Acting

Katharine Hepburn in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – Movie Monologue Monday

Last week we looked at Spencer Tracy’s remarkable performance in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. This week we’re looking at Katharine Hepburn in the same film. (Thanks to Lawrence Weeks for the tip!)

Joanna (Katharine Houghton) has brought her new fiancee (Sidney Poitier) home to meet her parents (Tracy and Hepburn). The main conflict of the film is that her fiancee is black. Interracial marriages were almost unheard of at the time this film was made.

Hillary St. George (Virginia Christine) is Hepburn’s coworker/employee and doesn’t look too kindly on the situation. Here is Hepburn’s response.

Class Exercise

Watch the video and discuss these questions. Don’t worry about whether or not everyone has seen the whole movie. Fill in the missing details using what you see, hear, and imagine.

  • At the beginning of the monologue we see Hepburn leaning against the car. She spends much of her time looking away from Hillary. Why do you think that is? (Hint: Discuss two possibilities. One is an acting choice. The other has to do with the location of the camera and the importance of seeing Hepburn’s face)
  • Write Hillary’s internal monologue during the speech. What is she thinking? Remember – she doesn’t know what’s going to be said until it’s said.
  • Why does Hepburn pause between the words “Get… permanently… lost…”?
  • Apart from the pause during the actual firing, the monologue is delivered at a pretty quick pace. Why?
  • As the car is leaving, Hepburn stands for a moment before returning to the house. What is she thinking?
  • Discuss the differences between the two characters in terms of hair, makeup, and costume. Why is each character presented so differently?
  • Why doesn’t Hillary speak or try to defend herself?

About the author

Craig Mason