Hollywood Renegades Archive

The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers

Book Cover


Stanley Kramer, SIMPP member.

Stanley Kramer

Hollywood Renegade

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 power."

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 million worldwide.

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 late 1950s.





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.

See Bibliography.

SIMPP archiveSIMPP historyHollywood antitrust case | the authorsite map
the publisherpress room | contact usorder information

Copyright © 2005 Cobblestone Entertainment.
All rights reserved.