Monday, October 1, 2012
A Stanley Kramer Gift
He was nominated for 9 Academy Awards. He was a recipient of the esteemed Irving Thalberg Award. Besides being a highly respected producer, he was also a renowned director. Social issues and social commentary were a hallmark of Kramer films. Something else that I've noticed about films he directed: Stanley Kramer had a gift for drawing solid performances out of entertainers known for music and musical comedies. He got those exceptional performances out of them for films in which they didn't sing a note or dance a step. If Fred Astaire had received an Oscar nomination for one of the classic RKO musicals he did with Ginger Rogers, it should've been for 1936's Swing Time. If nominated for a musical in his post-RKO period, it should've been his work in 1953's The Band Wagon. The one nomination he did get was a Best Supporting Actor nod for wearing a tuxedo and surviving The Towering Inferno, an all-star 1974 box office blockbuster of a disaster film. To me, Astaire gave his best dramatic film performance as the scientist who speaks out against nuclear arms in 1959's On the Beach, directed by Kramer. The movie co-starred Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. Gardner and Astaire had a sweet cameo moment in the opening scenes of Vincente Minnelli's The Band Wagon.