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The. Most. Infuriating.


slaytonf
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Sometimes movies just--  They outrage me so, I get so angry I can barely restrain--  What they do is so offensive--

I really must object.

I'm not talking about what happens as part of the story, inspiring righteous indignation at an unjust inequity or the like.  I'm talking about something in the way a movie, the writer or director,  treats its characters which is offensive to the most basic sense of dignity.  For example, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), a movie which even when it was made had the absurd pretext of a man seeking the approval of his intended's parents.  !.  Surely, the same issues could have been explored without using that obsolete anachronism.  And it hasn't aged well from there.  But there is a scene--it makes me angry just thinking about it--where John Prentice and his father have it out about the marriage.  Both fling things at the other, about duty and obligations for sacrifice on the father's part, and independence and freedom from the past on the son's.  But it's all so conventional. The real points are ignored.  The real gifts the father gave that contributed to John Prentice's success weren't the money and education alone, or even mostly, as they both think, but the father's example of character, conscientiousness, and dedication that enabled him to persevere and prevail in a world certainly biased against him.  What Prentice should have told his father was that deciding against the marriage would be a betrayal of everything his father offered as a role model for him, to remain committed and true to himself and his dignity.  But that's nothing.  What's really offensive about that scene comes at the end when John Prentice tells his father that he thinks of himself as a colored man, while he (John) thinks of himself as just a man. !!.  As if there was something inherently inferior about being colored!! Man, I was expecting his father to slap that sonofabit c h upside the head!  I know what would be going through my mind then. " Who the hell are you?  Who the hell are you to say that to me, you g oddamn punk? "  Like, to think of yourself with dignity as a man you have to give up your heritage.   Like you have a monopoly on self respect!

 

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56 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

What's really offensive about that scene comes at the end when John Prentice tells his father that he thinks of himself as a colored man, while he (John) thinks of himself as just a man. !!.  As if there was something inherently inferior about being colored!! Man, I was expecting his father to slap that sonofabit c h upside the head!  I know what would be going through my mind then. " Who the hell are you?  Who the hell are you to say that to me, you g oddamn punk? "  Like, to think of yourself with dignity as a man you have to give up your heritage.   Like you have a monopoly on self respect!

Have to say here slayton that this thought, the idea that Poitier's line somehow implied he thought himself in any way "superior" to his father or that Poitier was "giving up his heritage", has never crossed my mind.

(...nope, I've always felt it implied Poitier felt or at least hoped he was entering a more color-blind world, or at least one that was or would be more color-blind than the one his father had been born into just a generation earlier)

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Interesting points to note.  The central plot of the movie is built on impulse;  Joey says she and John Prentice met 11 days ago in Hawaii so that's a rather speedy courtship.    

Anyway, I think ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO is quite a better movie in regards to interracial marriage. 

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I didn't find anything offensive about John saying he thought of himself as a man instead of a colored man, and  I doubt he intended it as a slam against his heritage.

I think Dargo hit the nail on the hand that John wanted to place himself with a color-blind perspective, something that his father lacked. He was not turning his back on who he was or where he came from, rather that he saw himself and wanted others to see him as a man like anyone else, regardless of the color of his skin.

Nor do I think John was ignorant of the problems he and Joey were going to face. 

Great film that it is, I think the more pressing problem is that they've only known each other a few days before deciding to get hitched. 

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7 hours ago, Dargo said:

the idea that Poitier's line somehow implied he thought himself in any way "superior" to his father or that Poitier was "giving up his heritage", has never crossed my mind.

Maybe it should.   Put it this way, why would adding the qualifier 'colored' indicate something less of a man, or something limited as opposed to a man without it?  Try adding a different qualifier, and see if there is the same implied message of inferiority or limitation.  Like 'Asian-American', or 'Latino'.

Instead of blindness, perhaps we should strive for impartiality.  That is, to be nonjudgmental, not unaware.

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4 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

Maybe it should.   Put it this way, why would adding the qualifier 'colored' indicate something less of a man, or something limited as opposed to a man without it?  Try adding a different qualifier, and see if there is the same implied message of inferiority or limitation.  Like 'Asian-American', or 'Latino'.

Instead of blindness, perhaps we should strive for impartiality.  That is, to be nonjudgmental, not unaware.

I didn't see anything in John's use in the world 'colored' that implied he thought he was better than his father.....he was just frusterated that his father thought he had the right to tell his son how to live his life because of the sacrifices he had to make.

