Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film deals with a couple that approaches their parents with their impending (and hotly contested) marriage. The main conflict revolves around disagreements between parents and their children about interracial marriage and the generation gap in general.
What's the story?
In GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER, two young people fall in love. The glitch comes when one is the handsome African-American doctor John Prentice (Sidney Poitier) and the other is the idealistic white Joanna Drayton (Katharine Houghton). The upper-class liberal Draytons (Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy) and working class Prentices (Beah Richards and Roy Glenn) are thrown into a tizzy, but everyone must figure out what to do during an impromptu dinner at the Drayton's fancy home. Eventually, ultimatums are cast, the mothers function as fonts of wisdom, and everyone must figure out how to live and love in a changing world.
Is it any good?
It may seem a bit dated due to its 1960s jive lingo and its dominant feelings regarding race, but this film still presents a funny and relevant tale of parent-child quarreling and social conflict. It combines big-name stars and contemporary themes to create a meaningful tale questioning family, love, and social norms. Hepburn delivers a hilariously understated scene as she calmly (yet, insultingly) fires her racist assistant.
The film also marks the last onscreen pairing of longtime lovers and costars Hepburn and Tracy. Hepburn would nurse Tracy through his final battle with poor health; he succumbed to a heart attack just weeks after filming. Pay attention and you'll catch a funny and biting appearance by Isabel Sanford, the family maid who quips, "Civil rights is one thing. This here is somethin' else!" Kids who saw the 2005 remake, Guess Who, starring Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher, might be interested in seeing this film with a little parental encouragement.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about parent-child relationships and issues of tolerance. Do the problems facing our romantic partners still face people today? While pushing the envelope for the period, how might this film present an overly rosy version of racial unrest? What different perspectives do the various characters bring with regard to the issue of interracial marriage? The complex parental relationships also present fodder for productive conversation.