Ted Kramer comes home to find that his wife, Joanna, is leaving him and their son, Billy. Ted must juggle a demanding job with the new responsibilities of being Billy's primary caregiver in the absence of his mother. After a trying period of adjustment for both Ted and Billy, their relationship turns to love and trust. When Joanna returns and wants Billy back, the estranged parents must go to court to fight for custody of the son they both love.
Director: Robert Benton
Producer: Stanley R. Jaffe
Writer: Robert Benton; based on the novel by Avery Corman
Cinematography: Néstor Almendros
Production Design: Paul Sylbert
Set Decoration: Alan Hicks
Editing: Gerald B. Greenberg
Music Editor: Erma E. Levin
Supervising Sound Editor: Sanford Rackow
Cast: Dustin Hoffman (Ted Kramer), Meryl Streep (Joanna Kramer), Jane Alexander (Margaret Phelps), Justin Henry (Billy Kramer), Howard Duff (John Shaunessy), George Coe (Jim O'Connor), JoBeth Williams (Phyllis Bernard), Bill Moor (Gressen), Howland Chamberlain (Judge Atkins), Jack Ramage (Spencer), Jess Osuna (Ackerman)
Why KRAMER VS. KRAMER is Essential
Novelist Avery Corman published Kramer vs. Kramer
in 1977, a time when there was a more traditional view of child custody cases. For most people, there was no issue. When a man and woman got divorced, the mother took care of the children. While Corman's novel challenged that view, it wasn't until 1979, with the release of the filmed adaptation, that his story would explode accepted views on custody and parenting. Kramer vs. Kramer
didn't just set box office records for family drama, it changed the way people thought about divorce, family and child custody.
The cultural success of Kramer vs. Kramer
cannot be overstated. In a year with such movies as Moonraker
, the highest grossing James Bond movie ever up to that point, Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam war epic Apocalypse Now
, Blake Edwards' smash-hit comedy 10
, the first feature comedy by Steve Martin, The Jerk
, the first feature movie of the beloved Muppets in The Muppet Movie
and, finally, the long-awaited big screen adaptation of the classic television show Star Trek
with Star Trek: The Motion Picture
, Kramer vs. Kramer
was the top box-office draw of the year. Read that list again. All of them were beat out at the box office by a movie about a couple getting divorced and fighting for the custody of their son. Nothing like that had happened before, certainly not in the recently ushered in age of the summer blockbuster.
At the 52nd Academy Awards, Kramer vs. Kramer
took home five Oscars®, including the big one, Best Picture. It also won Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for Robert Benton and Best Supporting Actress for Meryl Streep. It was also nominated for, but did not win, Best Film Editing (Gerald Greenberg), Best Cinematography (Nestor Almendros), Best Supporting Actress (Jane Alexander) and, in a record setting nomination, Justin Henry became the youngest nominee ever, in any category, when he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at age eight.
Kramer vs. Kramer
also received Best Picture from The Golden Globes, Los Angeles Film Critics Association and The New York Film Critics Circle. Likewise, Hoffman and Streep were honored by each one of those organizations for their performances.
by Greg Ferrara