Guess Who's Coming to Dinner  

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"Guess who's coming to dinner, Natty Dreadlocks."--Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1981) Black Uhuru

"He thinks you're going to faint because he's a negro."--Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a 1967 American romantic comedy-drama film produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, and written by William Rose. It stars Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, and Katharine Hepburn, and features Hepburn's niece Katharine Houghton.

The film was one of the few films of the time to depict an interracial marriage in a positive light, as interracial marriage historically had been illegal in most states of the United States. It was still illegal in 17 states—mostly Southern states—until June 12, 1967, six months before the film was released. Roughly two weeks after Tracy filmed his final scene (and two days after his death), anti-miscegenation laws were struck down by the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia.

The film is notable for being the ninth and final on-screen pairing of Tracy and Hepburn, with filming ending just 17 days before Tracy's death. Hepburn never saw the completed film, saying the memories of Tracy were too painful. The film was released in December 1967, six months after his death.

In 1998, the film was ranked No. 99 on the 100 Years...100 Movies list, by the American Film Institute.


In 1967, Joanna Drayton, a 23-year-old white woman, returns from her Hawaiian vacation to her parents' home in San Francisco with Dr. John Prentice, a 37-year-old black widower. The couple became engaged after a 10-day whirlwind romance. Joanna's parents are Matt Drayton, a successful newspaper editor, and his wife, Christina, who owns an art gallery. Though both of the Draytons are liberal-minded, they are initially shocked their daughter is engaged to a man of a different race. Christina gradually accepts the situation, but Matt objects because of the likely unhappiness and seemingly insurmountable problems the couple will face in American culture.

Without telling Joanna, John tells the Draytons he will withdraw from the relationship unless both Draytons give the couple their blessing. To complicate matters, John is scheduled to fly to New York later that night, and then to Geneva, Switzerland for three months in his work with the World Health Organization. His answer from the Draytons, therefore, will determine whether Joanna will follow him. Tillie, the Draytons' black housekeeper, suspicious of John's motives and protective of Joanna, privately corners John and speaks her mind. To John's surprise, Joanna invites John's parents to fly up from Los Angeles to join them for dinner that evening. John has not told them his fiancée is white. Monsignor Ryan, Matt's golf buddy, arrives after Matt cancelled their game. He tells both Matt and the couple he is supportive of the engagement. But Matt will not yield. Christina tells Matt she, too, is supportive of Joanna, even if it means fighting Matt. On the way to the airport to meet John's parents, the couple stops for a drink with an old friend of Joanna's and her husband; they are also completely supportive. While at the club, they hear a singer (Jacqueline Fontaine, uncredited) perform "The Glory of Love", a 1936 hit for Benny Goodman.

John's parents, the Prentices, arrive. They, too, are shocked when discovering Joanna is white. At the Drayton home, various private conversations occur among the two families. All agree more time is needed to absorb the situation. The two mothers meet and agree this was an unexpected event, but support their children. The two fathers meet, both expressing disapproval at this unhappy occasion. The Monsignor advises John not to withdraw, despite Matt's objections. John's mother tells him she and Christina both approve. John and his father discuss their generational differences. John's mother tells Matt that he and her husband have forgotten what it was like to fall in love, and their failure to remember true romance has clouded their thinking. John chides Matt for not having the "guts" to tell him face to face he disapproved of the marriage. Finally, Matt reveals his decision about the engagement to the entire group. In his speech, Joanna learns for the first time that John made their marriage conditional on the Draytons' approval. Matt ultimately concludes, after having listened to John's mother, that he does remember what true romance is. He says although the pair face enormous problems ahead due to their racial differences, they must find a way to overcome them, and he will approve the marriage, knowing all along he had no right to stop it. The families and the Monsignor then adjourn to the dining room for dinner.


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