When I was small, the movie theater near our house had a special matinee on Saturday afternoons – films for kids for 25 cents. My friend Laura and I went every week. Sometimes it was a Disney film, but mostly we saw all the old Lewis and Martin movies, and for a while they were on an Elvis kick – saw all his films. So – as I think it’s pretty odd that I’m a film freak and yet rarely blog about films – I will occasionally have a Saturday matinee here and remember some of my favourite films of all time. I must give fair warning, though…most of my faves are golden oldies, with only a few modern films tossed into the mix. So get your popcorn, here we go.
I do not really have a fan personality, I never did, I wasn’t the type to idolize movie stars and plaster their pictures on my walls. (A few rock stars, maybe, but that’s all.) If there is one actor in the world whom I do idolize, it would have to be Katharine Hepburn. Only with her do I confess to being a fan – I have her books, official and unofficial biographies, books about her films, and many many of her films on tape and dvd. I was also blessed to have seen her on stage, in two different plays, and I am still in awe.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was made in 1967, the Civil Rights movement was in the news, and Kate and Spencer Tracy played a liberal couple who are nevertheless shocked when their daughter brings her new – and black – fiancé home for dinner. The young doctor’s parents arrive as well, just as shocked and dismayed. The couple plans to be married immediately, and leave that night for Geneva and the doctor’s post with the World Health Organization.
This was Spencer Tracy’s last film, and his ninth with Hepburn. He was so ill that all the actors had to agree to waive their salaries if he died during the filming. They did. This last scene of the film became his “last words”, and he was, as always, magnificent. It is all the more poignant since he died ten days after they finished filming it.
Despite the parents coming to terms with their own doubts and fears, the scene that is possibly my favourite film moment of all time is Kate’s reaction to her gallery employee, who having caught a glimpse of the young couple, shows up with a trumped up story in order to snoop and “commiserate”. The incomparable Kate’s response, her timing, her tone, is purely and simply wonderful.
Have a great week.