Saturday, July 7, 2007

Addressing Racism, Party of Six

#99 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? directed by Stanley Kramer

This movie would be different if dinner was at his house.

Watching movies on tape often takes me back to childhood and watching Teen-Aged Mutant Ninja Turtles (the movie) in my friend's basement. Recently I've been time warped twice. The first came in the form of Weird Al's masterpiece UHF, featuring Michael Richards, Victoria Jackson and, most importantly, Emo Phillips.

More pertinent to this blog, though, is my viewing of Guess Who's Coming Dinner? Sydney Poitier - a black man if you didn't know - plays a black man in love with a white woman. Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy (in his last film) are the white broad's parents - the Draytons - and must meet this situation head-on in one day, as Poitier and the albino chick will be leaving for Geneva by the end of dinner. Poitier's parents come over too and antics ensue.

The film was thought-provoking, stirring and funny in many parts. Hepburn endears herself to me every time she speaks and won the 1967 Best Actress Oscar - although I personally feel she's more of a supporting one in this role. A scene where she fires her assistant for being a bigoted bitch stirs the viewer to fist-pump and give Hepburn a pound. *POUND

However there are a few drawbacks to this film. One is the situation itself. Poitier is an accomplished black man; he is a UN doctor on a humanitarian mission. Mr. Drayton himself is a famous San Francisco newspaper publisher known for his liberal views. So the question this movie posed wasn't whether the family's would accept this mixed marriage, so much as how society would view them. To better clarify my problem, I think this situation was unique and didn't accurately reflect a realistic problem. In an ideal world - as Tracy eventually concluded - this shouldn't be a problem and love is all you need.

Also, I think the movie patted itself on the back a little too much. Like "look we're maturely addressing racism, give us a gold star." I mean good for them, but there were way too many hokey monologues about the new generation being dragged down by the dying out old fogies. Poitier has a particularly dramatic altercation with his dad that's well done on his part, but so cornily written.

All-in-all, great flick; better on VHS. I didn't do it justice. For some reason this one was difficult to write about. Apologies to McGee cuz she loves this movie. Up next more Heburn in Bringing Up Baby (#97)


Meg said...

i do in fact love this movie. perhaps i'll do my own review on my movie blog. :)

The Lady Doth Protest said...

Chick Carerra? genius...

Meg said...

by the way, i've noticed that you have successfully spelled my name correctly on more than one occasion in this blog. props to you sir. *pound*