Let's not settle our 2016 values on this film. Interracial marriage is so commonplace these days. Not that it is accepted very well in many places. This film is one of the first to address the issue and it is not tame. When the young people go to the home of the white folks, there is a moment when a nuclear explosion may hit. Spencer Tracy always had a slow burn and he utilizes it well here. Still, it is too much for him at the beginning. One has to wonder if even the more liberal viewers of marriage knew that this was a road to a difficult life. Even today, it's a hard road to travel at times. One thing I appreciated was that we got the perspective from both sides, especially Sidney's father. Racial issues aren't always a one way street. This film needs to be seen even if one might think it dated.
Reviewed by claudio_carvalho9 / 10
Interracial Marriage in USA in the 60's
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")
Reviewed by classicsoncall8 / 10
"Civil rights is one thing. This here is something else".
It's probably fair to say that Sidney Poitier was the most influential black actor to confront racial barriers in his early film career. He spent most of the 1958 picture "The Defiant Ones" shackled to Tony Curtis, challenging movie goer perceptions of black/white antagonism in a man to man relationship further compounded by their role as escaped convicts. My personal favorite is 1967's "In The Heat of the Night", where his character Virgil Tibbs returns a slap to the face of a bigoted white man, demonstrating what he proclaims to his father in THIS film - "I think of myself as a man".
Some reviewers decry the fact that Poitier wasn't nominated for an Oscar for his performance here, citing an aggrieved sense of injustice based on racial grounds, but I don't know if I'm buying that. He actually WAS nominated for a Best Actor with co-star Curtis for "The Defiant Ones" nine years earlier, a film in which he had over the title billing in his first lead role. Then again, Cecil Kellaway was a Supporting Actor nominee here with less screen time and less importance to the film, so who can say. You just can't figure sometimes.
For those who find the film dated, as many reviewers on this board have, I would like to offer that lemon a chance to make some lemonade. As a time capsule reminder of where we've come from as a society, it's interesting to note that Joanna (Katherine Houghton) uses the term 'Negro' and 'colored' to describe her fiancée, and those descriptions come up elsewhere in the story. It's only Monsignor Ryan (Kellaway) who refers to 'blacks' as a race. Interesting to note, as his character was a Catholic priest who had the most enlightened approach to racial relations of all the 'older' characters, including Dr. Prentice's parents. While the Drayton's and Prentice's were examining their own racial attitudes, the Monsignor had already leaped that hurdle, never batting an eye when first introduced to Dr. Prentice.
But like a number of reviewers, I do have some issue with the character of Joanna Drayton. Her character was written with so much goodness and light that she came across as fairly one-dimensional, and a definite lightweight compared to her fiancé's accomplishments. This was probably the main thing that distracted from my enjoyment of the picture, as Joanna could be counted on to present a happy face to everything, even though her situation presented profound obstacles to struggle through and overcome. Even if love conquers all, the challenges could have been more pronounced to make the effort more worthwhile.
What's undeniably true is Spencer Tracy's observation to the Monsignor on the state of black and white relations from the standpoint of the picture's original release date. While bemoaning the fact that his daughter marrying a black man would have no impact on the attitudes of millions of people at the time, he was also prophetic in stating that it might take 'fifty or a hundred' years to reach that point of acceptance in society. Well it's almost fifty years, and a lot of the stigma presented in the film has been dealt with and overcome. On that basis, the film did knock down some barriers on the way to racial harmony, even if the country has experienced some bumps in the road along the way.