Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)

In Stanley Kramer's family drama on the controversial subject of inter-racial marriage:

  • the scene of liberal, upper-class mother Christina Drayton's (Katharine Hepburn) stunned first look at Dr. John Prentice (Sidney Poitier) - the black fiancee of her daughter Joey (Katharine Houghton) who had known him for only 10 days, and then her halting welcome: "I'm so pleased to meet you"; when John suggested that Christina sit down before she fell down, Joey added: "He thinks you're gonna faint because he's a Negro"
  • the scene of John Prentice honestly telling his future in-laws that he would not marry their daughter if they disapproved: ("Unless you two approve, and without any reservations at all, there won't be any marriage...It's not just that our color difference doesn't matter to her. It's that she doesn't seem to think there is any difference....Joanna is very close to both of you. If, by marrying me, she damaged her relationship with either of you, the pain of it would be too much for her. I wouldn't know how to deal with that kind of situation. In any case, I wouIdn't even want to try")
  • the driveway scene in which art gallery owner Christina dismissed the derogatory, bigoted and disapproving comments of high-society employee Hilary St. George (Virginia Christine) after she had just met John Prentice; Christina gave her instructions that ended with her firing: ("You must try not to worry about it. Now I have some instructions for you. I want you to go straight back to the gallery. Start your motor. When you get to the gaIlery, tell Jennifer she will be Iooking after things temporarily. She's to give me a ring if there's anything she can't deaI with herseIf. Then go into the office and make out a check for cash for the sum of $5,000 dollars. Then carefully, but carefully, Hilary, remove absoluteIy everything that might subsequently remind me that you had ever been there, incIuding that yellow thing with the bIue bulbs which you have such an affection for. Then take the check for $5,000 which I feel you deserve, and get permanentIy Iost. It's not that I don't want to know you, Hilary, although I don't. It's just that I'm afraid we're not really the sort of people that you can afford to be associated with. Don't speak Hilary, just -- go")
Driveway Scene - The Abrupt Dismissal of Christina's
Art Gallery Employee Hilary
  • the powerful scene of John's frank discussion with his own father (Roy E. Glenn) about their differing views on race and how they had lived in very different generations; he asserted that his father thought of himself as a black man, while John thought of himself as a man: ("You are 30 years oIder than I am. You and your whoIe Iousy generation believes the way it was for you is the way it's got to be! And not until your whoIe generation has Iain down and died wilI the deadweight of you be off our backs! You understand? You've got to get off my back. Dad. Dad. You're my father. I'm your son. I Iove you. I aIways have and I aIways wllI. But you think of yourseIf as a coIored man. l think of myseIf as a man")
  • the concluding scene of crusading newspaper publisher Matt Drayton's (Spencer Tracy in his final screen appearance) blessing of their future marriage, by citing the one most important criteria for marriage - two people who fall in love with each other - similar to his love for his own wife Christina: ("...I know exactIy how he feels about her. And there is nothing, absoIuteIy nothing that your son feeIs for my daughter that I didn't feeI for Christina. Old? Yes. Burnt out? Certainly. But l can tell you the memories are stllI there -- cIear, intact, indestructibIe. And they'll be there if l live to be 110. Where John made his mistake, I think, was attaching so much importance to what her mother and I might think. Because in the final anaIysis, it doesn't matter a damn what we think. The onIy thing that matters is what they feeI and how much they feeI for each other. And if it's haIf of what we feIt, that's everything....Anybody couId make a case, and a hell of a good case, against your getting married. The arguments are so obvious that nobody has to make them. But you're two wonderfuI peopIe who happened to fall in Iove and happen to have a pigmentation probIem. And l think that now, no matter what kind of a case some bastard couId make against your getting married, there wouId be onIy one thing worse. And that wouId be if knowing what you two are, knowing what you two have, and knowing what you two feel, you didn't get married. (pause) WelI, Tillie, when the hell are we gonna get some dinner?")

Christina Drayton
(Katharine Hepburn)

Joey with Fiancee Dr. Prentice

Dr. Prentice: "Unless you two approve, and without any reservations at all, there won't be any marriage..."

Dr. Prentice Speaking to His Father

Matt Drayton's Blessing of the Marriage


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