than getting acquainted with each other in daily routine life. It's unbelievable, absurd, and outrageous, removing all credibility from the film.

This movie proved dull and disappointing, the scenario totally ridiculous. However, its theme is certainly thought provoking, causing a personal examination of conscience in the viewer. Even though interracial marriage is common and quite acceptable in many (not all) circles today, this is a definitive, though woefully flawed, piece of cinema that put the title phrase in everyone's vocabulary.
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Overlook the "dated" aspect.
yenlo6 July 1999
This film is of course dated in many portions but still remains a powerful motion picture over thirty years after its release. Superb acting and dialog is what overcomes the dated aspect. Hepburn and Tracy are Matt and Christina Drayton a wealthy and successful couple who have a daughter named Joey played by Katherine Houghton who comes home and tells them she has met the man of her dreams. The only problem in the story is that he is of a different race. Sidney Poitier is John Wade Prentice a successful individual who is the man of Joeys dreams and is of the different race. The Draytons are people who in theory hold no prejudice toward any one regardless of their race, color or creed but now have those same views put harshly to the test when it's their own daughter involved. Sort of like the NIMBY philosophy "YES YES build more prisons, build more nuclear power plants, build more missile silos but Not In My BackYard! " Sure I believe in interracial marriage as long as it's not my daughter".

John Wades parents essentially share the same views as the Draytons. However Johns parents particularly his father played by Roy E. Glenn Sr. seems more realistic when speaking to his child about the situation than does Matt Drayton. He tells his son the way it really is and most likely will be. "You'll even be illegal in some states" he reminds his son. The two couples eventually come to grips with the fact that no matter what they say they will not be able to prevent their two children from going through with their plans. Spencer Tracy throughout his film career delivered many powerful lines of dialog. The final moments of this film he delivers perhaps his greatest. Which also turned out to be his last. AFI ranked this film number ninety-nine on their list of top one hundred. Because of it's powerful story and social issue it deserved to be higher. Other films that deal with interracial marriage to see are 1956's GIANT and 1961's Bridge to the Sun.
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"That's the story of....... That's the Glory of Love"
bkoganbing2 March 2006
I wrote a review for IMDb about the film Saratoga which I got some bad criticism for. It was obvious that Jean Harlow was seriously ill making this rather pedestrian film about folks at the racetrack. No serious drama of significance here, why wasn't the poor woman getting medical attention.

Looking at Spencer Tracy it also is obvious he's in pretty bad shape, but he at 67 was two generations older than his co-star Jean Harlow at MGM in their salad days. And this final film of his and final screen partnership with Katharine Hepburn had a lot more of a significant message than Saratoga did. It's enobling in its own way to see how much faith Spencer Tracy had in the project.

Oh, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is certainly dated now. But back in 1967 it was daring enough. Tracy and Hepburn who for the fourth time in their nine films play a husband and wife from the start, get the news that their daughter Katharine Houghton is getting married to an older man who is a widower. Oh and by the way, she's marrying Sidney Poitier who's a doctor.

Getting a doctor for a son-in-law would be reason enough for celebration in most homes, but interracial marriage was still a daring topic. As Roy Glenn who is Poitier's father reminds him, he's still breaking the law in 1967 in about 17 states. The film is about how Tracy and Hepburn and Glenn and his wife Beah Richards deal with the news.

Hepburn won her second Oscar for this film and she's the character on screen most of the time. Her best moment comes when she fires Virginia Christine who works for her and rushes to Hepburn's side to express "concern" for her.

One of the things that made Spencer Tracy the great player he was, was that incredible ability he had to make the audience feel he was listening. My favorite scene of his in the film is when Beah Richards is alone with him on the porch and she compares him with her husband how the two of them have forgotten all about romance. As she speaks the two of them are profiled against the screen, Richards to the left and Tracy to the right. Though Richards is in the foreground your attention is completely on Tracy and is reactions even though we're only seeing half of his face. Stole the scene without speaking a word.

I know so many people who profess liberalism in all things, but never can quite walk the walk when necessary. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is about that, putting your money where your mouth is.

Watching my VHS copy of it again this evening, the scene with Glenn and Poitier brought home something else to me. Just like Poitier and Houghton were illegal back in 1967 in some parts of America, it was only until 2003 that gay people were illegal in and of themselves in several states. And even now same sex couples battle for marriage rights and equality.

Maybe Guess Who's Coming to Dinner isn't quite so dated at that. And maybe Brokeback Mountain is the closest thing that gay people have to a Guess Who's Coming to Dinner right now.

But can you see in a few years a man or a woman bringing home a partner of the same sex to Mom and Dad and announcing they're getting married in Massachusetts?

Now that would be a great film.
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Lives Up To The Hype
gavin694219 September 2012
Matt and Christina Drayton (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn) are a couple whose attitudes are challenged when their daughter brings home a fiancé (Sidney Poitier) who is black.

