Subtle appreciation of White middle-class bigotry
Sly looks from a White cab driver, when the central couple kiss, begins this journey into white racial paranoia and self-repressive blackness. It gleefully exposes the self-serving hypocrisy of allegedly well-meaning White liberals and their Negrophobic obsession with skin color.
Essentially a romantic manifesto about the never-ending and endemic struggles of White liberals to come-to-terms with and whitewash the White supremacism of their own culture - from which they, too, benefit. The script also struggles with the issue of institutional White racism and wisely decides to leave that to the audience's imagination since, if you do not know what the characters are referring to, then this movie is clearly not for you since you obviously do not come from around here.
The basic theme is Social Acceptance versus Happiness: Race politics being precisely the same today, despite the optimism shown here, as it was then. The film humorously confronts White supremacy as an institutionalized condition of White culture, yet there is an unacknowledged problem the White-written screenplay tellingly creates for itself.
Sidney POITIER’s character is so perfect, that any objection to him marrying a White woman must be racist. But why would such an accomplished Black man marry a White nobody?
It is because Whites believe the only equality possible between the two is that a Black person must work hard to overcome the limitations of being a Negro, in order to match the innate and already-achieved perfection of any White - no matter the White’s actual lack of personal achievements? And, moreover, that such a relationship is of political benefit to the Black, but of little utility to the White.
That the Black character here is actually superior - in many ways - to all of the Whites shown is ignored since it would mean a) that a Black can best a White; &, b) that the Black man here is actually slumming in a culture that is beneath him.
Yet, despite this hypocritical White-liberal whining, this is a well-cast movie all-round, with Katherine HEPBURN and Spencer TRACY convincing as the real couple they actually were - and funnily-written by William Rose.