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Stanley Kramer Film Collection (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner / Ship of Fools / The Member of the Wedding / The Wild One / The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T) (2008)

Mary Healy , Hans Conried , Fred Zinnemann , Laslo Benedek  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

Stanley Kramer Film Collection (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner / Ship of Fools / The Member of the Wedding / The Wild One / The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T) + The Gregory Peck Film Collection (To Kill a Mockingbird / Cape Fear / Arabesque / Mirage / Captain Newman, M.D. / The World in His Arms)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Mary Healy, Hans Conried, Tommy Rettig, Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier
  • Directors: Fred Zinnemann, Laslo Benedek, Roy Rowland, Stanley Kramer
  • Writers: Abby Mann, Allan Scott, Ben Maddow, Carson McCullers
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Unknown), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 12, 2008
  • Run Time: 513 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000TXP56M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,118 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Stanley Kramer Film Collection (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner / Ship of Fools / The Member of the Wedding / The Wild One / The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T)" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Stanley Kramer is not just a name in film history but a virtual brand name for a subspecies of filmmaking. First as an independent producer (1948-54) and then as a producer-director (1955-79), Kramer specialized in movies with an insistent socio-political consciousness that addressed Big Subjects--racism, bigotry, McCarthyism, juvenile delinquency and violence, military justice, greed, historical guilt, fascism and collaboration, The Bomb--and sought to make them the stuff of instructive drama. Depending on one's disposition, a Stanley Kramer picture was either powerful or preachy, courageous or complacent, thought-provoking or manipulative, challenging or middlebrow, hard-hitting or heavy-handed. Whatever his profile, for the better part of two decades Kramer loomed large on the American cinema horizon as a fighting liberal and truth-seeker. His pictures won or were up for a lot of awards, and Kramer himself was oft nominated for Oscars. In 1961 the Academy's board of governors voted him the Irving Thalberg Award for his career as a producer.

As an introduction, Stanley Kramer Film Collection is a bit odd. Because Sony is the distributor, only films from the Columbia Pictures library could be included, which means many of Kramer's most celebrated titles weren't: e.g., The Defiant Ones, On the Beach, and Judgment at Nuremberg, all released through United Artists. Also, of the five pictures in the set, only two, Ship of Fools and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, were directed by Kramer--though the commentaries, and especially the introductions by Karen Kramer (the producer’s second wife), treat him as prime mover on all of them.

By far the most interesting item is atypical Kramer--indeed, atypical anybody. The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), co-written by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, is a musical comedy horror fantasia centered on a little boy at the mercy of a demonic piano teacher. Mostly it takes the form of a nightmare: the opening sequence looks like something from '50s sci-fi, only creepier, while Dr. Terwilliker's labyrinthine headquarters, the principal setting, suggests the Arabian Nights episode of the German Expressionist classic Waxworks reconstituted in psychedelic Technicolor. Overall, the film scarcely seems to have been directed (the credited Roy Rowland goes unmentioned in the commentaries), and some of the song sequences are a drag. But Eugene Loring's ballet for musicians and instruments imprisoned in Dr. T's dungeon is memorably surreal, and Hans Conried makes a juicy Hitlerian villain. "Hitlerian" is no hyperbole: at the climax, as hundreds of little boys are marched off buses and stripped of their belongings before taking their places at Dr. T's stadium-sized keyboard, there's no mistaking the death-camp echo. Small wonder the movie spooked, rather than beguiled, the few families who bought tickets in 1953. Reviewers didn't like it, either. Nevertheless, it's won a cult over the years, and today's viewers should be more receptive to its dark whimsy. (They may even detect Dr. T DNA in Tim Burton's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!)

