Thursday, August 3, 2017
This Marks A First For The Bitch Of The Week Column, Girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Over the years of this column, I have done males and females, real and fictional characters, but never an entire movie. That is now about to change.
So many movies that were classics in their time turn 50 this year. But "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" deserves to be bitched. So, this film is the first entire work of cinema to win the Raving Queen Bitch Of The Week Award.
Let's start with the fact that the film was already dated upon its release.
The tragedy that this was the great Spencer Tracy's last film, and he was reduced to Dopey Right Wing Daddy he played in both "Father Of The Bride" and "Father's Little Dividend." Those were better films, because they were honest.
As one critic--I believe it was Judith Crist--said, at the time, the film "indicates that Stanley Kramer has been watching nothing but Stanley Kramer movies, for the past twenty years." That is because, girls, the only movies that interested Stanley Kramer were Stanley Kramer movies.
My parents, who were not the most forward thinking, went to see it, in the day, but I do not think they were fooled for a minute.
This film is about as liberal as a Klan meeting. You've got Tracy as dopey Dad, backed up by Katherine Hepburn as the tremulous, outraged Liberal, but whom you can tell is seething on camera at having to speak and act this tripe, and whose true character is affronted by having a Negro--let alone even the era's bastion of Blackness, Sidney Poitier--in her house.
Poor Sidney. He got caught in the ennobling racial trap. He had already done superb service, with his poignant and touching exchange between he and Elizabeth Hartman in the much better "A Patch Of Blue," and he carried this mantle all the way through "To Sir, With Love," and even "For Love Of Ivy." But this garbage? He had to have owed something contractually to Stanley Kramer (maybe for the better "The Defiant Ones"), because I am telling you, while Poitier was Hollywood's most bankable Black actor then, I cannot imagine anyone else of that era who would have taken on this offensive role.
Then there was the vapid love interest, played by Hepburn's real life niece, Katherine Houghton. What Sophoclean inspiration thought that one up? This girl never saw another camera light again; all she had to do was smile and look vapid, which she was so convincing at she probably faced a career of playing Carson McCullers' special needs/deformed characters (on the basis of this, she might have made a good Leonora in "Reflections Of A Golden Eye"), because, what's more, she was completely unconvincing as the screen daughter of two firebrands like Hepburn and Tracy. The genetics were just so unbelievable.
This film didn't advance the race card; it trumped it! Isabel Sanford, as the maid? I don't care how sassy she is, how fashionably she is dressed, she is still doing the Hattie McDaniel, or Louise Beavers routine, so dress her properly! Hepburn's character would have had her wear that kerchief; damn right! Poor Isabel; this was long before she knew she would get " 'Ouisie," so a girl has to work and pay the bills.
I would love to hear Angela Davis, now and then, on this film. Fifty years later, it is more of an embarrassment deserving to be bitched; Time has not been kind to it.
But then, was it ever really kind to its time?
One thing this film is good for. If someone out there is suffering from some kind of stomach illness, and needs to clear things out by vomiting, I advise them to look at this film. It will work faster than Ipecac!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!