I had never seen this movie until last night, primarily because I never saw the point. The story seemed so obvious and cliché to me, having grown up decades after the film was released. Of course a family would react poorly when they see the racial difference of their daughter's chosen husband. But, I underestimated the whole thing.

The film is more complex, because as it turns out, the family is not actually racist -- at least not in theory. And this film allows theory to meet practice, which may be harder to overcome than they thought. Luckily, they have the advantage of the black man being a world-renowned doctor. Had he just been any old schmuck, the family might not have been as welcoming. It is a whole different story.

The two things I found most interesting about the film were: one, that the two people most opposed to interracial marriage were both black. That seemed quite the opposite of what you might expect. And two, I found it odd that the biggest problem was supposed to be the racial difference. The 14-year age gap and the fact they wanted to get married after only 10 days of knowing each other was largely ignored. I find that to be the much bigger problem -- how do you commit to a lifetime after only 10 days?
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Heavy handed and simplistic
hpmc618 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this on cable yesterday, I'd always known of this film but had never seen it. I like 'time capsule' films of the period, so I gave it a try.

The scenery and settings are enjoyable, the soundtrack typical of the period. The acting of Spencer Tracy and Sidney Poitier was very good. So were his parents and Katherine Hepburn. The portrayal of the daughter was somewhat stereotypical of a liberal early-mid 1960s upper class bay area girl.

Tillie (future 'Weezie' of 'The Jeffersons') gave a great performance both as an individual, but also as a member of any group who sees one of their peers move beyond what they were told they were allowed, as well as a genuine protectiveness toward 'Joey'.

The most disturbing question of the film was briefly addressed by Spency Tracy's character - why present this as an all or nothing ultimatum that has to be settled in a day? The answer was given as 'we love each other, why wait?'. But if he really loved her, he would have given both sets of parents a little time to absorb something so important. This would be true even if they were the same race. Why force someone to accept or reject someone for life within the first hour of meeting them? I suppose it had to be done this way for the dramatic effect.

By glossing over this very important question, the rest of the film become an axe grinding message for me. If you are for them right now, you're good, if you question it, you're a 'bigot'. Real life isn't that simple. Were they planning to 'play chicken' with everyone for the rest of their lives after they got married? How would that affect their children, vs choosing the timing of their battles a little more carefully? What a terrible message to send to anyone choosing that path in 1967.

It was also disturbing to see someone who's presented as so perfect (Poitier) display such ingratitude, disrespect and rejection of his own father in such a self righteous manner, without any apparent judgment of Poitier from the filmmaker.

There's not much to say about Tracy's closing, it was easy to see coming a mile away, and a relief to get it over with.
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AFI Top 100? Lets take a closer look:
zensixties27 March 2003
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is the 1967 Sidney Poitier film about interracial marriage that made the AFI Top 100 list. So why the mediocre rating by this reviewer and many others? I mean we have the great Sidney Poitier, as well as Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. We have the decent director Stanley Kramer (who did On the Beach), we have the great era of the 1960s and we have a controversial theme. Well the key to the mediocrity lies in a very weak script by William Rose that doesn't ring true in many ways.

John Prentice (Poitier) wants to marry Joey Drayton (Katharine Houghton) and all hell breaks loose between the parents (Tracy, Hepburn, Beah Richards, and Roy Glenn). Problem is the script tries to be politically correct while ignoring any semblance of reality or non-nerdness (to coin a word).

For example: a 2-faced employee wishes the couple well with whispering asides to Hepburn (in a WAY over the top cartoonish manner for both the well wishes and the asides). Joey says "Mom, she was well, RUDE!" actually she wasn't rude at all, she was 2-faced...big difference lost on the writer. And to get the lady out of their collective hair Hepburn gives her $5000.00. Not much of a punishment for being 2-faced.

Then we get this wacky priest who drinks, sings "We can Work it Out" in the most pretentiously hip unhip touch of the film, and thinks its funny that Mr. Liberal (Tracy) has such a problem with the marriage. As far as Poitier's speech to his father, "You think of yourself as a black man, I think of myself as a man", I have this to say: I'm sure men have thought that, but I doubt they ever said it, i.e. it came out of the writer, not out of reality. And I have no idea why they left that scene in where Tracy rams a black guy's car and the guy yells "There oughta be a law!" It didn't make sense, it didn't fit into the film, and I suppose it was just an ill-concieved joke by the writer.

And Tracy's speech at the end is supposed to be so touching, and it reduces Hepburn to tears...but really it's big on schmaltz and low on substance. This film is TV movie quality and made it into the AFI Top 100; hey AFI, ever hear of this other Poitier film from 1967...a little film called In the Heat of the Night? Such is my BIG GRIPE. How does this film make it while one of the best films of the decade doesn't? Answer: Politics. This one was about subtle middle class racism, that one was about blatant Southern racism. Well all I can say is see both films and YOU decide.
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Aging like a Limburger Cheese
MattB-525 March 2002
A movie rigged from the start to be a preachy, predictable bore. Would have been far more interesting if there were cultural differences between the white daughter and the black suitor. Instead, there is just basically two people from highly-educated, successful, good families that are not very different after all. Would have been far more interesting if there was a clash of cultures. This movie begs to be re-made today.