Of the other two early films, The Member of the Wedding (1952) boasts hefty credentials--direction by Fred Zinnemann (the same year he did High Noon for Kramer), a Carson McCullers novel and play as source material, the original Broadway cast re-creating their roles--but it's mostly an endurance test. Julie Harris had triumphed on stage as Frankie, the nervy, garrulous 12-year-old whose world in the Deep South of the 1940s has pretty much shrunk to her family's kitchen and the companionship of wise and patient mammy Bernice (Ethel Waters) and next-door kid John Henry (Brandon de Wilde in his first film role). On screen, Harris's real age (26) is distractingly apparent, and her voice, like Frankie's aggressive neediness, can be like fingernails on the blackboard. Although token efforts were made to "open up" the play for cinema, the film's setting and movement remain constrictive. Much more watchable is The Wild One (1953), directed by Laslo Benedek and based on Frank Rooney's chilling short story "Cyclists' Raid" about a motorcycle gang taking over a small town. Props to Marlon Brando, by then an annual Oscar nominee, for agreeing to re-team with Kramer (who had produced the actor's debut film, The Men) on what is essentially a 79-minute B movie. His reward was to become the premier icon of 1950s rebellion, pioneering the way James Dean, Elvis Presley, and others would follow. The Wild One also introduced biker hipster patter to movie audiences and defined biker fashion for decades to come. So the movie is a cultural milestone--but hardly a cinematic one: it rarely escapes feeling schematic and overcautious in its fear of alienating the public on one hand and glorifying violence on the other. Lee Marvin injects a welcome shot of battery acid as the leader of a rival biker gang, and veteran cinematographer Hal Mohr does yeoman work on dull sets.

The two specimens actually directed as well as produced by Kramer are his final bids for Oscar glory. Many Kramer pictures are only a few degrees away from allegory; Ship of Fools (1965), based on the novel by Katherine Anne Porter, sails over the brink with its complement of variously symbolic passengers and crew on a German vessel bound from Veracruz to Bremerhaven in the fateful year 1933. The heart of the film belongs to Simone Signoret and Oskar Werner, Oscar-nominated and also honored by the British Film Academy, the Golden Globes, and (Werner only) the New York Film Critics for their performances as two world-weary souls who briefly console each other en route to their respective dooms. Others in the cast include Michael Dunn (another Oscar nominee, as a dwarf Greek chorus), Vivien Leigh (her final performance, as a spiritual cousin of Blanche DuBois), Lee Marvin, George Segal, Elizabeth Ashley, Heinz Rühmann, and Jose Ferrer. Their roles are mostly die-cut, and although the black-and-white cinematography and art direction won Academy Awards, the film looks crude and stilted.

The intended centerpiece of the collection is Kramer's last critical and commercial hit, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967). This is the one about the well-to-do, cozily liberal San Francisco couple--Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in their final screen pairing--suddenly confronted with the news that their daughter (Katharine Houghton, Hepburn's niece) has fallen in love with and intends to marry an internationally renowned doctor who happens to be black (Sidney Poitier, America's top box-office star that year). Kramer took an enormous risk that Tracy, in frail health, would live to finish the film; the beloved veteran actor did, but perished days afterward, lending the movie considerable poignancy. That undoubtedly contributed to the film's overall kindly reception by reviewers, even as some acknowledged its blatant contrivances. For one thing, Poitier's character is so encyclopedically admirable that the script makes a joke of it; and there's the totally arbitrary "necessity" of Poitier's catching a night flight to Europe, so that the two sets of parents have only an evening to get used to their offspring's proposed mixed-race marriage. Given four decades of social progress--and our generally weak sense of history these days--21st century viewers are likely to find the film quaintly anachronistic (and the high-school-play production values--phony scenic backdrops and instant-sunset lighting--don't help). In remarks recorded for the 40th-anniversary DVD, Steven Spielberg salutes Guess Who's Coming to Dinner as "social instrument" and "social entertainment." How instrumental it was in changing prejudiced minds is open to question, but as entertainment the film became identified with a moment in the history of racial consciousness in America.

There's an extra disc devoted to Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Stanley Kramer's legacy, though oddly enough no running commentary has been provided on any of the movies except The Wild One (authoritative testimony by film historian Jeanine Basinger) and The Member of the Wedding (meandering remarks by Carson McCullers biographer Virginia Spencer Carr). Michael Feinstein and others offer droll appreciations of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T in peripheral featurettes. Visual quality of all the film materials is first-rate. --Richard T. Jameson

Product Description

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967)
When Joey Drayton (Katharine Houghton) brings her fiancé, Dr. John Prentice (Sidney Poitier), home to San Francisco her meet her affluent parents, played by the incomparable Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn, their liberal sensibilities are challenged because he is a black man. Prentice is perfect in almost every way - accomplished doctor, well-mannered, well-dressed and handsome - but it is his skin color that unnerves them. Radical in its time, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner was an examination of race and class issues projected through a comedic lens. These issues were dealt with on multiple fronts, from internalized racism (the black housekeeper) to unexpected tolerance (the family priest), and as well as held a mirror up to white liberalism showing that it was not always what it professed to be. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner celebrates the 40th Anniversary of its theatrical release.

