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Film Review: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

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Name of the film: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Director: Stanley Kramer

Writer: William Rose

Producers: Stanley Kramer, George Glass

Actors: Spencer Tracey, Katharine Houghton, Sydney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and others.

Year of release: 1967

The film tells the story of a young couple: a white girl Joanna and her fiancé Afro-American Dr. John Prentice. They met on Hawaii, fell in love “in 20 minutes” and decided to marry as soon as possible. Nevertheless, first, they had to get approval from Joanna’s parents – Mr. and Mrs. Drayton. The problem two lovers encountered was the reaction from all four parents, and the dinner of two families became the culmination of the film.

Joanna and John came to Mr. and Mrs. Drayton for approval. Christina Drayton was shocked and nearly fainted, when her beloved daughter introduced her fiancé John Prentice, but Joanna’s breathtaking story of how she met John and fell in love with him, made Mrs. Drayton remember her own youth. She understood how passionate her daughter was about her fiancé and took her side.

When first introduced to Dr. Prentice, Mr. Drayton behaved like a reasonable person speaking to a well-respected, educated man. When he understood, that the Afro-American man was his daughter’s fiancé, something changed inside him in a moment. It was not only the thought of what rush the two young people were in to marry, but the racial difference between them. However, the most important issue was that he was pressurized by the limit of time his daughter gave him to decide on his approval of the marriage.

It never occurred to Christina and Matt Drayton that something like this could hapen to their family. They had liberal views and raised their child accordingly, but it turned out to be a great difference between the beliefs they stood for and the reality they encountered. They never hold to the racist prejudices, in opposite, they stood for equality, but when they both met Dr. Prentice and were introduced to him as their daughter’s fiancé, they were shocked.

Dr. Prentice is 14 years older than Joanna. He is a serious young man, famous in his circles, but nothing seemed to matter to Joanna’s father, Mr. Drayton, who did not believe in John’s merits. As all fathers worrying about their daughters, he made sure that Dr. Prentice did not lie to his daughter: deep inside Matt Drayton understood that it was not the lies he worried about, but the fact this man was African-American and marrying him would give his daughter a lot of trouble.

Albeit without the approval of Joanna’s parents Dr. Prentice was not agree to take Joanna the Draytons because he knew how much pain this rupture could bring her. He gave a speech to Joey’s parents about the importance of their decision, and it made Mr. Drayton even more difficult to decide as he saw an honest man speaking to him.

John wanted to prepare his parents for the meeting, but Joanna was so excited to get acquainted immediately that she invited them to have a dinner that night with her parents. They did not expect their son to choose a white girl and were very surprised, even shocked as well, as the Draytons during their first meeting with John.

Joanna is a hyper, unpredictable girl, but she is very determined about all her decisions. Her mother described daughter as not already a child, but a clever woman. Joey was raised by liberal people, who taught her to be understanding and comfortable with persons of different races around her. Joey really did not see any difference between her and her fiancé. She looked aat him with such an overwhelming love; she was ready to become a wife to this man and ready to fight against the world for their right to love. During the dinner with friends, Joey decided not to postpone the meeting and reuniting with her fiancé in Geneva and to go with him the same evening, right after the dinner. Joey could not imagine that Tillie, Draytons’ servant, suspected John in bad intentions and according to Tillie’s concepts it was not normal for the different-colored people to love each other and marry. Joey told her, “How can it possibly be all right for me to love you and wrong to love him?” implying they all were the same, equal and Tillie was the last to be expected to have such an attitude to the one similar to her.

The only one, who approved this marriage from the very beginning, was Monsignor Ryan, the Draytons’ old friend. Although, when he met the couple, he warned they would encounter misunderstanding and reproach from the majority of people.

Agreement between fathers and their opposition to mothers during the dinner was broken, when they all had face-to-face conversations with each other, opened their souls and remembered that John and Joanna were, first of all, people who loved each other.

Matt Drayton’s confident and firm speech was the culmination of the dinner. He revealed everybody’s thoughts on the issue and finally stated his approval.

Though the time when interracial marriages were much reproached for had gone,  prejudiced people, who cannot understand that there are no distinctions between persons of different color, still exist. We are all equal in the sight of God, and that is how we should treat each other. Today the society is becoming more and more empathetic. The understanding of different culture, different world view helps to open one’s mind, improve international relations and communication between people.

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