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Guess Who's Coming To Dinner....


WonderWoman
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I enjoyed watching this film for (maybe) the 100th time....

I was a bit dismayed at the commentary at the end of the film re: the "white man taking charge".   

First of all, this entire movie pretty much takes place in the "white man's" home.  From the very beginning, in spite of raising his daughter to be open minded, Dad had not considered his little girl marrying  a black man.  Now...it's difficult for most dads to grasp their little girl getting married - especially with such short notice.  Now, throw in the black groom-to-be and this Dad has a LOT to digest in just a few hous.  Granted, interracial marriages are not the issue that they once were.  But in this case, on top of Dad's other 2 hurdles, he's got this huge one. So....here we have this couple's biggest challenge as we sit in his living room.  John's dad also had objections to this marriage, but let's face it, color or not, fathers of boys just don't have the concerns that father's of girls do.  Not to mention that John really let his dad have it "You think of yourself as a black man and I think of myself as a man" (the most profound line in this movie besides the amazing speech Tracey gave to Hepburn...and yes, although this was a heartfelt speech from Matt to Christina, it's certainly Spencer speaking to Hepburn, considering their relationship and his death just a few weeks afterward.)

Here it is.......IF this movie had been in the Prince home, white daddy's speech would have aggreeably been out of line.  This whole movie is about all of the characters coming to terms with the thought and reality of a mixed race marriage.  Remember we have already heard Dad Prince's speech and we also know the mom's thoughts as well as Tilly's.  Considering the setting, the BIG daddy issues that Jo's dad has with this marriage, it was perfectly fitting that white dad had the final intense word in HIS living room concerning HIS daugther.  Even today, little girls' dad's approval is still the BIG hurdle when it comes to weddings.  Mom's NORMALLY side with their daughter as they can relate to those (long ago) feelings of love and anticipation (this was covered so well by John's mom in her dialogue to Matt.)   Dad Prince already addressed the same issues although the issues just had a different view - Dad was insulted that his son would disreard his parent's sacrifices to marry a white girl and add so many unnecessary hurdles in his already challenging future as he steps into the traditionally white world.  Again, considering this is happening in the daughter's dad's home and we haven't heard his speech yet, this is a fitting time and place to hear Dad's summary.  Let's remember that era for what it was....obviously it was a HUGE issue for a white girl to marry a black guy.  Doesn't his speech make sense here?  Ths movie was NOT set in the 2000's where we certainly might be a bit more taken back by Spencer's speech.  I NEVER percieved it as some kind of "superior white guy giving out instructions to everyone."  Have we gotten to the point that we have to dissect classics by shoving them into today's cluture and shame them for not be so politically correct? 

In conclusion - I'm sure we all agree that this film is truly a classic;  brave, bold and poignant in a very different and challenging era.  If the film were done today, it probably would have a black doctor marrying a white girl from the wrong side of the tracks or a black high-school dropout marrying a white woman doctor.  Or a black woman doctor marrying a white addict - maybe a same sex marriage.  But it's not.  It's a classic for the issues it tackled with outstanding performances by tremendous actors.  It still resonates today and as far as I'm concerned, should be requried in every High School social studies class so that younger people are able to observe how things were, but most of all, how intellegent and sensitive people tackle HUGE issues and still end up having dinner together.  Above all, I hope that we can all watch movies (indeed, look at life in general) with our PEOPLE glaases on...not just glasses that match the color of our skin. 


Thank you so much!  Viva la TMC!!

Jan Johnson

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2 hours ago, WonderWoman said:

I enjoyed watching this film for (maybe) the 100th time....

I was a bit dismayed at the commentary at the end of the film re: the "white man taking charge".   

First of all, this entire movie pretty much takes place in the "white man's" home.  From the very beginning, in spite of raising his daughter to be open minded, Dad had not considered his little girl marrying  a black man.  Now...it's difficult for most dads to grasp their little girl getting married - especially with such short notice.  Now, throw in the black groom-to-be and this Dad has a LOT to digest in just a few hous.  Granted, interracial marriages are not the issue that they once were.  But in this case, on top of Dad's other 2 hurdles, he's got this huge one. So....here we have this couple's biggest challenge as we sit in his living room.  John's dad also had objections to this marriage, but let's face it, color or not, fathers of boys just don't have the concerns that father's of girls do.  Not to mention that John really let his dad have it "You think of yourself as a black man and I think of myself as a man" (the most profound line in this movie besides the amazing speech Tracey gave to Hepburn...and yes, although this was a heartfelt speech from Matt to Christina, it's certainly Spencer speaking to Hepburn, considering their relationship and his death just a few weeks afterward.)

