Stanley Kramer

Producer, Director, Researcher
Stanley Kramer made his reputation during the 1950s and 60s as one of the few producers and directors willing to tackle issues most studios sought to avoid, such as racism, the Holocaust and nuclear annihilation. He ... Read more »
Born: 09/28/1913 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Producer (32)

The Runner Stumbles 1978 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Domino Principle 1976 (Movie)

(Producer)

Oklahoma Crude 1973 (Movie)

(Producer)

Bless The Beasts & Children 1971 (Movie)

(Producer)

R.P.M. 1969 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Secret of Santa Vittoria 1969 (Movie)

(Producer)

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 1966 (Movie)

(Producer)

Ship of Fools 1965 (Movie)

(Producer)

Invitation to a Gunfighter 1964 (Movie)

(Producer)

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World 1963 (Movie)

(Producer)

Pressure Point 1962 (Movie)

(Producer)

A Child Is Waiting 1961 (Movie)

(Producer)

Judgment at Nuremberg 1961 (Movie)

(Producer)

Inherit the Wind 1960 (Movie)

(Producer)

On the Beach 1959 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Defiant Ones 1958 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Pride and the Passion 1957 (Movie)

(Producer)

Not As a Stranger 1955 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Caine Mutiny 1954 (Movie)

(Producer)

The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T 1953 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Juggler 1953 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Wild One 1953 (Movie)

(Producer)

High Noon 1952 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Four Poster 1952 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Happy Time 1952 (Movie)

(Producer)

Death of a Salesman 1951 (Movie)

(Producer)

Champion 1949 (Movie)

(Producer)

My Six Convicts (Movie)

(Producer)

The Member of the Wedding (Movie)

(Producer)

The Men (Movie)

(Producer)

The Moon and Sixpence (Movie)

(Associate Producer)

The Sniper (Movie)

(Producer)
Director (16)

The Runner Stumbles 1978 (Movie)

(Director)

The Domino Principle 1976 (Movie)

(Director)

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Director

Oklahoma Crude 1973 (Movie)

(Director)

Bless The Beasts & Children 1971 (Movie)

(Director)

R.P.M. 1969 (Movie)

(Director)

The Secret of Santa Vittoria 1969 (Movie)

(Director)

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 1966 (Movie)

(Director)

Ship of Fools 1965 (Movie)

(Director)

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World 1963 (Movie)

(Director)

Judgment at Nuremberg 1961 (Movie)

(Director)

Inherit the Wind 1960 (Movie)

(Director)

On the Beach 1959 (Movie)

(Director)

The Defiant Ones 1958 (Movie)

(Director)

The Pride and the Passion 1957 (Movie)

(Director)

Not As a Stranger 1955 (Movie)

(Director)
Actor (7)

AFI Salute to Sidney Poitier 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Anthony Quinn 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Montgomery Clift: His Place in the Sun 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Cary Grant: The Leading Man 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Grace Kelly -- The American Princess 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Journey Into Self 1968 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)
Other (3)

Hotel Terminus: Klaus Barbie, His Life and Times 1988 (Movie)

assistance (Assistant)

Journey Into Self 1968 (Movie)

(Technical Advisor)

So Ends Our Night 1940 (Movie)

(Production Assistant)

Biography

Stanley Kramer made his reputation during the 1950s and 60s as one of the few producers and directors willing to tackle issues most studios sought to avoid, such as racism, the Holocaust and nuclear annihilation. He came to Hollywood an aspiring writer and hooked on with MGM, working first as a scenery mover and carpenter and then in their research department before spending three years there as an editor. He wrote for radio as well as for Columbia and Republic Studios for awhile, but it was as a strong-willed independent producer that Kramer would finally make his mark. Though his first feature ("So This Is New York", 1948) flopped, he hit his stride with his next one, the intense and exciting anti-boxing pic "Champion" (1949), which propelled Kirk Douglas to stardom and launched Mark Robson's career as an important director.

The series of commercially successful economy productions that followed, by turns prestigious and socially responsible and all scripted by "Champion" screenwriter Carl Foreman, established Kramer as bankable in the industry's eyes. Both Robson's "Home of the Brave" (1949), which addressed the persecution of a black soldier by his white comrades, and Fred Zinnemann's "The Men" (1950), a drama about paraplegic war veterans featuring Marlon Brando in his first screen role, were melodramas with provocatively modern and relevant situations and settings. Kramer then took a holiday from the contemporary tracts with "Cyrano de Bergerac" (1950), a film that earned a Best Actor Oscar for Jose Ferrer. By the time the last and best of these, the allegorical Western "High Noon" (1952), won an aging Gary Cooper a Best Actor Oscar (among the four it received), Kramer had already made his deal with the devil, having agreed to produce 30 films over a five year period for Columbia.

