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CNN Today

Film Director Stanley Kramer Dies

Aired February 20, 2001 - 2:40 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LAURIN SYDNEY, CNN ANCHOR: Hollywood is saying goodbye to a treasured filmmaker. Director Stanley Kramer died yesterday after a long bout with pneumonia. Paul Vercammen looks back at the career of the director who left a legacy of movies with a moral.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know about you but it seems to me these two are rushing it.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Director/producer Stanley Kramer explored a wide range of social and moral issues in his films -- from interracial love in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner":

STANLEY KRAMER, FILMMAKER: I called "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" early Spike Lee.

VERCAMMEN: To the Scopes Monkey Trial in "Inherit the Wind,"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man wishes to be accorded the same privileges as a sponge. He wishes to think.

VERCAMMEN: To the atrocities of the Holocaust in "Judgment at Nuremberg."

Kramer's wife likened the filmmaker to Gary Cooper's character in Kramer's classic western "High Noon," a man of courage willing to stand up to evil while others cowered in the shadows. Kramer was nominated for an Academy Award three times as Best Director, but didn't win. And while his films never won an Oscar for Best Picture, "Ship of Fools," "High Noon," "Judgment at Nuremberg," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "The Defiant Ones" and "The Caine Mutiny" were all nominated.

The body of work led some to call Kramer the social conscience in Hollywood, a director who hired blacklisted writers. But the New York-born director explored life's lighter side with the 1963 comedy "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."

KRAMER: The comedy was a piece of arrogance on my part to do something which I wasn't supposed to be able to do.

VERCAMMEN: Kramer said that critics described his comedy as: KRAMER: Kramer trying to put a message into comedy: greed. All comedy is based on greed, in a way. It's chasing a buck, one way or another, and I go by what Spencer Tracy advised: "Take the job seriously and yourself not at all."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYDNEY: Kramer was 87 years old.

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