Here it is.......IF this movie had been in the Prince home, white daddy's speech would have aggreeably been out of line.  This whole movie is about all of the characters coming to terms with the thought and reality of a mixed race marriage.  Remember we have already heard Dad Prince's speech and we also know the mom's thoughts as well as Tilly's.  Considering the setting, the BIG daddy issues that Jo's dad has with this marriage, it was perfectly fitting that white dad had the final intense word in HIS living room concerning HIS daugther.  Even today, little girls' dad's approval is still the BIG hurdle when it comes to weddings.  Mom's NORMALLY side with their daughter as they can relate to those (long ago) feelings of love and anticipation (this was covered so well by John's mom in her dialogue to Matt.)   Dad Prince already addressed the same issues although the issues just had a different view - Dad was insulted that his son would disreard his parent's sacrifices to marry a white girl and add so many unnecessary hurdles in his already challenging future as he steps into the traditionally white world.  Again, considering this is happening in the daughter's dad's home and we haven't heard his speech yet, this is a fitting time and place to hear Dad's summary.  Let's remember that era for what it was....obviously it was a HUGE issue for a white girl to marry a black guy.  Doesn't his speech make sense here?  Ths movie was NOT set in the 2000's where we certainly might be a bit more taken back by Spencer's speech.  I NEVER percieved it as some kind of "superior white guy giving out instructions to everyone."  Have we gotten to the point that we have to dissect classics by shoving them into today's cluture and shame them for not be so politically correct? 

In conclusion - I'm sure we all agree that this film is truly a classic;  brave, bold and poignant in a very different and challenging era.  If the film were done today, it probably would have a black doctor marrying a white girl from the wrong side of the tracks or a black high-school dropout marrying a white woman doctor.  Or a black woman doctor marrying a white addict - maybe a same sex marriage.  But it's not.  It's a classic for the issues it tackled with outstanding performances by tremendous actors.  It still resonates today and as far as I'm concerned, should be requried in every High School social studies class so that younger people are able to observe how things were, but most of all, how intellegent and sensitive people tackle HUGE issues and still end up having dinner together.  Above all, I hope that we can all watch movies (indeed, look at life in general) with our PEOPLE glaases on...not just glasses that match the color of our skin. 


Thank you so much!  Viva la TMC!!

Jan Johnson

Jan, you should join the "fun" we're having in this thread at the moment:

These are the 18 'problematic' classic films TCM will examine in a new series - General Discussions - TCM Message Boards

(...liked your comments here...welcome to the boards)

 

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Does Joey Drayton have any sort of occupation that's explicitly mentioned?

I've assumed she's still a student at 23 living on parental largesse.

While vacationing in Hawaii: "You see, John was invited to lecture at Hawaii University...and we met at this big party at the Dean's"....

Academic work combined with vacation? Or parents know the Dean socially?

Asking for a friend curious about her backstory.

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I'll welcome you here too, Jan.

Good insight to the movie.  Saw it when it came out and the controversy was more poignant.  Some of us celebrated it's tackling of the subject matter, some I knew got angry,  and still others were repelled.  And still are.

Here it is...   If the story took place in the Prince home, no speech from either paterfamilias would have been made.  Tracy's character would have been smart enough to realize any speech on his part WOULD have been out of line.  And the doctor's Dad didn't seem the speech giving type.  At least one that wouldn't sound more like a lecture.    I too, never saw Tracy's speech to be a "superior white guy giving out instructions".  That you too put that in quotes gives me the impression you've read or heard someone give that argument before.  Since I never had, can you tell us where YOU got it from?   If it WAS part of the post movie commentary on TCM I missed it.  I didn't watch it the last time TCM showed it( was somewhere else at the time.) 

Sepiatone

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Might've been more comical had she said, "colored".  given her character's supposed heritage.

Anyway, about this "White man taking charge" thing...

Who made this complaint and when?   I've never heard anything but praise for this movie when it came out, and since from both black and white reviewers.   So, why NOW, after 50+ years is it some major issue with some people?  Did they run out of valid BANDWAGONS to ride?   Isn't the ending with the white guy being OK with his daughter marrying  the black man GOOD enough?   That the only thing bothering him was the fact of the problems BOTH of them would have to face?  That and his realization that their love for each other might be strong enough to withstand those problems?   Considering which possible directions this movie could have taken and didn't should be praised.  

