April 13, 2010
 

"Kramer vs. Kramer" Different Film Promo Posters

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By Kurt Brokaw, Culture Editor

1979: One actor who can lay claim to giving the most realistic portrayal of a Madison Avenue adman is Dustin Hoffman. His best Actor Oscar as Ted Kramer is richly deserved. Hoffman and writer/director Robert Benton's carefully nuanced script (two Oscars for Benton) establish his character in swift strokes.

The picture opens on "one of the four best days of my life," as Ted wins the Mid-Atlantic Airline account. It's the day Ted's wife (Meryl Streep, Best Actress Oscar) walks out on him, leaving him to care for their six-year-old son, a boy he barely knows. Ted's been the classic absent dad, but now he has to learn the basics of parenting. These sequences, his wife's return and decision to reclaim their son, the ensuing court battle, and Ted's loss of his agency job, form the core of "Kramer," which was also voted 1979's Best Picture Oscar.

As a Madison Avenue template, it doesn’t do a huge service to the advertising industry, as Ted Kramer's redemption comes through his good work as a parent and not his brilliant work as an Ad Guy. But his character is achingly real and three dimensional in a gallery representative of ad people that are all too frequently two dimensional, or even one dimensional.

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