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Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

PG | | Drama | 19 December 1979 (USA)
1:31 | Trailer

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Ted Kramer's wife leaves her husband, allowing for a lost bond to be rediscovered between Ted and his son, Billy. But a heated custody battle ensues over the divorced couple's son, deepening the wounds left by the separation.



(from the novel by), (written for the screen by)
2,921 ( 169)
Won 5 Oscars. Another 32 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Phyllis Bernard (as Jobeth Williams)
Bill Moor ...
Howland Chamberlain ...
Jack Ramage ...
Jess Osuna ...
Ellen Parker ...
Shelby Brammer ...
Ted's Secretary
Carol Nadell ...
Mrs. Kline


Ted Kramer is a career man for whom his work comes before his family. His wife Joanna cannot take this anymore, so she decides to leave him. Ted is now faced with the tasks of housekeeping and taking care of himself and their young son Billy. When he has learned to adjust his life to these new responsibilities, Joanna resurfaces and wants Billy back. Ted, however, refuses to give him up, so they go to court to fight for the custody of their son. Written by Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There are three sides to this love story!




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 December 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Kramer Versus Kramer  »

Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)


$106,300,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Justin Henry was Oscar nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, Henry at age 8 became the youngest ever person to be nominated for this award as well as the youngest ever Oscar nominee in any category, a record which still stands today [August 2012]. See more »


When Billy is waiting for Ted to fetch him after the birthday party, he sits on the chair with his left leg tucked under the right leg. In the next shot, his right leg is tucked under his left leg. See more »


[first lines]
Joanna Kramer: I love you, Billy.
Billy Kramer: I love you too, Mommy.
See more »


Referenced in Puddle Cruiser (1996) See more »


Sonata for Trumpet and Strings: 2. Adagio 3. Presto
Henry Purcell
Adapted by John Kander
Conducted by Paul Gemignani
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Benton's greatest Writing and Directing, his achievement in film winning all the top major Oscars of 1979
27 February 2010 | by (Ottawa, Canada) – See all my reviews

Robert Benton's Kramer vs. Kramer is a character based story just like his "Human Stain(2003)" and "The Late Show(1977)". 2 of his 3 Oscar awards are belong to Kramer vs. Kramer, for his success on directing and writing; thus making his film bringing a real life drama with the real life characters so close to us. It's all about ordinary people with our problems. What's different and catchy about Robert Benton's film-making was here we are not trying to put ourselves in the actors' shoes, the actors are trying to put themselves in our shoes.

The story is about the Kramer family which is broken, father and mother are separated, and they have to fight for their son's custody in court against each other. After his wife walks out on him, Ted Kramer's life completely turns upside down. He has to take care of his son, Billy; but at the same time he's very busy with his position in an advertising company. Soon, he loses his job; Billy has an accident; his wife wants Billy to live with her. Against all the problems Ted is facing, he always fought with his heart. Ted's a very emotional and sensitive man, but a strong person at the same time.

Ted Kramer character was a new model for Dustin Hoffman. But since the late 1950s' Elia Kazan's pioneer approach of modern drama making on film, with the basic instalment of the leading actor into a conflict, Ted Kramer's strong character raised Dustin Hoffman's acting to become a legend ; just like it did to Marlon Brando, Sylvester Stallone, Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson with 1970s'.

Something more about the movie; the linear cut has been 43 minutes longer than the theatrical release. Most of this cut has included Meryl Streep's deleted scenes. Also Meryl Streep has been originally cast in the role of Ted's one night stand, eventually played by second supporting actress Jobeth Williams. Meryl Streep's role as Joanna Kramer has been primarily offered to Kate Jackson; but due to her contract rules with the TV-series Charlie's Angels, she hasn't been able to accept this role. Joanna Kramer character has been designed to be the leading actress and subject to have more scenes, before director Benton making the last decision of the plot's focus point.

Both Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman today have splendid fame on movie career, and Kramer vs. Kramer was an important milestone for both of their careers. Dustin Hoffman's Oscar speech winning the best actor at the 1979 Academy Awards ceremony is one of the best Oscar speeches of all Academy Awards history; like the movie Hoffman's Oscar speech is also available to watch on Youtube.

18 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Worthy of Best Picture, NOT Director. powermandan
Gotta give Ted credit Beau29
I'm only 40 minutes into this movie but ???? scscott45
Ted's not stupid, so why... IloveMuggy
ur view on what happens after the ending?? getmey
One scene I don't get teenbk2002-1
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