Guess Who's Coming To Dinner - Summary


The film tells the story of Joanna "Joey" Drayton (Katharine Houghton), a young white woman who has had a whirlwind romance with Dr. John Prentice (Sidney Poitier), a young, idealistic black physician she met while in Hawaii. The plot centers on Joanna’s return to her liberal upper-class American home in San Francisco, bringing her new fiancé to dinner to meet her parents (newspaper publisher Matt Drayton (Spencer Tracy), perhaps a Hearst characterization, and his wife, small art gallery owner Christina Drayton (Katharine Hepburn)).

Brought up by her parents as a liberal, Joanna finds it difficult to comprehend the behavior of her parents on meeting John. While they taught her to treat blacks and members of other racial groups as equals, they cannot accept their daughter's actions, for they did not expect her to introduce to them a black man as their future son-in-law. John's parents (Roy E. Glenn, Beah Richards) fly up from Los Angeles to the Draytons' dinner but don't know that Joanna is white until they meet her. Monsignor Ryan (Cecil Kellaway), a senior Catholic priest friend of Matt, is also present at dinner and is a voice for tolerance.

The film depicts the reaction of family and friends, and the discomfort of their parents, as all try to accept the couple's choice. The film also touches on black-on-black racism when John is taken to task by his father and the household maid Tillie (Isabel Sanford) for his perceived presumption. Unbeknown to Joey, John conditions the marriage as dependent upon the approval of Matt, whose decision in turn faces a deadline dependent on John's tight airline flight schedules.

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