Ship of Fools (1965)
Adapted from the novel of the same name, this film is a series of overlapping stories about several passengers on a ship making a trans-Atlantic voyage to 1930s pre-Hitler Germany. Aboard this ocean liner are wealthy Jewish men, bitter lovers, sleazy dancers, Nazi supporters and sugar field workers returning to Spain after a season in Cuba. Lumped together they create a hot bed of disillusionment, prejudice and delusions of grandeur.

The Member of the Wedding (1952)
Based on the 1946 novel by Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding is the story of Frankie Addams (Julie Harris, East of Eden), an awkward adolescent tomboy. Rejected by the other girls in her peer group, her only friends are the family cook and her seven-year-old cousin. Her loneliness transports her to a make-believe world where she accompanies her brother and his new bride on their honeymoon. The film offers an insightful look into loneliness, adolescence and the trials and tribulations of growing up.

The Wild One (1953)
In one of his most famous roles, Marlon Brando stars in this outlaw biker film as gang leader Johnny Strabler. This film is inspired by an incident that happened on the Fourth of July 1946, when a group of 4,000 motorcyclists invaded the quiet California community of Hollister. The bikers were more rebel rousers than actual threats, but things slowly unraveled between the gang and the townspeople. Predating Rebel Without a Cause by two years, The Wild One is one of the first films to deal with the generation gap, a theme echoed in numerous teen movies of the ‘50s.

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)
Written by the beloved Dr. Seuss, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T is a musical fantasy that delves into the mind of Bart Collins (Tommy Rettig, Lassie) a young boy who hates playing the piano. One night his nightmare takes him to a surreal land run by a maniacal piano teacher. This tyrant owns a gigantic piano which he forces Bart and 499 other boys to play (with their 5,000 fingers). However, not all hope is lost; with the aid of a plumber named August Zabladowski (Peter Lind Hayes, The Peter Lind Hayes Show) the boy creates a noise-sucking machine that destroys the mega-piano and sets the boys free. In the tradition of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of OZ, this film illuminates a bizarre world where reality and fantasy intersect.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kramer vs Kramer June 25, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I ordered this Stanley Kramer collection because it had a copy of "The Member of the Wedding" on it--one of my favorite movies, and it is almost impossible to get a copy of this as a single. It is a fantastic collection and I have seen all of the movies before, but of course I had to view "Member" first and then "Ship of Fools." The actors that stand out in this collection are Tracy and Hepburn plus Poitier in "Guess," Marlon Brando in "Wild," Vivien Leigh in "Ship" with equally fine performances by Lee Marvin and Michael Dunne, and of course Julie Harris and Ethyl Waters in "Member." The most stellar performance of the whole pack is the young Brandon de Wilde in "Member." If it were re-windable, I could re-wind and watch this young man over and over and over. Too bad we lost this actor, although his skill seemed to disappate with maturity. The odd movie in this pack is the "1000 Fingers." It is a heroic undertaking, the making of this movie, but instead of being the surrealistic masterpiece it could have been, the sets and props seem amateurish. I must review this one several more times to fully appreciate it--the acting by Tommy Rettig is quite good--and I may finally decide that I love it BECAUSE of its faults, instead of in spite of them. (I have given more detailed reviews of the individual movies, previously) Stanley Kramer was a genius as displayed here on celuloid.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally got "The Member of the Wedding"! January 22, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I have been looking for The Member of the Wedding for years after seeing it on TV and only saw the book until last week. I love this movie I am actually watching it right now. I think I got a great deal 5 movies for $18.26!!! You can't beat that. Even if the other movies aren't good to get The Member for that price is a steal!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stanley Kramer Film Collection July 29, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a great collection of movies ranging from 1952-1967. The cover case is cardboard and is very sturdy and the case that holds the disks might be acceptable to damage if you drop it, but that is also made good too. There are a total of 5 DVD and 1 bonus disk, so all movies have there on disk and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" DVD is the 40th Anniversary Edition disk. The menus for the DVD look really good with the same theme as the cover of this collection.

These movies star; Marlon Brando, Spencer Tracy, Sydney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, Vivien Leigh, Ethel Waters, George Segal, Julie Harris, Brandon de Wilde, Mary Murphy, Peter Lind Hayes, Jose Ferrer, Lee Marvin, plus others. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T" are in color. "Guess Who's..." and "Ship of Fools" are in Widescreen format (16:9) and the rest are fullscreen.