Maybe John should have acknowledge a bit more appreciation of how hard his dad worked to give him all the chances he had....but Mr. Prentice needed to realize that no matter how much he struggled he could not and should not dictate to his son how to live according to his father's standards.

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10 hours ago, slaytonf said:

Sometimes movies just--  They outrage me so, I get so angry I can barely restrain--  What they do is so offensive--

I really must object.

I'm not talking about what happens as part of the story, inspiring righteous indignation at an unjust inequity or the like.  I'm talking about something in the way a movie, the writer or director,  treats its characters which is offensive to the most basic sense of dignity.  For example, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), a movie which even when it was made had the absurd pretext of a man seeking the approval of his intended's parents.  !.  Surely, the same issues could have been explored without using that obsolete anachronism.  And it hasn't aged well from there.  But there is a scene--it makes me angry just thinking about it--where John Prentice and his father have it out about the marriage.  Both fling things at the other, about duty and obligations for sacrifice on the father's part, and independence and freedom from the past on the son's.  But it's all so conventional. The real points are ignored.  The real gifts the father gave that contributed to John Prentice's success weren't the money and education alone, or even mostly, as they both think, but the father's example of character, conscientiousness, and dedication that enabled him to persevere and prevail in a world certainly biased against him.  What Prentice should have told his father was that deciding against the marriage would be a betrayal of everything his father offered as a role model for him, to remain committed and true to himself and his dignity.  But that's nothing.  What's really offensive about that scene comes at the end when John Prentice tells his father that he thinks of himself as a colored man, while he (John) thinks of himself as just a man. !!.  As if there was something inherently inferior about being colored!! Man, I was expecting his father to slap that sonofabit c h upside the head!  I know what would be going through my mind then. " Who the hell are you?  Who the hell are you to say that to me, you g oddamn punk? "  Like, to think of yourself with dignity as a man you have to give up your heritage.   Like you have a monopoly on self respect!

 

As Groucho (Marx) Dargo States Here: Cant Say This Has Exactly Crossed My Mind.  Interesting Take, Though.

  By Golly Though, There Are Definitely Those Films And Flicks Out There That (Varying Degrees) Annoy and Confound me.

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11 hours ago, slaytonf said:

 

I have to completely disagree. I think that is one of the greatest lines in the history of movies. To me it says a man is a man if he lives up to the concepts of what it is to be a man. If he has integrity, if he is honorable, if he has courage, if he is honest, then he is indeed A MAN. Skin color is a mere happenstance of birth that determines nothing. That is what that line says to me. 

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I have to completely disagree. I think that is one of the greatest lines in the history of movies. To me it says a man is a man if he lives up to the concepts of what it is to be a man. If he has integrity, if he is honorable, if he has courage, if he is honest, then he is indeed A MAN. Skin color is a mere happenstance of birth that determines nothing. That is what that line says to me. 

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Just now, TansuDragon said:

I have to completely disagree. I think that is one of the greatest lines in the history of movies. To me it says a man is a man if he lives up to the concepts of what it is to be a man. If he has integrity, if he is honorable, if he has courage, if he is honest, then he is indeed A MAN. Skin color is a mere happenstance of birth that determines nothing. That is what that line says to me. 

Couldn't have said it better myself.

And welcome to the TCM board!

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3 hours ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

 

I think Dargo hit the nail on the hand

OW!!

Would have been better to hit it on the head.  ;) 

Anyway, I do agree with other posters here that I never thought the line was intended to make it seem that being "colored" was somehow inferior.  At the time, many African-Americans were striving to get across the concept of Martin Luther King that man should not be judged by the color of his skin, but the content of his character.  

I always considered that line to be the most impacting of the movie.

Sepiatone

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5 hours ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

I didn't find anything offensive about John saying he thought of himself as a man instead of a colored man, and  I doubt he intended it as a slam against his heritage.

I think Dargo hit the nail on the hand that John wanted to place himself with a color-blind perspective, something that his father lacked. He was not turning his back on who he was or where he came from, rather that he saw himself and wanted others to see him as a man like anyone else, regardless of the color of his skin.

Note that Sidney Poitier covers similar territory in Paris Blues but in this film he has more of the view of the black father in Guess Who Is Coming to Dinner.

In Paris Blues Diahann Carroll is an American traveling in Paris and Poitier is an American jazz musician that went to Paris to escape racisms and being stereotyped.   There is a good scene where Carroll tells Poitier that he is allowing "them" (it is implied racist Americans \ whites),  to define him.   That Poitier can be a free man in America and that every day there are more and  more enlightened Americans,   but unless he can define himself on his terms he would never feel "free" and himself in America.      

