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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

This film is more than fifty years old, but maybe precisely because of that it might shed light on our current Black Lives Moment. Stanley Kramer's positive depiction of an interracial marriage has won numerous awards, and is often listed as one of the "best movies ever made." When the film was released, there were still laws in seventeen states that made interracial marriage illegal. The story revolves around a twenty-three year old white woman named Joanna Drayton and a thirty-seven-year-old "negro" doctor named John Prentice (Sidney Poitier), who in a whirlwind romance get engaged after ten days. Together, they travel to the San Francisco home of Joanna's very wealthy and politically liberal parents (Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy) in order to share their "good" news. As the movie unfolds, other people join the dinner and thicken the plot—an Irish priest friend who is very positive about it all, and John's parents who fly up from LA and are very negative. The most oppositional character is the black maid Tillie, who accuses John of trying to "marry up." The craziest thing about this movie is that it is a "comedy drama." And it works. That's hard to imagine in our bitter cancel culture, where anger and recriminations boil just beneath the surface. In an interesting side note, this was the ninth and last film made that paired Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn together on screen.  In fact, Tracy died just seventeen days after filming ended. The loss was so painful for Hepburn that she never watched the completed version. I watched this movie on Amazon Prime.

Dan Clendenin:

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