7.8/10
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231 user 95 critic

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

PG | | Drama | 19 December 1979 (USA)
Trailer
1:31 | Trailer
Ted Kramer's wife leaves him, 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.

Director:

Robert Benton

Writers:

Avery Corman (from the novel by), Robert Benton (written for the screen by)
Reviews
Popularity
3,038 ( 158)
Won 5 Oscars. Another 34 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 (as Jobeth Williams)
Bill Moor Bill Moor ... Gressen
Howland Chamberlain ... Judge Atkins
Jack Ramage Jack Ramage ... Spencer
Jess Osuna ... Ackerman
Nicholas Hormann ... Interviewer
Ellen Parker Ellen Parker ... Teacher
Shelby Brammer Shelby Brammer ... Ted's Secretary
Carol Nadell Carol Nadell ... Mrs. Kline
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

There are three sides to this love story!

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Billy's crying is real. Robert Benton asked Justin Henry to think of a saddening memory before the take. Reportedly, at The 37th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1980), when Ricky Schroder won the Best New Male Star of the Year award, according to the book "The Academy Awards: The Complete Unofficial History", Henry "threw a raging tantrum". See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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

Alternate Versions

When aired on commercial TV, the shots of Phyllis naked, and her unexpected interaction with Billy, are darkened completely. Most commercial prints also omit the sound of Billy urinating. See more »


Soundtracks

Jingle Bells
(1857) (uncredited)
Written by James Pierpont
Sung a cappella by Justin Henry
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User Reviews

 
An Intelligent and Solid Film About Divorce
9 November 2007 | by evanston_dadSee all my reviews

After a decade of turbulent unrest, American movies began to switch gears and turn their cameras away from war-torn battlefields, political corruption, and general social unease to the more intimate world of family dysfunction. The toll the selfish Baby Boomers began to take on the American family as they grew up and had kids of their own was making itself felt.

"Kramer vs. Kramer" is one of the first of these dysfunctional family dramas that would continue to be so popular throughout the 1980s, and it's one of the best. It gets a rather bum rap now, because it's known as the film that beat "Apocalypse Now" for the 1979 Best Picture Academy Award, but comparing these two films is like comparing a banana to a marinated chicken breast: they're not remotely the same, but can't we enjoy them both? Director/writer Robert Benton doesn't try to do anything fancy with his movie; its strength lies in its performances, those of Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep particularly, playing a divorced couple fighting childishly and selfishly over their son. The courtroom scene in which they duke it out for custody, and in which each is forced to hurt the other in terrible ways, is devastating, and feels authentic. The movie doesn't present Hoffman's solid dad as a hero, or Streep's straying mom as a villain. They're neither good or bad as people -- they're simply bad at being married.

The film is tear-jerky at the finale, but not in a manipulative way. It earns its right to elicit sobs.

Grade: A


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 December 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kramer Versus Kramer See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$106,260,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$106,260,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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