Money spoiled the look Kramer had managed to give his independent pictures. The films he oversaw for Columbia were glossier and closer in "production values" to other big-studio productions but lacked the do-it-yourself excitement of his earlier work, and all but the last one lost money. Edward Dmytryk's hugely successful screen version of Herman Wouk's "The Caine Mutiny" (1954) would cover the losses of the other nine, but Columbia had already seen enough and bought out his contract before the film's release, opening the door for him to fulfill a long-standing ambition to direct as well as produce his films. Although his films for Columbia fell below the standards he had set on his own, most boasted fine acting and probably deserved better than they got, but adaptations of "Death of a Salesman" (1951) and "Member of the Wedding" (1952) proved too highbrow for the public while the remarkable cult children's film "The Five Thousand Fingers of Dr T" (1953), a fantasy devised by Dr Seuss, was just a little too "out there" for the times.

"Not As a Stranger" (1955), a melodramatic hospital story which critics disparaged as well-acted fluff, started Kramer's directing career off with a commercial bang, but his second film, "The Pride and the Passion" (1957), was the silliest project he ever undertook. "The Defiant Ones" (1958), regarded by many as his best directorial effort, returned to the race card and began his ten-year run as one of the most successful (and certainly the most earnest) directors in Hollywood. Kramer then tackled the problem of The Bomb itself with "On the Beach" (1959), arranging its simultaneous release in 18 cities, including Moscow, to help save the world, before helming two courtroom dramas based on real events, "Inherit the Wind" (1960), the gripping tale of the Scopes' "monkey" trial, and "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961), his indictment of Nazi war atrocities. Although the subject matter addressed was always important, Kramer's excessive forthrightness stacked the deck to manipulate sentiment, causing many critics to resent his heavy-handedness, no one more than Pauline Kael who repeatedly assailed his "self-righteous, self-congratulatory" tone.

After picking up the 1961 Irving G Thalberg Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his social responsibility, Kramer switched to comedy, giving slapstick a black eye with his overly ambitious "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" (1963), before returning to the more serious terrain of Katherine Anne Porter's novel "Ship of Fools" (1995), which he dispatched in an absorbingly well-paced, tidily knit adaptation. Of course, the audience could not possibly miss the point that the world's weakness permitted Hitler's rise since there was an urbane and sardonic dwarf (Michael Dunn) to spell it out for them, yet despite the lack of subtlety exhibited during his heyday, Kramer consistently put great acting on display. His last big success, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967), was no exception, offering sterling performances by Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn that overcame a saccharine screenplay which nonetheless dealt with the then relatively taboo subject of interracial marriage. Could any eye stay dry at its end when he sustained that two shot of Tracy in profile on the left foreground of the screen and Hepburn, her eyes brimming with tears, in the right background looking at the love of her life knowing full well he is not long for the world?

Of Kramer's remaining six films, "Oklahoma Crude" (1973), with its careful attention to period detail and fine performances by Faye Dunaway, George C Scott and Jack Palance, was probably the best, but after increasingly negative notices for "The Domino Principle" (1977) and the downright disastrous "The Runner Stumbles" (1979), there were no longer any studios willing to sponsor the man once regarded as the "conscience" of Hollywood. The hostility of the critical establishment towards Kramer is no doubt to some extent a reaction against the excessive praise which greeted his early work, but there can also be little doubt that he achieved his highest quality of artistic expression as an independent producer of the late 40s and early 50s, benefiting from fine scripts by Carl Foreman and the complementary vision of his men at the helm. Though flawed by their lack of even-handedness, his pictures as a producer-director were invariably intelligent, ambitious and well-intentioned efforts striking morally (and commercially) responsive chords for their times. In his later years, Kramer often turned up on TV interview documentaries about Hollywood's past, proving himself a lively raconteur and unabashed fan of the many talented people with whom he had worked. In 1997, he published his memoirs, "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: A Life in Hollywood".