Seems to me it just proves my earlier point that looking hard enough,  some people will see what they WISH to.

Sepiatone

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5 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

Might've been more comical had she said, "colored".  given her character's supposed heritage.

Anyway, about this "White man taking charge" thing...

Who made this complaint and when?   I've never heard anything but praise for this movie when it came out, and since from both black and white reviewers.   So, why NOW, after 50+ years is it some major issue with some people?  Did they run out of valid BANDWAGONS to ride?   Isn't the ending with the white guy being OK with his daughter marrying  the black man GOOD enough?   That the only thing bothering him was the fact of the problems BOTH of them would have to face?  That and his realization that their love for each other might be strong enough to withstand those problems?   Considering which possible directions this movie could have taken and didn't should be praised.  

Seems to me it just proves my earlier point that looking hard enough,  some people will see what they WISH to.

Sepiatone

Actually the film has no more reality to it today than it did in 1967. The Sidney Poitier character is so unrealistically perfect (honourable, wealthy, a great career, handsome, well bred) that the film stacks any decision about rejecting him so that to do so it has to be strictly based upon his race. In the real world the Poitier character would have had a few human flaws like the rest of us to make the decision involving an interracial marriage more complicated. The screenwriters decided to keep it as simple as possible (reject him strictly because of his race or not).

Now you might counter that by saying, "Well, race is what the film is about" but that doesn't absolve the film from its unreality.

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2 hours ago, TomJH said:

Actually the film has no more reality to it today than it did in 1967. The Sidney Poitier character is so unrealistically perfect (honourable, wealthy, a great career, handsome, well bred) that the film stacks any decision about rejecting him so that to do so it has to be strictly based upon his race. In the real world the Poitier character would have had a few human flaws like the rest of us to make the decision involving an interracial marriage more complicated. The screenwriters decided to keep it as simple as possible (reject him strictly because of his race or not).

Now you might counter that by saying, "Well, race is what the film is about" but that doesn't absolve the film from its unreality.

HEY NOW, Tom! Speak for yourself here, dude!

Well okay, I guess I have to admit I DO have that one flaw anyway.

(...you know, cracking bad jokes at the drop of a hat...but HEY, there ARE worse ones people can have, ya know!!!)

;)

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52 minutes ago, Dargo said:

HEY NOW, Tom! Speak for yourself here, dude!

Well okay, I guess I have to admit I DO have that one flaw anyway.

(...you know, cracking bad jokes at the drop of a hat...but HEY, there ARE worse ones people can have, ya know!!!)

;)

You know, Dargo, in some circles having an inflated opinion of oneself constitutes a character flaw. Not that that applies to you, of course. You're just being brutally honest about your wonderfulness.

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11 minutes ago, TomJH said:

You know, Dargo, in some circles having an inflated opinion of oneself constitutes a character flaw, as well. Not that that applies to you, of course. You're just being brutally honest about your wonderfulness.

EXACTLY, Tom!!!

Now see, THIS is why I've always admired YOU and for your keen sense of insight.

Yep, you're one pretty darn insightful dude alright, Tom!

(...for a Canadian, anyway)  ;)

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9 minutes ago, Dargo said:

EXACTLY, Tom!!!

Now see, THIS is why I've always admired YOU and for your keen sense of insight.

Yep, you're one pretty darn insightful dude alright, Tom!

(...for a Canadian, anyway)  ;)

Something comforting about being part of a mutual admiration society, isn't there, Dargo? 😃

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17 hours ago, TomJH said:

Actually the film has no more reality to it today than it did in 1967. The Sidney Poitier character is so unrealistically perfect (honourable, wealthy, a great career, handsome, well bred) that the film stacks any decision about rejecting him so that to do so it has to be strictly based upon his race. In the real world the Poitier character would have had a few human flaws like the rest of us to make the decision involving an interracial marriage more complicated. The screenwriters decided to keep it as simple as possible (reject him strictly because of his race or not).

Now you might counter that by saying, "Well, race is what the film is about" but that doesn't absolve the film from its unreality.

To continue a sidetrack from the topic, but not as far as the last few posts,   I'll mention too, the unreality of the TV show that was SO popular in the '80's

THE COSBY SHOW.

