“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” has been the inspiration for many-a film and stage production, since the Stanley Kramer-directed film satiated white liberals across America in the late 1960s.
As I recall, even the Coen Brothers were considering remaking the film, as reported on this site in 2011, when the pair told the New York Times that they were itching to take it on, although, at the time, they said that it was just a “thought experiment,” with Ethan Coen sharing that it would be “a kind of Gus van Sant shot-by-shot remake,” adding that it would be “an exercise in pure style.””
Of course he was referring to Gus van Sant’s needless remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic “Psycho,” which was very poorly received, as it should have been, making it a somewhat puzzling reference.
Nothing ever came of the Coen Bros. revelation however, and maybe thankfully. Although I was actually intrigued by the idea, if only to help me forget the nonsense 2005 “loose remake” of the film (swapping races of key players) with Ashton Kutcher, Zoe Saldana and the late Bernie Mac starring. Then again, it’s not like the original was flawless.
The film has traveled well over the years, reaching audiences worldwide, and also seemingly inspiring filmmakers to make their own versions of it – 2 of which I share with you today, starting with Nigerian-American filmmaker Fum-Fum KO, which is titled “Guess Who‘s Coming to Dinner: Naija Edition” – Naija as in Nigeria for the unaware.
The film’s synopsis reads: Ade is a young Nigerian-American woman with a great career, good friends, and loving family. Together we follow her as she vacillates between introducing her new love to her family or keeping her new relationship a secret. Should she tell her family about her new romance? How will they react? What we do know is that Ade’s family will have to rethink everything they know about love. This dark comedy explores the complexities of love and its relationship between modern and traditional respectability. Join us as we re-examine the boundaries of love and identity.
The trailer for “Guess Who‘s Coming to Dinner: Naija Edition” is at the bottom of this post.
Second is also from a Nigerian transplant, but living in London, not the USA – writer/director Tony Sebastian Ukpo, whose film’s title isn’t as obvious: “Mum, Dad, Meet Sam.” It tells the London-set story of Josiah Abiola, who is at the peak of his career. The only thing left is to find the perfect girl to settle down with. He meets and falls in love with the “stunning, intelligent and perfect” Samantha Smith and decides to take her home to meet his family… home as in Nigeria. What is supposed to be a special occasion turns out to be their worst nightmare. Throw in a devious ex girlfriend, an over protective, over-dramatic mother, and the fact that Sam is, well, white and British, and you have a recipe for “an explosive and disastrous encounter ripe with awkwardness and hilarity.”
Both films are a couple of years old, I should note.
But I mention both of them because I received a press release reminder that the original “Guess Who‘s Coming to Dinner” celebrates a golden milestone next year (2017) – its 50th anniversary (it was originally released in 1967). And with that reminder came an announcement that a 50th anniversary edition Blu-ray will be released on February 7, 2017, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
This edition is digitally restored and will be presented for the first time in Digibook packaging, with rare photos and an all-new essay from Gil Robertson, the co-founder and president of the African American Film Critics Association.
The film, starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier, addressed key issues that remain relevant today with its story of a couple whose liberal attitudes are challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African American fiancé.
Originally released in 1967, “Guess Who‘s Coming to Dinner” was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning two, including Best Actress for the legendary Hepburn.
The Blu-ray disc includes the following bonus features:
— Introductions by Tom Brokaw, Quincy Jones, Karen Kramer and Steven Spielberg
— Three Featurettes: “A Love Story of Today” Featurette; “A Special Kind of Love” Featurette; Stanley Kramer: A Man’s Search for Truth
— 2007 Producers Guild of America “Stanley Kramer” Award Presentation to Al Gore
— Stanley Kramer Accepts The Irving Thalberg Award
— Photo Gallery
— Theatrical Trailer
Instead of the trailer for the original film, which you’ve probably seen countless times, watch teasers for both “Guess Who‘s Coming to Dinner: Naija Edition” and “Mum, Dad, Meet Sam” below.