Saw “The Defiant Ones” (Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis as escaped cons manacled together) and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (Sidney Poitier wanting to marry Kate Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s daughter in 1967 America) last night.
Both were directed by Stanley Kramer, whose other films include On the Beach (a classic, I’m sure you’ll agree), The Caine Mutiny and Judgement at Nuremburg.
Of the first – well, Curtis and Poitier are very ‘nice’ criminals, who redeem each other. And Poitier has to do his saint schtick. According to sources (which I forgot to get hyperlinks for) the film was v. unusual in that it went from conception to release in three months, in total secrecy. The idea of black and white co-operation must have seemed very very shocking back in the day.
Of “Dinner” – well, what an odd thing. Every is so terribly terrribly decent and articulate and stonkingly good and rich. Poitier re-does his saint schtick as the widowed doctor who falls in love with the daughter of a very wealthy liberal newspaper editor. Played by Spencer Tracy, he’d have one (a negro) in his house, but would he let his daughter marry one, eh? Most of the best lines go to the monsignor, who revels in his old friend’s discomfort (lines about seeing a liberal’s ideals bumping up against reality, etc). Poitier’s mum gets to call out old men for having forgotten what love is, but the potential messiness of it all is resolved with… a speech by the Patriarch. Of course.