Kramer vs. Kramer

Kramer vs. Kramer
Oscar posters 79.jpg
Original film poster
Directed byRobert Benton
Produced byRichard Fischoff
Stanley R. Jaffe
Screenplay byRobert Benton
Based onKramer vs. Kramer
by Avery Corman
StarringDustin Hoffman
Meryl Streep
Justin Henry
Jane Alexander
Music byPaul Gemignani
Herb Harris
John Kander
Erma E. Levin
Roy B. Yokelson
Antonio Vivaldi
CinematographyNéstor Almendros
Edited byGerald B. Greenberg
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • December 19, 1979 (1979-12-19)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$8 million[1]
Box office$106.3 million[2]

Kramer vs. Kramer is a 1979 American family courtroom drama film written and directed by Robert Benton, based on Avery Corman's novel. The film stars Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander and Justin Henry.It tells the story of a couple's divorce and its impact on everyone involved, including the couple's young son.

The film upon release received critical acclaim with particular praise for the performances of its cast. The film also became a major commercial success grossing $106.3 million against a budget of $8 million, becoming the highest grossing film of 1979. The film received a leading nine nominations at the 52nd Academy Awards, winning the highest five : Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Leading Actor (Hoffman) and Best Supporting Actress (Streep).

Plot

Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is a workaholic advertising executive who has just been assigned a new and very important account. Ted arrives home and shares the good news with his wife Joanna (Meryl Streep) only to find that she is leaving him. Saying that she needs to find herself, she leaves Ted to raise their son Billy (Justin Henry) by himself. Ted and Billy initially resent one another as Ted no longer has time to carry his increased workload and Billy misses his mother's love and attention. After months of unrest, Ted and Billy learn to cope and gradually bond as father and son.

Ted befriends his neighbor Margaret (Jane Alexander), who had initially counseled Joanna to leave Ted if she was that unhappy. Margaret is a fellow single parent, and she and Ted become kindred spirits. One day, as the two sit in the park watching their children play, Billy falls off the jungle gym, severely cutting his face. Ted sprints several blocks through oncoming traffic carrying Billy to the hospital, where he comforts his son during treatment.

Fifteen months after she walked out, Joanna returns to New York to claim Billy, and a custody battle ensues. During the custody hearing, both Ted and Joanna are unprepared for the brutal character assassinations that their lawyers unleash on the other. Margaret is forced to testify that she had advised an unhappy Joanna to leave Ted, though she also attempts to tell Joanna on the stand that her husband has profoundly changed. Eventually, the damaging facts that Ted was fired because of his conflicting parental responsibilities which forced him to take a lower-paying job come out in court, as do the details of Billy's accident.

The court awards custody to Joanna, a decision mostly based on the assumption that a child is best raised by his mother. Ted discusses appealing the case, but his lawyer warns that Billy himself would have to take the stand in the resulting trial. Ted cannot bear the thought of submitting his child to such an ordeal, and decides not to contest custody.

On the morning that Billy is to move in with Joanna, Ted and Billy make breakfast together, mirroring the meal that Ted tried to cook the first morning after Joanna left. They share a tender hug, knowing that this is their last daily breakfast together. Joanna calls on the intercom, asking Ted to come down to the lobby. She tells Ted how much she loves and wants Billy, but she knows that his true home is with Ted, and therefore will not take custody of him. She asks Ted if she can see Billy, and Ted says that would be fine. As they are about to enter the elevator together, Ted tells Joanna that he will stay downstairs to allow Joanna to see Billy in private. After she enters the elevator, Joanna wipes tears from her face and asks her former husband "How do I look?" As the elevator doors start to close on Joanna, Ted answers, "You look terrific."

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