PS:  Just a few days ago I saw Carroll on the Dick Cavett show.    She discussed her show (first one to star a black actor),  and the over all topic.  She was just wonderful using humor to express some of the bitterness she felt.     That bitterness came from how both whites and blacks perceived her on the show.   E.g. that some felt she wasn't black enough.    

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Not to derail the conversation,  but every time I've seen the film I always wonder about Joey and what she did (career wise.)  Professional student?  Socialite living on parents' largesse?  Some of each.  Was it ever mentioned and I miss it?

I never particularly cared for her.

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14 hours ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

Maybe John should have acknowledge a bit more appreciation of how hard his dad worked to give him all the chances he had....but Mr. Prentice needed to realize that no matter how much he struggled he could not and should not dictate to his son how to live according to his father's standards.

They both have valid points and points not so valid.  My point was they (or the writer) was missing the point.  The most important thing John Prentice's father gave him was the role model he was, teaching him perseverance, conscientiousness, commitment, and staying true to oneself.  This is what made Prentice a success, and what he would be betraying if he gave up on the marriage.  He should have told his father, "Everything you taught me has led me to this.  Do you want me to turn my back on myself?"

 

13 hours ago, TansuDragon said:

I have to completely disagree. I think that is one of the greatest lines in the history of movies. To me it says a man is a man if he lives up to the concepts of what it is to be a man. If he has integrity, if he is honorable, if he has courage, if he is honest, then he is indeed A MAN. Skin color is a mere happenstance of birth that determines nothing. That is what that line says to me. 

 

14 hours ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

I didn't see anything in John's use in the world 'colored' that implied he thought he was better than his father

Prentice says that his father thinks of himself as 'colored'.  The tone of his voice says:  "You think of yourself as only a colored man."   Allowing that he does, the implication is that he accepts mainstream society's imputation of being less worthy, second class, inferior.  Prentice is posing himself as free of that. 

Think of a character saying:  You think of yourself as a white man,  I think of myself as just a man.  What is your reflexive thought about what the two men in the conversation feel about themselves?  Don't you think the speaker is saying the other man is arrogant, and feels entitled to preferences over others who are not white?  And that the speaker is posing himself as not considering himself above others?

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On 9/2/2021 at 1:08 AM, Dargo said:

Have to say here slayton that this thought, the idea that Poitier's line somehow implied he thought himself in any way "superior" to his father or that Poitier was "giving up his heritage", has never crossed my mind.

(...nope, I've always felt it implied Poitier felt or at least hoped he was entering a more color-blind world, or at least one that was or would be more color-blind than the one his father had been born into just a generation earlier)

Yes, this is the interpretation of Prentice's line about thinking of himself as a man versus a colored man that I always had, as well. Well said, Dargo.

To me the biggest insult of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is the complete lack of reality of the film's entire setup by making John Prentice a perfect man. He's handsome, articulate, a doctor and therefore a man of status and means (far greater than most white men) and is even so decent (to the extreme) that he wants his fiancee's parents' approval to his marrying their daughter before he will do so. The screenwriters so stack the deck in Prentice's favour that, for him to be rejected by the parents, the only reason left is race.

A more honest film would have had Prentice essentially a good man but with a character flaw or two like the rest of us to make him more of a real human being. It would have made Tracy's decision at the end of the film that much more complicated, of course, but also realistic. Now some might say yes, but this film is about race so other issues would distract from that. Perhaps so but at least it would have been a more honest film than the one the screenwriters have given us.

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Another one is Wait Until Dark (1967).  Here we have a small, frail newly blind lady up against a pack of murderous drug smugglers led by a psychopath.  The whole movie is one crescendo of her growing fear and terror.  But she has the intelligence, grit, and presence of mind, to outwit, outmaneuver, and ultimately outlast them all.  At the end, this great heroic woman is treated so shabbily I hardly can stand to watch the last few minutes.  In fact, I think from now on when I watch it, I won't.  So, as the police and her husband break into the apartment to discover the scene of carnage, and as she emerges from behind the refrigerator door, what does he do?  Dose he rush to her out of concern and love to comfort her?  (Oh, this makes me so mad!) No, hubbie goes through this patronizing act of teaching poor little blind girl to learn how to get around by making her walk across the rubble-strewn apartment to him.  Now, I don't blame hubbie for that, he wasn't there and couldn't know what she went through, and how she got the better of three thugs.  But the author certainly knew, and should have treated her better!

