Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a 1967 American drama film starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn, and featuring Hepburn's niece Katharine Houghton. The film was groundbreaking for its positive representation of the controversial subject of interracial marriage, which historically had been illegal in most states of the United States, and was still illegal in seventeen southern American states up until June 12 of the year of the film's release, when it was legalized by the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia. It was produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, and written by William Rose. The movie's Oscar-nominated score was composed by Frank DeVol. [1]

The film tells the story of Joanna "Joey" Drayton, a young White American woman who has had a whirlwind romance with Dr. John Prentice, a young, idealistic African American physician she met while in Hawaii. The plot centers on Joanna’s return to her liberal upper class American home in San Francisco, bringing her new fiancé to dinner to meet her parents, and the reaction of family and friends. The film depicts the discomfort of her parents, and also of John's father (a retired postal carrier, who with his wife, are also at the Drayton's dinner) as they all try to accept the choice of their son and daughter. A senior Catholic priest friend of Mr. Drayton's is also present at dinner and is a voice for tolerance. The film also touches on black-on-black racism when John is taken to task by his father and the household cook (played by Isabel Sanford) for his perceived presumption.

The film is also notable for being the ninth and final on-screen pairing of Tracy and Hepburn (filming ended just seventeen days before Tracy died). In Tracy's final speech of the film, Hepburn's tears were real—they both knew that this would be the last line of his last film, that he had not much longer to live. Hepburn never saw the completed film;[2] she said the memories of Tracy were too painful. The film was released in December 1967, six months after his death.[3]

The key line of dialogue from which the film got its title, "Guess who's coming to dinner?" (meaning the parents of the character played by Sidney Poitier), is spoken by Katharine Hepburn to Spencer Tracy.


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