Overall this is a must have for anyone adding to their collection or fans of these actors/actress'.
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29 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let's have a Member of the Wedding DVD January 16, 2008
Format:DVD
It's long overdue! Put out a single DVD of Julie Harris's great performance in this great story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars for Five Stanley Kramer Films! May 27, 2013
Format:DVD
Stanley Kramer was a genius in the film industry where he was both producer and director. In this collection, his widow Karen Kramer did a fantastic job in choosing five distinct films such as the following:

"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" is a film classic which earned a third Academy Award for Best Actress to the amazing Katharine Hepburn and a final performance by the dazzling unforgettable Spencer Tracy. He died two weeks after the film's premiere. The film had an all-star cast such as Sidney Poitier as Dr. John Ward Prentice; Isabell Sanford as Tillie; Cecil Kellaway as Monsignor: and Beah Richards as Mrs. Prentice. Katharine Hepburn's actual maternal niece, Katharine Houghton, plays her daughter, Joanna, in the film.

The film takes place in the course of the day when Joanna and Dr. Prentice return from Hawaii to San Francisco, California to announce their wedding plans to Hepburn and Tracy. Everybody including the liberal mother and father are stunned of course. The film was so controversial about interracial marriage that it caused threats against everybody involved. Some might say the film is dated by today's standards but not necessarily so. Unbeknownst to the audience, Spencer Tracy who was married in real life to another woman had a long-term intimate relationship with Katharine Hepburn. Watching Tracy and Hepburn together is amazing. If Tracy could have divorced his wife despite his Irish Catholic religion, perhaps Hepburn and Tracy would have married. Regardless they show a romance onscreen to be genuine and real. They also know of Tracy's ailing health at the time of the film.

The disc features introductions by Karen Kramer; Tom Brokaw; and Quincy Jones.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Value for $24.00!! December 14, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I read a review from someone lamenting the fact that "The Member of the Wedding" is not available on DVD by itself. I ask you; Where can you get 5 classics for $5.00 apiece? This outstanding Stanley Kramer Collection boxed set features "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner", "Ship of Fools", "The Member of the Wedding", "The Wild One", and "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T." There is also a bonus "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" disk with special features. Anyone waiting for "The Member of The Wedding" to be released on DVD by itself might be waiting a long time! Not to mention a single release could easily cost what these 5 films together are selling for. I believe this package provides an excellent opportunity to add classic films to one's collection!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT DEAL
I bought the DVD collection to get Member of the Wedding. So all the other movies are a welcome bonus. M.of the W. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Miss Edye
5.0 out of 5 stars $1.80 ea. for 5 classics . . .
(note: just now ordered!) After listening to commentary of 'Mad (x4) World", went looking for more S. Kramer films. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jrum C.
5.0 out of 5 stars great collection
This collection is worth it for "The members of the wedding" alone. I hadn't seen "Ship of fools" in a while so I forgot what a great movie it was.
Published 2 months ago by Joseph P. Mugnier
5.0 out of 5 stars A wealth of bonus features for a highly regarded filmmaker
Every film student should have and watch this set. When you see the list of people who contributed to making these special features you'll see and understand why Stanely Kramer... Read more
Published 2 months ago by TravelingDP
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the grouping....
Grad school son majoring in film production and directing loves watching this collection - has learned much and been entertained as well. Collection is full of classics! Read more
Published 5 months ago by CA Moran
5.0 out of 5 stars Glad to see Stanley's work on DVD
GUESS WHO IS COMING TO DINNER was the one I wanted to see the most. And the DVD set is well worth it, especially for this movie. A white daughter falls in love with a black man. Read more
Published 5 months ago by William Dakota
4.0 out of 5 stars Frankie yearns to be a member of something...anything!
My piekna zona recently asked me to buy her a copy of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner so I conveniently bought this Stanley Kramer Collection (at a nice price) so I could also have a... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Tom
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Films...
Great films, everyone a classic, they still hold up today, I recommend this collection to everyone to see, some of the best actors of the 19th century...
Published 7 months ago by Gary Crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars Film Lover's delight.......
Well transferred movies directed by one of the great Director's of Hollywood. Excellent transfer quality including rare interviews, additional film footage and commentary with... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Richard Davis McLeod
2.0 out of 5 stars No movie on "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" disc!
I now own two copies of the bonus DVD and NO copy of the film! :-( Unfortunately, I did not discover this until I was ready to view it. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
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