Monday, January 26, 2009

"After all, a lot of people are going to think we are a shocking pair"

No, this post isn't about the SO and me.  It's actually about the movie we watched this weekend, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.  And even though it's the umpteenth time I've watched it, the movie still remains poignant to me, as the SO and I are definitely the odd couple.  But about the movie...

It's obvious from the introduction of the interracial couple, played by Sidney Poitier (as Dr. John Prentice) and Katharine Houghton (as Joanna "Joey" Drayton), that this movie would be about that exact issue.  Even though the recent remake of the movie flopped because many think it's a dead issue, there still remains an air of ignorance on the part of the world about a mixed couple.  Set in San Francisco in 1967, one of the liberal focal points in America during the '60s and still today, the movie opens up with the couple getting into a taxi, with the driver giving a look of uneasiness, as the couple kisses.

What really stands out from this movie is how Joey's parents, Matt (Spencer Tracy) and Christina (Katharine Hepburn) Drayton, react to the couple and how quickly everything moves in that relationship.  As liberal as Matt may be, he still appears to be an "old stubborn mule" when it comes to his own daughter's love life.  For a person to fight for the people's rights, Matt has a hard time practicing what he preaches.  Chrstina, shocked at first, seems to come around a lot sooner than her husband.  The Draytons' personal cook Tillie (Isabel Sanford), a black woman, has a hard time with the couple, maybe because the relationship is too new, maybe because of the issues the couple will face in the world, or possibly because she thinks John is trying to be better than other blacks.  So, not only does the movie touch on black-and-white racism, but also black-on-black racism.

As much as Joey is the ultimate vision of the flower child of the '60s, interracial unions were still illegal in 17 states in 1967, until the Supreme Court ruled on Loving v. Virginia.  Joey seems very elated about her love for John, but appears so naive about what lies ahead for them.  Poitier's portrayal of Dr. Prentice makes him seem very emotional, even taking it out verbally on his father.  The key character, to me, is Monsignor Ryan (Cecil Kellaway), a dear friend of the Draytons and a member of the Church (which can be viewed as very conservative to many) who is probably the most understanding character in the entire movie.  He makes Matt look like Rush Limbaugh (and that's saying something if you understand Matt's character).

Ultimately, John weighs his decision to marry Joey (which is scheduled to happen a week later in Geneva) on how Matt feels on the issue.  Being the sensitive guy that he is, John wants the approval of his future bride-to-be's father, especially under the circumstances of the time.  In the end, Matt (Spencer Tracy's last scene on screen before his passing 17 days after filming) says it's not up to him or Christina or John's parents (who show up for dinner after flying from Los Angeles that afternoon) or anyone else in the world.  It's up to John and Joey and how much they love each other that should affect if they get married.  In one long afternoon/evening, we learn that for as much approval that John wanted, in the end all that mattered was that he loved Joey and she loved him.  And if they loved each other as half as much as Matt and Christina, then they would have a long time together, in love.

In the end of this post (a very short one, but I have a reason for that...described in the next post!), it comes down to this.  This movie was one of the first "classic" movies that my SO and I sat down to watch together.  The SO doesn't really care for movies (mostly because her attention span rivals any Ritalin-laden teenager) and especially gets bored of "classic" (i.e. movies from decades ago) films, so I was really surprised she took a liking to this movie.  For that, I would say it's a keeper.  What do you think?  Do you agree that it's a keeper? Or should it be ceremoniously left out of the DVD collection?  Let me know in the comments.  In a short while, I'll get to writing the post about today's adventure in the apartment, but until then...Later!

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