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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn) (released in 1967)

The 1960's was a period of racial reform in the US, with a series of court judgments having come through in the current decade and the previous decade - the aim of these judgments was to enforce civil rights for all and ensure that society was the same for all. During the 60's, there were a number of states (from the former Confederate states, from the south) that had laws related to prohibiting marriage between the races; so a marriage between a white and a black was illegal in many states. This was a movie that touched on that topic, and received positive acclaim.
The movie was also the last movie in which the on-screen (and off-screen) pair of Spencer Tracy appeared together (this being their 9th such movie). Also, Spencer Tracy was dying when the movie was being made, with Tracy dying 17 days after the filming of the movie ended. As a result, Hepburn was never able to see the movie, given her memories of Tracy - she always claimed that the movie brought back too many painful memories.
The movie earned a few Academy Awards:
Academy Award for Best Actress (Katharine Hepburn)
Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay

The movie deals with the story of a San Francisco couple, Matt & Christina Drayton (played by stars Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn), whose daughter Joey Drayton (Katharine Houghton) comes home from a trip to Hawaii, and then informs that she is now engaged to a Doctor - Dr. John Prentice (played by Sidney Poitier) with the following provisions:
- The man is 14 years elder to her
- He is black, while she is white
- The Doctor will not marry her until her parents agree to the marriage
- They have only 1 day to decide, since the Doctor needs to leave for Switzerland
What follows is the story of their indecision. Matt Drayton is a liberal newspaper publisher, but this decision of his daughter shakes him to the core; the parents are worried about the problems and challenges that the couple will face. They decide to invite the Doctor's parents from Los Angeles, and the Doctor's parents are equally worried by this decision. See this movie for an interesting insight into the challenges that America was facing with respect to its racial divide.
I also compare this movie with an example from Arthur Hailey's Hotel (where there is a comparison about how the hotel finally accepts a black guest who is well educated, and the only difference is the color of the skin. What happens if the person is not so well educated, or not so well behaved, or something similar ?

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn) (released in 1967)

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