Sunday, September 9, 2012

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Every now and then a movie will be on television that stops me dead in my tracks and
I drop everything to watch. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is one of those films.

Unless you have been living on a space station for the past century, Guess Who tells the story of the sudden engagement of a young girl to an African American doctor and the resulting feelings from both sets of parents. It is considered a landmark film due to not only the subject matter -- the year was 1967 -- the performances of Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier were pretty extraordinary as well (and sadly Tracy's last as he died ten days after filming ended).

The majority of the film's plot takes place in Tracy and Hepburn's spectacular house in San Francisco which of course was created on the Columbia Studios backlot. (San Franciscans will no doubt recognize the real Mel's Diner on Mission Street which was used as one of the locationa). Exteriors were shot in Pasadena and the incredible view from the terrace was merely a matte painting. Production designer Robert Clatworthy and set decorator Frank Tuttle's designs were pure vintage sixties modern and earned them an Oscar nomination for Best Art Direction. I only wish I had more shots to share and urge you to rent the DVD for a great design history lesson.

Hepburn and Tracy on set
If anyone finds themselves in Murfreesboro, Tennessee this Tuesday evening, I will be lecturing  at the Oaklands Museum and sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University.

Photo Credits: Columbia Pictures