`Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' is one true cinematic treasure. This film is wonderful because it was made by one of Hollywood's greatest duos, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. I doubt audiences back then would respond to this if it wasn't for the duo. Although it would not shock me if people then would be thinking Hollywood had finally lost its edge with this one. It was a keen decision to have Kate and Spencer be the leads because in doing so they were assuring not only box-office draw -- people would be returning to watch their favorite unmarried couple bicker, lovingly, yet again -- but a strong statement.
This film was made while Spencer Tracy was dying. Spencer had to put his entire salary in escrow in order for the film company to allow him to do the film. So why did Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy agree to do this film, without immediate payment? Because it's a film about forbidden love, it's a film about loving someone no matter what society thinks, or what the rules are. This is something Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn knew a great deal about. Potier of course turns in a great performance, impeccable as always. Watch for Isabel Sanford, ("The Jefferson's") particularly the one memorable scene where she explains to Potier's character just what "black power" really is. Cecil Kellaway sparkles as Monsignor Ryan, and Beah Richards and Roy Glenn, as the parents to Potier's character, mirror Hepburn and Tracy. Katharine Houghton (Hepburn's niece), as Johanna Drayton, also done well but her inexperience is very apparent due to the heavyweight cast.
What makes this film outstanding is, by the end of the film you realize, Kate and Spencer are not even acting they are relaying their feelings about each other, through the film. Once you catch that, the drama of the final few scenes is just unparalleled and Spencer's final speech, about his love for Kate (Christina), can drive even the most twisted soul to tears.
A few things to catch in this film, watch Kate's face when Spencer recites the line, 'screw what the rest of the world thinks about your love'...those are real tears. Watch Spencer Tracey as he paces back and forth on the terrace near the end of the film. He realizes he is about to begin one of the last scenes he will ever film. He's line 'well I'll be a son of a bitch'...is more a realization he's about to make his last grandstand on the big screen, in his entire career.
There is so much real honest-to-god acting talent concentrated in this movie, it. It's such a treat to watch these legendary actors at work. I highly recommend it.