Russell and I watched Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner this evening. In trying to decide what to watch, Russell read off cast lists and DVD captions to entice me. He didn’t have to go much further than “Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn” for me to say, “Oh, oh, that one!” I was NOT disappointed. The movie is a bit dated now but it is still a good watch.
Over all, I liked the writing but I had a few problems with the script. One was the depiction of a seemingly unified front of progressive young people versus the old folks and their tired prejudices. Although the script admits that the future for an inter-racial couple will be hard, in every scene that features young people, everyone is getting along famously, regardless of color. The script would have you believe that young people don’t have the slightest notion of race. This is not true of 2009, well enough 1967. However, the dialogue was solid and I had no idea how it was going to turn out.
I really enjoyed the performances. This was Tracy’s last film, he died the same year. Nonetheless, he was nothing less than the powerhouse I expected him to be. Hepburn had a few well-written scenes in which to shine. I especially liked a certain scene in which she deals with an employee of hers. I really liked the portrayal of Monsignor Ryan (Cecil Kellaway). Poitier never quite did what I expected him to with the role (and that was a good thing!). I was amused by what he was doing with his sandwich when he was sitting on the terrace waiting for his bride-to-be’s father to come home.
The film won two Oscars (Best Actress, Katharine Hepburn and Best Writing) and was nominated for eight others (including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Actress). Hepburn, Tracy and Poitier were already Oscar winners before working on this film.