Sunday, November 26, 2017

"Producer of Controversy"

New from the University Press of Kansas: Producer of Controversy: Stanley Kramer, Hollywood Liberalism, and the Cold War by Jennifer Frost.

About the book, from the publisher:
With films ranging from High Noon to Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Stanley Kramer (1913–2001) was one of the most successful and prolific director-producers of his day. But even as critics praised his courage in taking on such issues as nuclear war, racism, fascism, and the battle between science and religion, others condemned his work as “emptily pretentious” and “hollow, falsely sentimental, overproduced.” Whether Kramer was “one of the great filmmakers of all time” (Kevin Spacey at the Golden Globe Awards) or “one of Hollywood’s worst directors” (preeminent film critic Andrew Sarris in The Village Voice), he had a strong and undeniable influence on American culture during the Cold War. Producer of Controversy is the first book to take a close-up look at Kramer’s career, films, and liberal politics in an effort to explain his contributions and historical significance.

Kramer learned filmmaking within the old studio system, but over a career spanning forty years he did much to shape the independent moviemaking that emerged after World War II. Jennifer Frost pays particular attention to four of his key “message movies”—The Defiant Ones, On the Beach, Inherit the Wind, and Judgment at Nuremberg—to show how Kramer’s controversial films opened up public debate about the most important issues of his time—among average filmgoers as well as professional critics, political commentators, and public figures. In this context, she for the first time fully documents the Hollywood Right’s attacks on Kramer in the 1950s; details his resistance to the anticommunist Red Scare and the Hollywood blacklist; exposes his role as a cultural diplomat with the Soviet Union; and reveals his important contribution to the liberal and radical politics of the 1960s. Her book is at once an absorbing work of cultural history and a thoroughgoing reassessment of Stanley Kramer’s place in the pantheon of American filmmakers.
My Book, The Movie: Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood.

--Marshal Zeringue