Meet the Parents, 50 Years Apart
Times change, stories evolve, traditions are shaken and perhaps shattered, relevant commentaries are made on the times we live in. Take the framing device of an independent-minded white girl bringing home her romantic partner, a smart, charismatic African American man of skilled accomplishments and bright outlook, to meet her liberal, loving mother and father at their beautiful, well-appointed home to what will hopefully be a good-humored atmosphere of gracious acceptance following a perhaps brief period of wary appraisal of their “situation.” The 2017 version of this story, debuting writer-director Jordan Peele’s deliciously subversive and harrowingly fun fable unmasking the shaky truce between races in today’s America, bearing the emphatic title Get Out, became a box-office sensation and lightning-rod conversation generator. As the year draws to an end, it’s a player on 10 Best Lists and in awards consideration. The 1967 iteration of this story, created by filmmaking veterans Stanley Kramer (producer/director) and William Rose, was coyly named Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and upon its national opening 50 years ago today, also proved a surprise popular success, got audiences and critics talking, and won two Academy Awards® (out of nine nominations) in a year, comparably cited like our present one as marked by transition in moviemaking tastes and consumption. (The movie is being offered nationwide as a special 50th-anniversary Fathom Events screening event tomorrow, Wednesday December 13.)
Weeks before Get Out’s breakout, Kramer’s widow Karen Sharpe-Kramer talked to the Los Angeles Times’ Jeffrey Fleishman about the storied history, production and legacy of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner; read it here: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-ca-guess-dinner-anniversary-20170131-story.html. After Get Out’s sensational arrival, The Smackdown’s Arthur Tiersky offered a lively side-by-side comparison of a “spiritual forefather” to a wickedly witty descendant: http://www.moviesmackdown.com/2017/04/get-2017-vs-guess-whos-coming-dinner-1967/. Happily, the craft, dedication and sincerity of two diverse filmmaking generations complement and energize each other and Twilight Time’s lovely – and attractively bargain-priced – hi-def Blu-ray of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, starring Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn (Oscar® winner), Katharine Houghton, Cecil Kellaway (Oscar® nominee), Beah Richards (Oscar® nominee), Roy Glenn and Isabel Sanford, keeps this entertaining breakthrough classic in the dinner table conversation.