A few days ago I rewatched one of my many favorite classic films from my DVD collection, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. There is oh-so much I love about this film. The story is honest and bold, and the performances from each and every actor are stellar. I was a big fan of Spencer Tracy, but I think this was his finest performance. And sadly, it was his last because he passed away only two weeks after the film was completed.
I was 12-years old when this movie first came out in theaters in 1967. I can't exactly remember how old I was when I first saw it, but I'm thinking I was around 15. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was also one of my mother's favorite films, so I know that I most likely saw it with her once it was released on TV because she and I would often watch movies together.
And even though I was young at the time, I sensed that this film was a very important one because it addressed a highly controversial subject matter during that time period, with the civil rights movement and interracial marriage. It was a very courageous film.
Here is a brief synopsis:
When Joanna Drayton (Katharine Houghton), a free-thinking white woman, and black doctor John Prentice (Sidney Poitier) become engaged, they travel to San Francisco to meet her parents.
Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy) and his wife Christina (Katharine Hepburn) are wealthy liberals who must confront the latent racism the coming marriage arouses. Matt especially, who is a newspaper publisher and has championed liberal causes all his life, when faced with this situation, his beliefs are shaken to their core.
Also attending the Draytons' dinner are Prentice's parents (Roy E. Glenn Sr., Beah Richards), who are equally resistant about the union. *note: although very little screen time, Beah Richard's performance was brilliant. So tender and sincere, she brought tears to my eyes.
In the end, and after much heated discussion between all the characters in the film, Matt gives an impassioned speech to John & Joey about the struggles they will face and the unkindness that will be heaped on them, but that if they truly love each they will survive.
Granted, this film is dated as interracial marriages are not nearly as uncommon as they were at the time, but it remains a powerful story today because many people continue to struggle with it.
My own personal view on this subject:
In as much as society's view has changed over the past 48 years, there will always be people (white and black) who don't agree with it because they either believe that races shouldn't mix, and/or feel that the children of interracial marriages will suffer from it.
I've never believed that races should only marry the same races. This is a big world we live in, filled with lots of different races and ethnicity's. And in marrying them together the world becomes a more richer place because we create a blend of races and ethnicity's; celebrating them within each other.
And as far as the children are concerned, my feeling is that all children suffer something in their childhood because we can't protect children from the judgments of the world. I myself was verbally abused most of my childhood from other children in school because I was gay. And some children are verbally abused for being over-weight, or for having a lisp, or for not being smart, or for having a mental or physical handicap.
No child will live through their younger years without having some sort of judgement or prejudice against them.
But if we don't change the consciousness of the world through our children, then the world learns nothing. I believe that children are here to evolve the world.
It all comes down to love:
If two people meet and eventually love one another to the point of wanting to get married and have children, and they just so happen to be black and white, so what? Personally, I would rather see two people from difference races form a union of love and raise their children in that love, than have two people from the same race raise their children without any love.
You see, love doesn't concern itself with race or color. Love only knows that two people love each other.
Therefore, it all comes down to love.
And in the overall message of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, love conquers all.
Have a super Monday y'all!