Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - Review

This was a groundbreaking, extremely controversial movie.  When it came out in 1967, interracial marriage was still illegal in 13 states of the USA.
Sidney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy put forth stellar performances as a family wrestles with the implications of a quickly impending interracial marriage.  The story line is a bit cramped - with the parents having to make a decision of support for or against in a single night.  However, the overall story, acting, and writing are simply outstanding.  The two best parts of the movie are the internal struggles of Spencer Tracy and the father-son struggle of Sidney Poitier and his on-screen dad.
Spencer Tracy is a renowned liberal newspaper publisher - a bleeding heart, white liberal, who has supported racial reconciliation with abandon.  However, when his own daughter wants to marry a black man, he faces the secret depths of his own heart.  He discovers that deep prejudice can hide in the best of us.
Sidney Poitier's parents - who also conveniently arrive for dinner - also struggle with the shock of their son's love for a white woman.  However, one of the best lines in the movie comes in the father-son argument.  Finally, Sidney Poitier shouts one of the best movie lines in history: "You think of yourself as a colored man.  I think of myself as a man."
As someone who lives in Korea and sees many Korean families struggle with the potential marriages of their children to non-Koreans, this film still rings true.   This movie is also a wonderful demonstration of the power of art to contribute to positive change.
This is a must see.  One of the best movies I have seen in a very, very long time.  It's a shame that it fell from grace on the AFI top 100 list.  It was in their 1997 list, but not the 2007 one.  The Josh rating: hands down - JJJJJ.

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