2016 Blind Spot Series: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

What I knew going in: A good amount of people seem to feel very strongly about Hepburn winning an Oscar for this. Guess Who was somewhat of a remake. 

Joey Drayton (Katharine Houghton) and Dr. John Prentice (Sidney Poitier) met 10 days ago in Hawaii and have fallen in love. They intend to marry, only it's the 1960's and she's white, and he black. They know how society will view their relationship, so they decide to start small and hope to win over Joey's parents (Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy) first. Of course, they only give them a few hours to decide before they fly onto Geneva for John's work.

It's so embarrassing that I saw the awful Guess Who, yet never watched this until now. When I put together my Blind Spots, I knew I wanted to see more of Katharine Hepburn, and this movie was one had some strong opinions about it. 

I enjoyed it. The acting is phenomenal across the board. (Okay, Houghton isn't that great, but Joey is so sweet you almost forget) I thought it had a lot of really interesting things to say. Especially how they were more focused on race instead of the short courtship.

There's some strange choices in the film that stop me from giving it a perfect score, like the dancing delivery boy and the weird encounter at the ice cream shop. It's also sad to think that Spencer Tracy died two weeks after making this, he doesn't look sick in the film at all, which is probably a testament to how good Tracy is. So did Hepburn deserve that Oscar? I haven't seen all the other performances she was up against, but she was so good here.

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Get permanently lost." - Christina Drayton (Katharine Hepburn)


  1. The film itself is dated but its main conceit of acceptance of a person despite any outward appearance is certainly still current. On that level despite its occasional preachiness it’s an entertaining film. I liked it without being able to say that I loved the picture. Part of that is that as you mentioned the only concern any of the people had was the racial issue and no one seemed to give a tinker’s damn about the fact that these two people really didn’t know that much about the other. In real life surely someone would have raised that question as a potential difficulty with more than a passing reference.

    Another thing that holds me back is that Poitier’s character is just TOO perfect. I understand the reasoning behind it “Look here is this man without one fault that anyone would be delighted to welcome into their family except for this one thing!” but it makes him hard to relate to.

    As such it affects Poitier’s performance, he often seems stiff and awkward-more the fault of the role than his work but it still constrains him. There is a great deal of very fine work here, Beah Richards is very touching as Sidney’s mother and Cecil Kellaway has a lot of fun as the priest who is the longtime family friend. The standout for me though is Spencer Tracy. Despite his precarious health throughout shooting he is consistently emotionally true and his speech about love while looking at Hepburn rips your heart out.

    Now about Kate Hepburn. I’m a big fan of hers and her work in this is good but it’s not great-that performance came the next year in Lion in Winter-and hardly worthy of an Academy Award. Especially when she was up against four women who were all better than she was, not to mention at least two-Catharine Deneuve in Belle de Jour & Sandy Dennis in Up the Down Staircase-who weren’t nominated but should have been over her. But she’s neither the first nor the last performer who’s won for other reasons that had little to do with who gave the best performance.

    1. I haven't seen enough Katherine Hepburn movies and unfortunately I didn't fit any on my Blind Spot list for next year. I'll have to make a better effort.

      I didn't take issue with Sidney's character being perfect for the shallow reason that he was just so hot. lol

      Thanks for commenting. :)


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