Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner takes place during the course of one day as two families struggle to overcome their concerns about the interracial marriage of their children. This film is a treat for the eyes with lovely sets and beautiful people. It also has a nice 1960’s feel that is reinforced by sophisticated wardrobing and an “easy listening” soundtrack–featuring The Glory of Love as the signature tune. The film relies very heavily on the use of dialogue and reflects the elegance of a time when people were entertained by stimulating conversation. The San Francisco backdrop also is the perfect setting for a movie that challenged racial convention.
It’s been said that in the final scene Tracy–who was very ill at the time and who died shortly after the movie was completed–delivered one of the longest soliloquies in American film history, in only one take. Katherine Hepburn was clearly so moved by the scene that it’s hard to believe that she is just acting as her eyes brim with tears.
Although the some of its sentiments are dated, this film is highly entertaining and provides a rare opportunity to experience outstanding performances from six gifted actors who bring compassion and depth to Stanley Kramer‘s film. Its’ angst relative to interracial marriage also reminds us of how far we have not come.
Comedy, Drama | USA, 1967 | PG | Out now| Dir.Stanley Kramer |Katerine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Houghton |Buy:Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner [Dual Format]
One of the earliest and best films in the “Inner City Teacher” sub-genre, To Sir, with Love is based on E. R. Braithwaite’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name and directed by James Clavell.
Shot in the style of a kitchen sink drama, it follows Sydney Poitier as Mark Thackeray, an engineer from British Guyana who has been having difficulties securing a post in England. In order to pay the bills, he takes a position as teacher in the tough East End of London. There he is given the task of managing the troublesome sixth form in the North Quay Secondary School. After coming to the conclusion that conventional teaching methods aren’t working, Mark decides that his students should be prepared for life after their impending graduation.
Thackeray’s class all work well as an ensemble, it feels like some roles could have been condensed into one character. Judy Geeson and Lulu share a similar role in a lot of ways, although with either Geeson’s acting or Lulu’s musical ability was missing the film as a whole would be lesser for it, so it makes sense to have two characters instead. Sidney owns this performance. It’s almost as if the films he starred in reflected his own persona. This is a man who played it cool all through his career, even at a time of oppression and discrimination.
In certain respects To Sir, with Love has aged so much it is now effectively a time capsule for an era that may as well for many of us not have even existed. The antics of the rebellious teenagers is almost adorable in comparison to what kids are supposedly up to today – dancing at lunchtime? Oh my! And the trip to the Victoria & Albert museum montage is almost an alien experience. But of course this does not take away from the film, it just makes you marvel at how far we’ve come in some ways, and how alike we still are in others.
Drama | UK, 1967 | PG | Out Now | Dir.James Clavell | Sidney Poitier, Lulu, Judy Geeson |Buy:To Sir with Love [Dual Format]
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner:
* Four Introductions: Karen Kramer, Steven Spielberg, Tom Brokaw and Quincy Jones
* A Love Story for Today: a production retrospective, which includes interviews from producers, historians and fans alike.
* A Special Kind of Love: archival recordings of Hepburn where she gives her recollections on the film, and an interview with Hepburn’s niece.
* Stanley Kramer: A Man’s Search for Truth an overview of Kramer’s vision and how he wanted to make a statement with the film and to try and make a difference.
* Stanley Kramer Accepts the Irving Thalberg Award
* 2007 Producers Guild Stanley Kramer Award Presentation to An Inconvenient Truth.
To Sir, with Love;
• Audio commentary with Judy Geeson and film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman.
• Audio commentary with novelist E.R. Braithwaite and author/teacher Salome Thomas-El.
• Those Schoolboy Days: new interview with actor Christian Roberts with his recollections on the film.
• Look and Learn: new interview with art director Tony Woollard on how he wanted the film to look and how he went about bringing the 60’s to life.
• E.R. Braithwaite: In His Own Words: the writer discusses his life and work.
• Lulu and the B-Side: interview with the acclaimed singer on her contributions to the film, both as an actor and lending a song to the soundtrack.
• Miniskirts, Blue Jeans and Pop Music!: a look at the sixties portrayed in the film.
• To Sidney With Love: agent Marty Baum talking about Sidney Poitier and what it was like to work with him.
• Principal El: He Chose to Stay: interview with teacher and author Salome Thomas-El. Some of the info is repeated from the commentary but it’s worth a look.
• Isolated score track showing off Ron Grainer’s score.