Kramer, SIMPP member.
SIMPP Member (1948-1958)
Two new members of SIMPP during the postwar period survived the independent
production shakedown to show that the independent movement and the Society
itself were still viable. Sam Spiegel and Stanley
Kramer represented the generation of independent producers who received their
apprenticeships during the tail end of the studio system, and then came into
their own as independent producers in the post-Paramount film industry.
Stanley Kramer, the fiercely independent filmmaker, continued to produce
successful films well into the television era. His experience with the major
studios reached back to 1933, and he was something of a lower-budget operator
before he joined SIMPP in 1948. But lacking the same immersion in the Hollywood
business establishment as the SIMPP veterans, his entrance into the independent
community was refreshing. Kramer broke through the Hollywood blacklist by freely
hiring many artists subpoenaed by the HUAC. He championed a unique brand of
social consciousness in order "to use film," he stated, "as a
real weapon against discrimination, hatred, prejudice, and excessive
Stanley Kramer went independent at the end of World War II, in a joint
venture with Armand S. Deutsch, one of the heirs to the Sears, Roebuck fortune.
The partnership was short-lived as Deutsch decided to buy out his partner and
form an independent production company with Hal Horne. (The Horne-Deutsch
production company called Story Productions Inc. joined SIMPP in 1946.) Kramer
took his proceeds from the sale, and started his own independent company Screen
Plays Inc. in May 1947.
In contrast to the high-budget prestige films of the other independents,
Kramer produced the acclaimed anti-boxing melodrama Champion (1949) on a
23-day schedule for $590,000. He launched Stanley Kramer Productions Inc., and
became involved in the Arthur Krim and Robert Benjamin reorganization of United Artists. He
produced Cyrano de Bergerac (1950), acquiring the film rights from Korda,
and debuted the film through a successful road-show release under the aegis of
his own production company. His next independent production was the Fred
Zinnemann-directed hit High Noon (1952) which grossed an astounding $12
Experiencing many of the same financing problems as other postwar
independents, Kramer moved his company to Columbia Pictures to become an
in-house independent under a five-year, 30-picture deal. As his budgets
increased, so did his tremendous range of filmmaking—from Dr. Seuss' off-beat
surrealist fantasy The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953) to the Marlon Brando
motorcycle movie The Wild One (1954). His most successful production at
Columbia was The Caine Mutiny (1954) which became one of the highest
grossing films of the year.
In 1954 Kramer set up a new production company, the Stanley Kramer Picture
Corporation, which released through United Artists. He reduced his film
production schedule in order to become an independent producer-director,
entering another phase of his career with several groundbreaking movies that
were highly-regarded in the industry. His films tackled issues like racism (The
Defiant Ones, 1958), nuclear holocaust (On the Beach, 1959),
evolution (Inherit the Wind, 1960) and genocide (Judgment at Nuremberg,
1961). Kramer remained an active SIMPP member until the Society folded in the
Stanley Kramer biographical information: Kramer, A Mad,
Mad, Mad, Mad World; and Spoto, Stanley Kramer, Film Maker.
"To use film": Kramer, p. 232.
Kramer defies blacklist: "Stan Kramer Admits Employing
'Many' of Those 'Subpoenaed," HR, August 4, 1958, pp. 1, 9.
Cyrano de Bergerac road show
release: Thomas F. Brady, "Dark Days For Independents: Legal Threat," NYT,
January 21, 1951, sec. II, p. 5.
High Noon gross: Balio, United
Artists: The Company Built by the Stars, p. 235.