Stanley Kramer


Stanley Earl Kramer (September 29, 1913 – February 19, 2001) was an American film director and producer, responsible for making many of Hollywood’s most famous “message films.” As an independent producer and director, he brought attention to topical social issues that most studios avoided, such as racism, nuclear war (in On the Beach), greed, creationism vs. evolution, and the causes and effects of fascism. His best known films include The Defiant Ones (1958), with Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier; On the Beach (1959), with Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, and Anthony Perkins; Inherit the Wind (1960), with Spencer Tracy, Frederic March, Gene Kelly, Dick York, Harry Morgan, Donna Anderson, Claude Akins, Noah Beery Jr., Florence Eldridge, and Jimmy Boyd; Judgement at Nuremberg (1961), with Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Maximilian Schell, Werner Klemperer, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, William Shatner, and Montgomery Clift; It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), with Tracy, Edie Adams, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Dorothy Provine, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, and Jonathan Winters; Ship of Fools (1965), with Vivien Leigh (in her final film role), Simone Signoret, José Ferrer and Lee Marvin; Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), with Tracy (in his last role), Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, and Katharine Houghton; Oklahoma Crude (1973), with George C. Scott, Faye Dunaway, John Mills and Jack Palance.

His notable films as producer included Mark Robson’s Champion (1949), with Kirk Douglas, Marilyn Maxwell, and Arthur Kennedy; Home of the Brave (1948), with Douglas Dick, Jeff Corey, Lloyd Bridges, Frank Lovejoy, James Edwards, and Steve Brodie; Fred Zinnermann‘s The Men (1950), with Marlon Brando, Teresa Wright, and Everett Sloane; László Benedek’s Death of a Salesman (1951), with Fredric March, Mildred Dunnock, Kevin McCarthy, and Cameron Mitchell; Zinnermann’s High Noon (1952), with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly; Edward Dmytryk’s The Caine Mutiny (1954), with Humphrey Bogart, José Ferrer, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, and Robert Francis, and John Cassavetes A Child Is Waiting (1963), with Burt Lancaster and Garland.

Director Steven Spielberg described him as an “incredibly talented visionary,” and “one of our great filmmakers, not just for the art and passion he put on screen, but for the impact he has made on the conscience of the world.” Kramer was recognized for his fierce independence as a producer-director, with author Victor Navasky writing that “among the independents . . . none seemed more vocal, more liberal, more pugnacious than young Stanley Kramer.” His friend, Kevin Spacey, during his acceptance speech at the 2015 Golden Globes, honored Kramer’s work, calling him “one of the great filmmakers of all time.”

Despite uneven critical reception, both then and now, Kramer’s body of work has received many awards, including 16 Academy Awards and 80 nominations, and he was nominated nine times as either producer or director. In 1961, he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. In 1963, he was a member of the jury at the 3rd Moscow International Film Festival. In 1998, he was awarded the first NAACP Vanguard Award in recognition of “the strong social themes that ran through his body of work”. In 2002, the Stanley Kramer Award was created, to be awarded to recipients whose work “dramatically illustrates provocative social issues.”

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

Producer and Director

  • Not as a Stranger (1955)
  • The Pride and the Passion (1957)
  • The Defiant Ones (1958)
  • On the Beach (1959)
  • Inherit the Wind (1960)
  • Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
  • It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
  • Ship of Fools (1965)
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
  • The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1968)
  • R.P.M. (1970)
  • Bless the Beasts and Children (1971)
  • Oklahoma Crude (1973)
  • Judgment: The Trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (1974)
  • The Domino Principle (1977)
  • The Runner Stumbles (1979)


  • So This Is New York (1948) – directed by Richard Fleischer
  • Champion (1949) – directed by Mark Robson
  • Home of the Brave (1949) – directed by Mark Robson
  • The Men (1950) – directed by Fred Zinnermann
  • Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) – directed by Michael Gordon
  • Death of a Salesman (1951) – directed by László Benedek
  • High Noon (1952) – directed by Fred Zinnemann
  • The Sniper (1952) directed by Edward Dmytryk
  • The Happy Time (1952) – directed by Richard Fleischer
  • The Member of the Wedding (1952) – directed by Fred Zinnemann
  • Eight Iron Men (1952) – directed by Edward Dmytryk
  • The Wild One (1953) – directed by László Benedek
  • The Juggler (1953) – directed by Edward Dmytryk
  • The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953) – directed by Roy Rowland
  • The Caine Mutiny (1954) – directed by Edward Dmytryk
  • Pressure Point (1962) – directed by Hubert Cornfield
  • A Child Is Waiting (1963) – directed by John Cassavetes