Retro Review: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

By: Emily Kellas

Rating: 9 out of 10

 

The last film that Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn made together was perhaps one of their most prolific. 1967’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is a romantic comedy/drama that explores the mostly untouched world of interracial romance. Directed by Stanley Kramer and starring Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, and Katherine Houghton Guess Whose Coming to Dinner chronicles a family trying to figure out a changing, yet stubborn, world.

Joey Drayton (Houghton) has returned home to visit her parents Matt (Tracy) and Christina (Hepburn) Drayton in San Francisco and has brought along her new fiancé Dr. John Prentice (Poitier), who just happens to be African American. Matt and Christina are faced with a decision, to approve or not to approve, of the impending nuptials. If they don’t give their blessing they risk losing their daughter forever.  Will old ways of thinking prevail over modern love?

This was Spencer Tracy’s very last film, as he passed away shortly after completion of the film. And for a man who was suffering from lung congestion and a variety of other ailments throughout shooting, he gives a stellar performance. He is able to balance delicately on the line between concerned father and sympathetic romantic. Hepburn is also perfect in her role as the mildly concerned, yet excited mother who supports the marriage between the two young people, despite race. Hepburn’s classic strength of character and witty sense of humor brings Christina alive. For Poitier this has become one of his most famous roles. In the same year he starred in GWCTD he also starred in In the Heat of the Night, and To Sir, With Love. All three films are very different from one another and show off the range of his abilities. GWCTD was yet another facet to the Poitier character. He is calm, cool, collected, respectful, and understanding, and, in my eyes, the only person who could pull off the part. Katherine Houghton is just right for the role of bubbly Joey Drayton. The blonde actress was able to be both naïve and mindful of the decisions her character was making.

Though it does seem to drag during certain moments, the film’s pacing is pretty much on par. Cinematography isn’t the main focus of the film, therefore the camera work isn’t spectacular, but also not horrible.

What is the main focus of the film? The story and the people involved. It is the relationships and interactions of the main characters that have made the film a classic. So make sure to add Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner to your list of must see films.

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