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23 hours ago, slaytonf said:

Try adding a different qualifier, and see if there is the same implied message of inferiority or limitation. 

How about "I think of myself as an Artist, not a Woman Artist"?

6 hours ago, TomJH said:

The screenwriters so stack the deck in Prentice's favour that, for him to be rejected by the parents, the only reason left is race.

That is the intention.

Amazingly, this exact situation happened in my family, except the couple were lifetime school sweethearts. The girl's father, who grew up in exactly the same time period as GWCTD? reacted horribly to his only daughter marrying someone of different heritage. But they GREW UP TOGETHER, so their background was actually the same.

So that stupidity was still prevalent when the movie was made (look at ALL IN THE FAMILY TV show) and just like in the movie, the husband is nearly perfect, a wonderful addition to our family.

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18 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

That is the intention.

 

Sure it's the intention. I indicated that in my posting. But having Prentice perfect also prevents anyone from calling the story premise realistic, as opposed to just being an artificial device to make GWCTD a transparent Hollywood liberal "message" film.

Having said that I'm glad things worked out with your "nearly perfect" different heritage addition to your family, Tiki.

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20 hours ago, Roy Cronin said:

Not to derail the conversation,  but every time I've seen the film I always wonder about Joey and what she did (career wise.)  Professional student?  Socialite living on parents' largesse?  Some of each.  Was it ever mentioned and I miss it?

I never particularly cared for her.

She was 23.     I assumed she just received her 4 year college degree and was looking into a master's program.     What I was thinking about last night related to this thread was the future career for both of them:    Doctor Prentice was doing a lot of great work in poor countries;  I assume much of this worked was funded by Americans via donations.    Would those funds dry up due to this "unique" marriage?      That would be sad,  but given the times I could see that happening.    

I like thinking all will be most rosy for the two in the future,   but the actual reality was likely to be much darker,  if not very dark.

(and something similar for Poitier in Paris Blues returning to the USA,   will life really be better than it was in Paris during the 60?,   Dexter Gordon would tell us NO).

   

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On 9/1/2021 at 11:14 PM, slaytonf said:

Sometimes movies just--  They outrage me so, I get so angry I can barely restrain--  What they do is so offensive--

I really must object.

I'm not talking about what happens as part of the story, inspiring righteous indignation at an unjust inequity or the like.  I'm talking about something in the way a movie, the writer or director,  treats its characters which is offensive to the most basic sense of dignity.  For example, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), a movie which even when it was made had the absurd pretext of a man seeking the approval of his intended's parents.  !.  Surely, the same issues could have been explored without using that obsolete anachronism.  And it hasn't aged well from there.  But there is a scene--it makes me angry just thinking about it--where John Prentice and his father have it out about the marriage.  Both fling things at the other, about duty and obligations for sacrifice on the father's part, and independence and freedom from the past on the son's.  But it's all so conventional. The real points are ignored.  The real gifts the father gave that contributed to John Prentice's success weren't the money and education alone, or even mostly, as they both think, but the father's example of character, conscientiousness, and dedication that enabled him to persevere and prevail in a world certainly biased against him.  What Prentice should have told his father was that deciding against the marriage would be a betrayal of everything his father offered as a role model for him, to remain committed and true to himself and his dignity.  But that's nothing.  What's really offensive about that scene comes at the end when John Prentice tells his father that he thinks of himself as a colored man, while he (John) thinks of himself as just a man. !!.  As if there was something inherently inferior about being colored!! Man, I was expecting his father to slap that sonofabit c h upside the head!  I know what would be going through my mind then. " Who the hell are you?  Who the hell are you to say that to me, you g oddamn punk? "  Like, to think of yourself with dignity as a man you have to give up your heritage.   Like you have a monopoly on self respect!

 

First off, you’re offended? You’re so angry & outraged that you barely restrain?! That fact alone is a WTH.

 

Secondly, there’s absolutely nothing offensive in the discussion he has with his father. It’s the father’s individual thought against his son’s individual thought. Poitier’s character was not “giving up his heritage”, but not letting that heritage and skin color define who he is. It a very simple, noble and benign concept. It’s one that should be adopted much more often than it is today, in my opinion. I had great respect for that discussion, but, even if you disagree with that (and his) very specific approach/outlook to his race  and his place in the world, with regard to that character’s life specifically…….OUTRAGE?! From a movie from the 60’s, and with that movie’s perspective in mind? You’re not even a little annoyed, but it deeply offends you?! REALLY?! Clearly, you’re part of this new culture that seeks to be offended at something, anything.

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