One of Hollywood's most famous and controversial filmmakers shares his fascinating reminiscences about the world of film, offering anecdotes about the notable actors and actresses with whom he has worked, his various movies, and his personal life.
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A mediocre, mediocre, mediocre autobiography. Long before Oliver Stone started pontificating, there was Stanley Kramer. As producer and then director, this self-proclaimed and lifelong New Dealer was responsible for any number of big, self-important ``message'' pictures, such as Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Death of a Salesman, and On the Beach. These made enough money to keep him in the business, but a substantial portion flopped dramatically at the box office. (Even the flops, however, were showered with Academy Award nominations.) Early in his career, under a contract with Columbia's legendary Harry Cohn, Kramer managed to produce ten money-losers in a row, then redeemed himself on the eleventh picture, The Caine Mutiny. It's a remarkable story, but Kramer fails to display the requisite introspection and anecdotal flair. Much of this strangely bloodless memoir reads more like a ledger book than a life, a balancing up of profits and losses, with little consideration of all that lies beyond the numbers. From childhood, Kramer knew he wanted to work in the movies, but quick success eluded him as he labored in a variety of minor jobs, such as moving props. After WW II, he returned to Hollywood determined to make it as an independent producer (a great rarity at the time). With a lot of chutzpah and drive and the usual dollop of luck, he was soon well established, but his desire for control then took him naturally into directing. But don't look for any analysis of his directing technique or for thoughts on working with actors. Kramer is in too much of a hurry to get every fact down to bother with such illumination. This book, so lightweight, so lacking in any ``message,'' would never make it as a Stanley Kramer picture. (b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Booklist:
Legendary Hollywood producer/director Stanley Kramer touts himself as "the most frequently picketed producer in movie history," a distinction to which he is entitled as the force behind such landmark films as Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, On the Beach, High Noon, and The Wild One. Kramer tells a remarkable history of life in Hollywood during the depths of the McCarthy era and other cold war exigencies. His memoir captivates the reader with anecdotes from working with such troublesome stars as Marlon Brando and Humphrey Bogart as well as the legendary misanthrope Harry Cohn, president of Columbia Pictures, Kramer's boss and chief nemesis. But the memoir is most noteworthy for its exemptions. Written in a crisp, clipped prose, the book is nearly all business. Brief opening passages describe growing up on the streets of Hell's Kitchen in Lower Manhattan, but few formative interests. Kramer states his politics as a "Roosevelt democrat," but nothing on how he reached that position. A paragraph is devoted to his 12-year marriage. Consumed by his crusade to make challenging films for a complacent America, Kramer gives the impression that Hollywood was his life. Ted Leventhal
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