Equality for All
Stanley Kramer’s film, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, is about an interracial marriage between a black man and a white woman as well as the generational divide between the alarmed parents of both races and the optimistic young couple. There are aspects of the film that can be construed as progressive and influential for the era, the film more accurately serves as a reflection of the larger socio-political context of 1960’s America in regards to both attitudes of antagonism and acceptance of interracial marriage. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner addressed a forbidden subject during the pinnacle of cultural changes in America. This film is brilliantly put together, and part of that reason is because of the outstanding cast. The cast consisted of these now well-known stars: Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn, and featuring Hepburn's niece Katharine Houghton. However, for political reasons, it failed to dig deep and represent the true issues that were apart of race during the 1960′s. “Dispute over whether or not the Draytons’ will approve of their daughter’s marriage is at the center of the movie yet the real reasons of why they are concerned never came up. Matt’s whole confusion is very elusive and points to no real motive, which is a cover up to hide the racist tendencies” (Courtney 2005, 272-280). For a film that tries to evoke a sense of progression and equality, it most certainly fails in the representation of Tillie, the Drayton’s maid. Tillie easily falls into the category of a modern day mother as her whole role in the movie is to serve the Drayton’s. Although she vocalizes her opinion, she is disregarded by her employers reinforcing a white control over the situation. The idea of white male control is what moves the plot of the whole movie. Matt Drayton’s decision whether or not he will approve the marriage if the ultimate and final decision on the subject. As such his word is more powerful than the women in his life and a black man’s legal right to marry. A huge point that is just glossed over, simply through Matt never revealing any truly racial hesitations and ultimately approving the marriage. (Terry 1968) The release of the film occurred at the height of the Civil Rights movement in America, when whites and blacks alike were fighting for social, political, and economic equality. “The film also emerged just after the Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, which banned all laws prohibiting interracial marriage in America. Prior to this decision, sixteen States still outlawed interracial marriage” (Harris and Toplin, 2007). Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’s discussion of interracial marriage was revolutionary for the period and only briefly references how some aspects of the film could be interpreted as a reflection of American society at large. However, closer investigation of the film demonstrates the differing overall concept. Some aspects of Kramer’s dramatization were progressive and influential for the era, the film more accurately serves as a reflection of the larger social and political context of 1960’s America in regards to both attitudes of opposition and acceptance of interracial marriage. While films and filmmakers can influence culture and society, they are also produced by it. These nonstop disputes prove that a complex relationship does exist between society and film, and, depending on the movie, films can and have acted as either influential or progressive forces in society, or a larger reflection of that society. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner can therefore also be construed as a film which represents both sides of this relationship. The film is both liberal and effective in 1960’s America and is a classic today for a reason. First, the film addresses interracial marriage from the relationship of a black man and white woman, instead of a black woman and white man, thereby intentionally addressing the forbidden relationship in American society....
Please join StudyMode to read the full document