The Bad:

1. Katherine Hepburn looking 'dewy-eyed' scene after scene, enough!. Was here whole career success due to the ability to well-up tears in her eyes on cue?. 2. The actor playing the half-witted daughter was just awful, not only annoying, but who could believe that the Poitier character would find her interesting or that they could really be in love?. 3. Is this the worst set design ever in a movie?. 4. Tracy can act, but this is just a one-note narrow performance. Good actor wasted with a stupid script. 5. I deeply resent the male-bashing undercurrent of the movie. Women are just vessels of virtue and wisdom, while the men plod around dragging their knuckles and acting on prejudice.

The Good:

1. Hollywood's out of touch depiction of the 60s culture is always great for unintentional laughs, and this movie is full of them. That delivery boy should have gotten an academy award, not Hepburn. 2. Poitier is good, but looks pained throughout the movie, like he knows he is making a bad movie. Good scene where he confronts his father, the movie needed a lot more truth like that.
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FANatic-1028 December 2001
This movie, and the reception to it, exemplify all the problems inherent in the dreaded "message movie". Whenever any filmmaker accomplishes the undoubtedly tremendously difficult task of actually getting a film made which has something to say about a hot topic, like racism, and that film manages to actually produce a profit, Hollywood then falls all over itself patting itself on the back and usually honoring the film in a way all out of proportion to its artistic merits. For example, this movie was nominated for an astounding 10 oscars! Ten oscar nominations for a movie with all the style and artistry of a tv sitcom!

"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is an impossibly sugar-coated pitch for racial tolerance and inter-racial relationships. Nothing wrong with its intentions, but the script is so terribly self-congratulatory in its liberal piousness, and everything just gets tied up in such a nice, neat, totally unreal way. The film's characters all seem to live in a self-contained and sheltered environment that the real world comes nowhere near. Then, to advance their cause, the filmmakers all but put Sidney Poitier in a red cape with a big "S" on his chest! He is so incredibly handsome and noble and pure that Strom Thurmond wouldn't object to him as a son-in-law, let alone those bastions of liberality Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn! Pure malarkey...

I also have to say that Katharine Hepburn's oscar has to be one of the least deserved in the Academy's history. She is her usual self here, but its such a nothing role! All of the other actresses nominated in 1967 - Audrey Hepburn, Dame Edith Evans, Faye Dunaway in "Bonnie and Clyde" and Anne Bancroft in "The Graduate" - were each far more deserving of the honor. (Don't get me wrong, I like Kate - but she was much more deserving of the honor in 1962's "Long Day's Journey into Night" and 1968's "The Lion in Winter".)
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Well-made film with timeless issues, but could have been better...
farleyta16 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The most appealing aspect of this film is its overt, shameless portrayal of an issue that was completely and utterly taboo at the time of its release...interracial marriage; however, the film itself is only moderately entertaining.

Spencer Tracy's performance was very good, especially when considering the complexities of his character (a liberal journalist who finds himself resenting the fact that his own daughter plans to marry someone of another race), and there were a few other notable performances (I especially liked Monsignor Ryan, played by Cecil Kellaway). The writing was one of the stronger aspects of the film as well, mostly because of the utter straightforwardness about a topic that would make many Americans in 1967 cringe. By showing on screen the shock that each family member received when initially aware of the marriage allowed for an equally shocking effect on the audience, and the reactions seen on screen were probably similar to those of many Americans at the time (and, unfortunately today as well).

By having the Prentice family over for dinner at the end, the families are forced to look beyond whatever prejudices they might have and interact with people that are virtually foreign to them. In this sense, the movie carries a great message with it...and this message is still very applicable to today's society.

The biggest problem with this film was the believability of the issue. Due to Katharine Houghton's (Joey's) bubbly, overacted performance, it was impossible for me to believe that these two were actually as deeply in love as they said, especially when you consider the fact that they have only known each other for 2 weeks. In addition, I thought the "forced" nature of the necessity for approval from the parents was completely unrealistic. In essence, some of the major plot points and details are flawed, keeping a movie that could have been great just so-so. Nonetheless, it is worth watching at least once, especially if historic context of the film is considered.
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Katharine steals the show... again
v-colarusso4 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I may be biased because of my obsession with Katharine Hepburn. She steals the limelight in every film I've seen her in. Her and Spencer Tracy were wonderful on-screen together. I did not care for Joey's character so much. She seemed dim-whitted and slightly annoying. I really loved Matt's character development. The Monsignor was my favorite character, however. I thought that this movie captured a very real problem in that time period and probably helped sway many people's opinions of the issue. The ending speech by Spencer Tracy was beautiful and eloquent. The women persuading their husbands by making them remember how young love felt when they had it between them was touching. Regardless of racial, social, or cultural differences, love is universal and knowing how it feels should be able to change anyone's mind about socially unaccepted love between two people.
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