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Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner August 29, 2006

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.

I love this film. I can’t stop raving about this one. You don’t hear enough praises of Stanley Kramer and his movies like this one and Inherit the Wind (produced and directed by him). Superlative screenplay, realistic characters, striking dialogue, skillful direction and magnificent acting make this a brilliant film.

I’ve seen hundreds of movies where the love between two people is put in jeopardy by their conflicting backgrounds. Through all those movies, I was longing to see the right one and this is it. This is the movie that I hoped somebody would make (actually I hoped that I could make something like this if I ever made a movie) but its already been made and in 1967 at that. The screenplay and dialogue by William Rose is extraordinary and the direction by Stanley Kramer is marvelous. Every character, every emotion, every dialogue seems real and logical. Between the four parents, the reactions encompass most things that parents would do in such a situation. The characterization of the lead pair is very natural and believable and adds value to the script. There is some oustanding dialogue in the movie but if I had to pick one the “I don’t owe you anything” speech by Poitier would be it.

As long as there is discrimination of any sort between people, this movie will be relevant. The movie has race as the point of conflict but it might as well have been anything else. Religion, Creed and Caste are very real points of conflict till today in most places around the world. I can even see Sexual Orientation being the point of conflict in current times.

Every actor in the movie performs remarkably well. I loved Sidney Poitier as Dr Prentice. His presence on the screen demands so much respect. Sidney Poitier was the first black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading role (for Lilies of the Field) and after watching this movie I can see why. Spencer Tracy (who was also topnotch in Inherit the Wind apparently died just a few days after the movie was completed) plays the father to perfection. Katharine Hepburn (who was romantically linked to Tracy for a long time till his death) is excellent as the mother. She takes on the role with poise and speaks mostly with her expressions. Katharine Houghton (who is Hepburn’s niece in real life) plays the daughter and suits her role perfectly. Cecil Kellaway plays the family friend Monsignor Mike Ryan and does an expert job. Roy Glenn and Beah Richards play Poitier’s parents with Richards getting some wonderful scenes to enact and she delivers. I was very happy to know that this movie was nominated for 9 Oscars and won two (although I feel it could have done with more).

Most of the movie is discussions that run over the length of a day. If you enjoy films with intellect like Swades and Good Will Hunting you should love this movie. Anyone who has grown up on a consistent diet of romantic flicks should watch this to see what those movies are missing . This is not escapist cinema, so stay away if you are expecting entertainment of that sort.


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