Relationships

Casey Kramer

Daughter
mother, Anne Pearce acted in father's "The Runner Stumbles" (1979)

Karen Kramer

Wife
married in 1977

Jennifer Kramer

Daughter
studied acting with Mike Nichols mother, Karen Sharpe acted in "The Runner Stumbles"

Katherine Kramer

Daughter
born c. 1968 mother, Karen Sharpe acted in "The Runner Stumbles"

Larry Kramer

Son
mother, Anne Pearce died October 31, 2010 due to complications from a fall

Anne Pearce

Wife
married in 1950 divorced died on December 3, 2000 at age 74

EDUCATION

DeWitt Clinton High School

New York , New York

New York University

New York , New York 1933
contributed to monthly publication NYU Medley

Milestones

1997

Published autobiography, "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World: A Life in Hollywood", written with Thomas M Coffey

1982

Was the subject of the TV documentary, "Stanley Kramer on Film"

1979

Last feature directing and producing credit to date, "The Runner Stumbles"

1975

Created, produced and directed the ABC comedy pilot, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", based on his 1967 feature film

1974

Directed the three ABC-TV documentary specials, "Judgment: The Trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg", "Judgment: The Court-Martial of the Tiger of Malaya, General Yamashita" and "Judgment: The Court-Martial of Lt. William Calley"; Kramer also produced and

1968

Was an interviewee on the ABC documentary special, "Sophia", a biography of Sophia Loren

1967

Last film with Tracy (and Tracy's last film), "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", was also Kramer's last major success; earned Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and as Best Director

1967

Appeared on the NBC documentary special, "Bogart", a portrait of Humphrey Bogart

1965

Returned to more serious fare with film version of Katherine Anne Porter's "Ship of Fools"; film nominated for Best Picture Oscar

1964

Last feature producing credit on a film he did not also direct, "Invitation to a Gunfighter", directed by Richard Wilson

1963

Turned to comedy for "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World", achieving mixed results

1961

Returned to the courtroom with "Judgment at Nurenberg", a fictionalized account of the prosecution of German War criminals following WWII; Oscar nominated as producer (Best Picture) and Best Director

1960

First of four movies with Spencer Tracey, the screen adaptation of "Inherit the Wind", about the 1925 Scopes' "monkey" trial

1959

Depicted the world facing nuclear destruction in "On the Beach", arranging for it to open simultaneously in 18 cities, including Moscow; the noted scientist and anti-nuclear advocate Linus Pauling speculated, "It may be that some years from now we can loo

1958

Helmed "The Defiant Ones", regarded by most critics as his best directorial effort; Kramer earned Academy Award nominations for Best Picture (as producer) and Best Director

1955

First film as director, "Not as a Stranger", a smash hit which critics decried as a trashy trifle

1954

Columbia bought out his contract before release of "The Caine Mutiny", reacting to heavy losses incurred by its predecessors; film earned Kramer an Oscar nomination

1952

Garnered first Academy Award nomination as producer of "High Noon"

1951

Production unit became the Stanley Kramer Company, committed to producing 30 films in five years for Columbia

1949

Scored first commercial success as producer with "Champion" (also based on a Lardner tale), which brought stardom to Kirk Douglas, Ruth Roman and Lola Albright and launched Mark Robson's career as an important director

1949

Began addressing social issues with "Home of the Brave"

1948

Produced first film, "So This Is New York", based on Lardner's "The Big Town"

1941

Was an associate producer of "The Moon and Sixpence", directed by Albert Lewin

1940

Was a production assistant on the feature, "So Ends Our Night", directed by John Cromwell

1936

Joined a short film unit at MGM headed by Jack Chertok; worked as a production assistant

1934

Worked in MGM's editing department for three years (dates approximate)

Worked briefly for MGM's research department

Wrote for radio programs including "Big Town", a CBS program featuring Edward G. Robinson, and "The Rudy Vallee Show"

Worked for MGM as a scenery mover and as a carpenter

Established Screen Plays Inc with Sam Katz, Carl Foreman and George Glass as partners, acquiring the rights to the stories of Ring Lardner

Moved to Hollywood after graduating from college

Moved from California to Seattle where he taught at the University of Washington and at Bellevue Community College

Was on the writing staffs at both Columbia and Republic Studios

Made training and orientation films for the Signal Corps during WWII, emerging as a first lieutenant

Appeared on a number of Cinemax's "Crazy About the Movies" specials focusing on Grace Kelly, Montgomery Clift, Cary Grant, and Anthony Quinn

Bonus Trivia

.

Some sources list September 23 as Mr. Kramer's birthdate.

.

"I am not completely conscious of the political or social significance of a film at the time of the selection of material. It may be something which appeals to me very much, perhaps emotionally, and it may be that I am attracted by things which are social in terms of my own emotions. That seems . . . to be the premise on which I start . . . In the last three films we have dealt with the problems of the Negro in America; the problem on the nuclear family, as it's called; and the problem of the right of a schoolteacher to teach freely . . . These have been things which I felt were dramatic because they were a cross section of the times in which we live." --Stanley Kramer, quoted in FILMS AND FILMING, June 1960

.

Kramer's biggest disappointment was "Ship of Fools": "I thought it would be a classic. Boy, was I wrong. I overproduced it and overdirected it. I blame myself." --Kramer quoted by THE NEW YORK TIMES, September 19, 1997

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