CAIRO – 30 September 2017: The world loses a great soul that was born on September 29 is the 104 years ago, American director and producer Stanley Kramer, famous for producing films that dealt with contemporary social issues seen as taboo in Hollywood.
Born on 1913 in Manhattan, Kramer’s parents divorced when he was still young. His mother and uncle worked in Hollywood, allowing Kramer a taste of life in the movie business from an early age.
After graduating from the New York University in 1933, Kramer went to work at Hollywood right away, and after serving in WW2, producing war orientation and training films, he eventually opening up his first film company after the war, Screen Plays Inc, which helped launch the career of actor Kirk Douglas.
Kramer helped to produce a film that was amongst the first to discuss racism in Hollywood, since before then as a taboo; 1949’s Home of the Brave, which followed a black soldier in WW2 as he fought both the enemy and racism from his own team.
While it proved to a success at the box office, production of the film had to be kept an absolute secret.
Kramer would then produce 1950’s ‘The Men’, directed by Fred Zinnemann, famous for being Marlon Brando’s film debut. The film group of disabled veterans living in the aftermath of the war, as one attempted to maintain a relationship with his future wife.
Kramer would then leave to work at Columbia studios, and helped produce a string of box-office hits, starting with 1954’s The Caine Mutiny, starring the famous Humphrey Bogart about a mutiny on-board a U.S Navy warship in WWII. The film was such a hit that it was nominated for seven Oscars.
Moving on to directing, Kramer debuted in 1955 with Not As A Stranger, a hospital drama about a doctor unable to accept weaknesses that falls into a romantic affair. Starring Frank Sinatra, the film was nominated for an Oscar.
In 1958 Kramer would once again tackle racism with ‘The Defiant Ones’, which featured two escaped convicts shackled together, one white and the other black, who must put aside their differences and learn to get along. The Defiant Ones won 2 Oscars, was nominated for 7 more, and is considered to be one of his finest films.
Another controversial topic Kramer wasn’t afraid of shining a light on was, at the time, the very real fear of nuclear annihilation; 1959’s On the Beach was set in the aftermath of a nuclear war brought on by World War 3, and follows the last survivors in Australia as they realize that all life will be destroyed within a few months. The film was nominated for 2 Oscars.
Kramer was also willing to bring up the horrors of the past as well; 1961’s Judgment at Nuremberg, winner of 2 Oscars, was a harrowing courtroom drama that involved four nazi judges being tried for crimes against humanity, forced to admit and face their atrocities.
Yet Kramer wasn’t all gloom-and-doom; he event tried his hand at comedy. 1963’s It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was a humorous find the treasure story which won an Oscar, while 1969 combined racial and awkward family tension for 1967’s Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, which featured Katherine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier, who had previously starred in Kramer’s The Defiant Ones, as a white and black couple who challenge the prejudices of their parents. This film also won 2 Oscars.
Things would begin to wind down for Kramer as his films grew more and more unpopular, and he eventually gave up directing in 1979 with The Runner Stumbles, about a priest who is accused of murdering a nun he secretly loved. Though Kramer had plans to eventually direct a film about the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, nothing came of it.
Kramer quietly passed away at the age of 87 on February 19, 2001. Though criticized by some as amateur and melodramatic, his films weren’t afraid to tackle big issues and shine a searing light on injustice.