“Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” Celebrating 50th Anniversary

The film “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” is celebrating its 50th anniversary and Sidney Poitier is celebrating his 90th birthday on February 20, 2017. Let’s take a moment and celebrate these amazing milestones.

On February 7th, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release a Blu-ray edition of the landmark film, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.” It has been digitally restored. The 1967 film was produced and directed by Stanley Kramer and starred Hollywood royalty–Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier.

Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn

Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn

Tracy and Hepburn portrayed Matt and Christine Drayton, whose liberal ideologies are tested when their daughter Joanna (Joey), introduces them to her African American fiancé, Dr. John Prentice. Katharine Houghton, Hepburn’s niece, played the role of their daughter, with Poitier as her fiancé.

Beah Richards and Roy Glenn in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner

Roy Glenn and Beah Richards

They met and fell in love while on vacation in Hawaii.  But they wanted her parent’s approval to marry and returned to San Francisco. Without telling John, Joey had invited his parents (actors Beah Richards and Roy Glenn) to dinner. And they didn’t hesitate to voice their disapproval. Tensions rise, and the conversation becomes the emotion center of the film.

Hepburn hadn’t made a movie in six years, and she and Tracy hadn’t been paired in a film since “Pat and Mike.” At 67, Tracy’s health was failing. He was quite ill during the filming, and often missed entire days of filming. But he soldiered on. His final speech came at the end of the film, an eight-minute monologue that would be his last screen performance. He died 17 days after it finished shooting.

“Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” made cinematic history when it was released. Interracial marriage was a controversial subject. Laws against miscegenation were still on the books in 16 Southern states. However, Kramer was undaunted. He had a history of making movies about controversial subjects, including “Judgment at Nuremberg,” “On the Beach” and “Inherit the Wind.”

Kramer had been dodgy about the script, describing the film as a romance. When he finally handed over the script to Columbia Pictures, they balked about making the film. They were scared of a backlash.

They needn’t have been. The film was a box office success and was nominated for ten Academy Awards and took home two. Hepburn received one and the other went to William Rose, for Best Original Screenplay.

“Dinner” seems rather tame by today’s standards, but in the 1960s, the United States was a civil rights hotbed. Interracial marriage was a daring and rather shocking subject. It was the first time that a black actor and white actress shared an onscreen kiss in a major motion picture. Ironically, between the times the film was shot and released, a Supreme Court ruling, Loving vs. Virginia, overturned laws against interracial marriages.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner Blu-RayThe 50th anniversary edition will be presented for the first time in Digibook packaging, with rare photos and an all-new essay from Gil Robertson, the co-founder and president of the African American Film Critics Association. Click here to order.

The Blu-ray disc includes archival bonus features, including introductions by Tom Brokaw, Quincy Jones, Karen Kramer and Steven Spielberg, as well as three featurettes, a photo gallery, and a theatrical trailer. It also features award presentations to Stanley Kramer (the Irving Thalberg Award) and Al Gore (Producers Guild of America “Stanley Kramer” Award).

Blu-ray Archival Bonus Features Include:

  • Introductions by Tom Brokaw, Quincy Jones, Karen Kramer and Steven Spielberg
  • Three Featurettes:
    • “A Love Story of Today” Featurette
    • “A Special Kind of Love” Featurette
    • Stanley Kramer: A Man’s Search for Truth
  • 2007 Producers Guild of America “Stanley Kramer” Award Presentation to Al Gore
  • Stanley Kramer Accepts The Irving Thalberg Award
  • Photo Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer
“GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER” has a running time of 108 minutes and is not rated.

 

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About Starla Smith

Starla Smith is a career journalist, writing features for such publications as The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Daily News, The Des Moines Register, Vibe and a prize-winning Gannett Newspaper. She helped launch Theater Week Magazine and eventually became its publisher. As a regular contributor to Playbill, her interviews and photos were featured in Playbill and Playbill-on-line. Smith was featured in the New York Times “Style” section for her “Word Portraits,” specialized tributes, speeches, and presentation profiles. And she covered theater and features for City Search, Digital City, and the Tena Duberry WOW! Radio show. She previously served as astrology guru for Out Magazine, and she hastens to assure her readers that “Starla” is indeed her real name.

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