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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a 1967 film in which a white woman shocks her liberal parents with the news of her engagement to marry an African American man. Produced and directed by Stanley Kramer (It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World), the film went on to become one of the biggest box-office successes of all time.
Upon returning from a Hawaiian vacation, Joey Drayton (Katharine Houghton) introduces the charming Dr. John Prentice (Sidney Poitier) to her parents Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy) and Christina Drayton (Katherine Hepburn), who are shocked to learn that their white daughter in engaged to marry an African American man. Despite their liberal views and Joey's upbringing, the parents never thought that their daughter might one day fall in love with someone of another race.
During the course of one evening, the Drayton family views are confronted when Joey and John come to her parents seeking acceptance of their engagement to be married. John's parents, Mrs. Prentice (Beach Richards) and Mr. Prentice (Roy Glenn) are also flown out to San Francisco to visit and discuss the engagement. Both sides of the family discuss and debates the engagement.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was significant at the time of its release as interracial dating was considered less common in the 1960's and interracial marriage wasn't even possible in 17 states across the nation. The film was an important milestone in cinema for its positive portrayal of a interracial couple. It also featured one of the first on-screen kisses between a white woman and a black man (the first being in the 1965 release A Patch of Blue).
In one of the best scenes in the film, Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy) and Christina Drayton (Katherine Hepburn) stop at a malt shop while out and Matt orders a malt he is confident is identical to what he tried and loved last time he was there. He gets his malt, starts having his treat, and becomes frustrated because it wasn't what he had last time and it's a different flavor. Then after he grumbles about it he says how he likes the flavor. It's a perfectly timed comedic scene which is a perfect metaphor for the way he reacts to the news of Joey's engagement.
The performances in the film are remarkable. Sidney Poitier is absolutely terrific as Dr. John Prentice and gives a standout performance amongst a strong ensemble. Katherine Hepburn received an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and gives one of her best performances. Spencer Tracy also gives a strong performance. The supporting performances by Katharine Houghton, Beach Richards, and Roy Glenn also add a lot to the ensemble. The film was the 9th and last pairing of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn as Spencer Tracy passed away shortly after filming finished.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was also a success from a production standpoint with quality cinematography by Sam Leavitt (A Star Is Born) adding to the style. Costumes by Joe King (High Noon, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) were impressive and fashionable. Music composed by Frank De Vol (Kiss Me Deadly, The Dirty Dozen) contributed to the success. Production designs were by Robert Clatworthy (Ship of Fools, The Secret of Santa Vittoria).
The screenplay by William Rose (It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) is one of the best things about Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Rose crafted a smartly written script which provided strong storytelling and social commentary. Both produced and directed by Stanley Kramer (Inherit the Wind), the film remains a milestone in the director's long career and is still an important film worth discovering.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is presented on Blu-ray from Twilight Time with a remarkably strong 1080p High Definition presentation. This release was sourced from a new 4K resolution scan of the film. This is a wonderful transfer with great clarity, depth, and color reproduction. There are no signs of print damage or other detriments. The picture-quality is beautiful. Presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
Presented with a lossless quality 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mono audio presentation. This is a good audio mix which represents the original sound design for the film. The dialogue clarity is strong. Music fidelity impresses and the score composed by Frank De Vol sounds splendid on the release. This is a satisfying audio experience.
English SDH subtitles (for the deaf and hard of hearing) are provided.
Twilight Time has provided this release with a booklet featuring an essay written by Julie Kirgo.
On-disc supplements include:
Audio Commentary with Film Historians Eddy Friedfeld, Lee Pfeiffer and Paul Scrabo
Introduction by Karen Kramer (2:44) features an overview of the importance of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and a tribute to Stanley Kramer's films by the director's wife.
Introduction by Steven Spielberg (1:07) features Spielberg discussing the importance of the film and why Stanley Kramer was one of his favorite filmmakers.
Introduction by Tom Brokaw (2:46) highlights the newscaster's thoughts on the release of the film and the first time he saw it.
Introduction by Quincy Jones (2:50) features the beloved musician giving a tribute to the film.
A Love Story for Today (29:53)
A Special Kind of Love (17:15)
Stanley Kramer: A Man's Search for Truth (16:57) is a featurette about the films and career of director Stanley Kramer.
Stanley Kramer Accepts the Irving Thalberg Award (2:01)
2007 Producers Guild Stanley Kramer Award Presentation to An Inconvenient Truth (4:37)
Lastly, the release includes the Theatrical Trailer and Teaser Trailer for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won two (one for Best Actress in a Leading Role and another for Best Screenplay written for the screen). It was groundbreaking upon release and it stands up as an effective and entertaining film. The Blu-ray presentation by Twilight Time is exceptional (taken from a new 4K scan) and the release comes with many extras. Fans should absolutely consider this a worthy purchase.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.