Stories and News No. 606
Another clip from my new book, Different Loves:
Something has changed in 1967 in USA, it is appropriate to say. A mixed marriage is for the first time the central theme in a successful movie. I'm talking of course about Guess who's coming to dinner.
For those who do not remember, it was played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in the role of white parents and Sidney Poitier in the black unexpected new entry in the family. The plot is simple: Joey, a young white American girl, falls in love with Dr. Prentice (Sidney Poitier ), a black guy met during a vacation in Hawaii. The two plan to get married and she wants to go back to Switzerland with him. The film focuses on the return of Joey at home, in San Francisco, along with the boyfriend that she brings to dinner with the parents. The reactions of family and friends becomes the focal point.
All ends well, with an optimistic end.
Of course, if the new exotic arrival in the family had not been a handsome and well-mannered doctor, but rather, a necklaces and gold teeth rapper or an illegal immigrant without a residence permit, the two liberal parents would found some difficulty in accepting him.
That is to say Guess who's coming to dinner has not the merit of being the first American movie to deal with the interracial unions topic. The most successful, yes, but not the first.
In 1957 you may find the movie Band of Angels, with Clark Gable and Yvonne de Carlo. Here is the plot: In the mid-800, in Kentucky, an orphan young slave girl is bought by a wealthy landowner, who falls in love with her. When she discovers that her husband has been enriched with the slaves leaves him, but when civil war breaks out between North and South she comes back.
In this film, however, we are quite distant from Sidney Poitier’s time and, above all, Denzel Washigton or Will Smith.
In fact, the girl was played by Yvonne De Carlo, a Canadian actress, opportunity darkened to become credible in the role of the black slave in love with Gable...
Since 1967 of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner we jump to 1975 a film of solid value: Mandingo.
The story is simple. In 1840, in a cotton plantation in Louisiana, the owner obliges his son to marry his cousin Blanche. Learned that the wife is not a virgin, he takes a black lover and then Blanche - for revenge - joins a mighty slave of the tribe of Mandingo. A black child is born but the doctor kills him. Despite the harsh criticism from audiences and critics, the director Richard Fleischer made a sequel too: Drum.
In any case, here is the morality: the mixed couple becomes lawful if the purpose is a revenge and, more importantly, if the black guy has the size, in a general sense, of a mighty Mandingo.
Also on Stories and News: