“Some critics have called Stanley Kramer‘s films out of touch, but a look now at many of them proves they were anything but,” writes Envelope columnist Pete Hammond in a just-published piece. This is “perhaps a reason why the Academy nominated six of them for the Best Picture Oscar, including Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which featured Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier in a movie about the consequences of a racially-mixed romance.
“It won Oscars for Hepburn and original screenplay, and in light of the current Barack Obama frenzy, the movie could not be more relevant, as evidenced by the audience reaction when Poitier, as a magna cum laude too-good-to-be-true doctor, pours cold water on the far-off fantasy of whether a black person could ever become secretary of state or even president.
“Obama himself is the product of just the kind of inter-racial marriage this movie portrays, and it’s not hard to imagine him now in a slightly altered version of the Poitier role, an almost perfect and brilliant Harvard-educated African American coming to dinner at the White House.
“Oh, and did we mention the name of the woman who runs Hepburn’s art gallery and strongly questions Poitier’s suitability for her daughter? Hillary.”
HE comment: I didn’t think that the beef against Stanley Kramer’s films was that they were “out of touch.” The beef was that they were too stiff and earnest in their socially liberal frame-ology, that they were so pointedly topical and issue-driven that they didn’t really breathe as drama. I nonetheless have always enjoyed and respected Kramer’s best social-issue films, which numbered four and were directed in tandem over a four-year period — The Defiant Ones, On The Beach, Inherit the Wind and Judgment at Nuremberg.
I never felt very enthused about the films he made after Nuremberg, including Ship of Fools. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner felt suffocating and sound-stagey. The Secret of Santa Vittoria, R.P.M., Bless the Beasts & Children and Oklahoma Crude were all problematic or worse.
A new DVD of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner hit the shelves yesterday.