Now, usually at the time, there would be an African-American psychologist who worked for the show's producers who'd go around on talk shows(like OPRAH in particular) to address this "unrealistic" charge by saying it was mostly a racist reaction.  "White people have a problem dealing with the possibility of a black family being headed by a successful doctor and living in an affluent, upscale neighborhood."  was one of his "arguments"  But actually, MY angle of it being unrealistic goes to what you were saying about Poitier's character in "Dinner".   On the Cosby show, my issue was that the parents were usually shown as never being wrong or making mistakes with their kids.  And as a parent myself, I knew we could OFTEN be wrong and make mistakes.    Seemed to me it was the psychologist who was making it about "race".    As for "Dinner"----

It was a given that Tracy would be OK with the two getting married.  The movie merely served as a soapbox for people who basically had no problem with "interracial" marriages(the quotes being a nod to the oft(by me) quoted Al Capp)  and would be not entirely about a black man and white girl wanting to get married, but how a man who was known for his strident liberal attitudes(Tracy's character) would react when faced with the advent of his daughter taking his attitudes to heart and being the girl in this case.  And although I remember the movie as being heralded as being "great" movie making and "bold" in it's tackling such a controversial topic for the times, not too much was made of the idea of a black man wanting to marry a white woman and vice-versa.  Except of course, by pinch-nosed right wing bigots who saw it as "Filthy Liberal trash aimed at dragging our country and society down to utter ruin!"  :rolleyes:

Sepiatone

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20 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

On the Cosby show, my issue was that the parents were usually shown as never being wrong or making mistakes with their kids.  And as a parent myself, I knew we could OFTEN be wrong and make mistakes.    Seemed to me it was the psychologist who was making it about "race".    

 a man who was known for his strident liberal attitudes(Tracy's character) would react when faced with the advent of his daughter taking his attitudes to heart and being the girl in this case.  

I like your take on the "perfect parent" aspect of the Cosby's.  Many these days like to use the term "reverse racism" to describe those scenarios. There is no "reverse" racism, just racism. I've always found the concept funny since humans don't come in different breeds like dogs.

 

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1 hour ago, TikiSoo said:

I like your take on the "perfect parent" aspect of the Cosby's.  Many these days like to use the term "reverse racism" to describe those scenarios. There is no "reverse" racism, just racism. I've always found the concept funny since humans don't come in different breeds like dogs.

 

Couldn't convince SOME people I know of that.  ;)    Now, somebody somewhere in here(maybe this thread, I'm not sure) mentioned the concept of the Irish being "lower than slaves", with a reply from someone, "Nobody was lower than a slave".  

Now, that could be taken two ways, neither of them a good way.  But there was a time when the Irish immigrants were looked down on as the lowest form of life by many.  And still others gave that position to Italians, Germans, Poles, Jews or any other ethnic group you can name.  You've heard of it before---

If they or their ancestors didn't step off of the Mayflower, they were scum;) 

Sepiatone

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3 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

Now, somebody somewhere in here(maybe this thread, I'm not sure) mentioned the concept of the Irish being "lower than slaves", with a reply from someone, "Nobody was lower than a slave".  

Now, that could be taken two ways, neither of them a good way.  But there was a time when the Irish immigrants were looked down on as the lowest form of life by many. 

It was me-I was quoting an article about the Duffy Massacre that happened in Philly: they were building the rail line and the work was so dangerous, slave owners wouldn't risk hiring out their slaves as laborers, so Irish Immigrants took the job being cited as "lower socially than slaves".  Awful even categorizing people. Amazing to me that Irish immigrants were once considered "scary, dirty" or "ruining America" and now the Irish are considered "pure white". Nuts.

474cbc64d629d5e5dde66124da473ebd--scotti

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WHAT!  Not enough "coolies" to work on that railroad?  :rolleyes:  

I've always dismissed the complaint of African-Americans that white people think that they're all alike.  At the same time, I've never heard any black "activist" make a distinction between  Irish, German, French, Scottish, Polish, Russian or anybody else who was white.  We're all white, and so too, all alike.  But as you know...

Many white people don't seem to like other white people if they're some other "nationality".   Hell,  some families would reject their daughter's choice in husbands if he lived in the wrong city, let alone be another national origin or "race".

We're ALL messed up! :rolleyes:

Sepiatone

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