GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967)

Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn co-starred for the ninth and final time in this romantic comedy focusing on race relations. They star as a couple whose liberal values are tested when their daughter (Hepburn’s niece Katharine Houghton) announces her engagement to a black doctor (Sidney Poitier). The film was a breakthrough in dealing positively with interracial romance and, with the success the same year of Poitier’s In the Heat of the Night and To Sir, with Love, proved that films dealing with racial issues could do well at the box office. In fact, GUESS WHO’S  COMING TO DINNER was Columbia Pictures’ top-grossing film up to that time. For the studio, the big gamble was Tracy’s declining health. He had not made a film since producer-director Stanley Kramer’s It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) four years earlier. With no insurance company willing to cover him, Hepburn and Kramer put their salaries in escrow as collateral in case he died during production. With a lightened work schedule, he made it through but died 17 days after shooting his last scene, and Hepburn was never able to watch the completed film.

(d. Stanley Kramer, 108m, Digital)

 

In attendance: KATHARINE HOUGHTON, DONALD BOGLE