Thursday, January 15, 2009


Maybe it's a coincidence. These things are scheduled ahead of time and perhaps the election hadn't been held when Turner Classic Movies made its schedule for January.

But it's hard for me to imagine, given the large advantage that Barack Obama enjoyed in the polls for several weeks before the election, that TCM was unaware of the possibility.

Anyway, on Inauguration night, TCM will show "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," which, when it was made in 1967, was somewhat shocking for its portrayal of an interracial couple informing their families of their intention to get married.

Today — especially with the son of an interracial couple about to take the oath of office as president — it seems terribly dated, but 41 years ago, it was truly groundbreaking. Interracial marriage was still illegal in more than a dozen states until the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case in June of that year.

It was also noteworthy for being the last film in the distinguished career of Spencer Tracy, who died of a heart attack 17 days after it was completed. Apparently, it was not much of a secret at the time that Tracy's health was failing, and in Tracy's final speech in the film, it is said, Katharine Hepburn's tears were genuine because she knew it represented his final on-screen appearance.

Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton played the interracial couple.