The United States Supreme Court rules unanimously that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional, 1967. The landmark case, called Loving v. Virginia, was decided during post-production of a movie about interracial marriage―the Stanley Kramer-directed Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967) starring Katharine Houghton and Sidney Poitier (above) as the couple and the venerable pairing of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in their last film together. Even with the court’s new ruling, Kramer decided to leave in a line where one character says to the pair, “In 16 or 17 states you'll be breaking the law. You'll be criminals.” In his review for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert praised the film as entertainment in spite his observation that “Kramer has taken a controversial subject…and insulated it with every trick in the Hollywood bag…glamorous star performances…shameless schmaltz…[and] minor roles are filled with crashing stereotypes.”
Entries in stanley kramer (3)
A film like The Defiant Ones was merely an inadequate attempt by a white filmmaker to deal with a contemporary problem. James Baldwin has been very critical of me, and though it hurt, what he said is true. He said I captured all the intellectual and moral viewpoints of my age but didn’t capture the soul of the black man. Well, who the hell does he think I am? I’m not black. The fact is that I am a white man who made films about human beings who happened to be black. I understood the problems of black men and women morally, socially and intellectually, but the damn soul kept slipping between my fingers. It had to be spoon-fed to me secondhand because I didn’t feel it or know it enough.
There are so many areas into which I’ve stepped under the umbrella of what is sometimes amusingly called the Establishment, Hollywood style. The reason I’m defensive about my films is that sometimes—just to get the job done—not enough of the artist and too much of the political tactician and social worker prevailed. That’s where my area of sensitivity is. It’s just like undressing in front of you and saying, “Well, look, this is where I’m vulnerable. Stab me there.”
I’ve always been what is laughingly called an independent. I say “laughingly” because latitude is comparative. I have usually had some latitude when casting, something I enjoy doing, but sometimes the distributor screams that you have to do something. The Defiant Ones was written for Brando and Poitier. But Brando got tied up in Mutiny on the Bounty. I wanted to go with Poitier and a new actor, but United Artists said, “You’re chaining two guys together and one of them is black. You’ve got to give us some stars.”
At the time I approached Lancaster, Douglas, Mitchum. You know, I went down a lot of the guys. It needed to be a pretty big guy opposite Poitier. Time went by and we just couldn’t wait, so I ended up with Tony Curtis. Now, that didn’t seem to be a particularly brilliant piece of casting to anyone, including me, but I couldn’t get anybody else to play the role. I cut Tony’s hair, we straightened his nose. I think he did very well with the role, but it certainly wasn’t written for him.
Ernie Kovacs is killed in a car accident in Beverly Hills, 1962. Though he made a handful of movies in his brief career—including Bell Book and Candle (1958), North to Alaska (1960) and Pepe (1960)—the multi-talented comedic actor made his biggest impact on television with his groundbreaking series, The Ernie Kovacs Show (1961–1962). When it came time to film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), director Stanley Kramer considered casting Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in the roles of Melville and Monica Crump. Complications with her television show, however, caused Garland to turn the part down. Rooney then took over the character of of Ding “Dingy” Bell and Kovacs and wife Edie Adams moved into the Crump roles. Before shooting began, however, Kovacs lost control of his 1962 Chevrolet Corvair at Beverly Glen and Santa Monica Boulevards and hit a power pole, killing him almost instantly. Sid Caesar stepped in to assume the role.