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Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) movie script
by Robert Benton.More info about this movie on IMDb.com
1 INT. OFFICE, ADVERTISING AGENCY, MIDTOWN - EVENING
WIDE SHOT--A large and very comfortable office over-
looking St. Patrick's Cathedral. At the moment the
office is filled to bursting with men and women, slumped
in chairs, sitting on desks, all of them very tense.
Among the crowd of people we note: MURRAY FISHER, a
young and very ambitious junior executive and PHYLLIS
BERNARD, an attractive woman in her early thirties.
She is a lawyer with the agency.
At the moment, TED KRAMER, nice-looking without being
what you would call a matinee idol, paces back and
forth. His tie is loosened, he checks his watch every
fifteen seconds. Clearly he is very distraught.
(predicting the worst)
They're not gonna call...I tell
you they're not gonna call. I
blew it. I don't know what I
did wrong, but I--
REVERSE ON JIM O'CONNOR--Ted's boss and good friend.
He is in his middle fifties, nattily dressed with the
slightly bleary look of a heavy drinker. He sits back
in his chair with his feet propped on the desk and a
drink in one hand.
Ted, will you take it easy?
Revlon's not about to drop an
account that represents more
than two million in gross
billing receipts in a small
agency like this, without making
us sweat. Now just relax, okay?
Everything's gonna be fine.
(at this stage,
nothing will help)
I don't think so, Jim. Maybe I
Sound-effect: the phone rings.
Everyone freezes. As O'Connor reaches for the phone,
2A INT. CHILD'S ROOM, KRAMER APT. - EVENING
The room is dark, the only light coming from a small
night light. We SEE a beautiful five year old boy
(BILLY KRAMER). He lies in bed, half asleep. HOLD
FOR A BEAT as a beautiful woman (JOANNA KRAMER) leans
over, kisses the child and hugs him tightly to her.
I love you, Billy...
I love you too, mommy...Good-
ON JOANNA--She gets up from the bed and starts toward
the door of the child's room.
Don't let the bedbugs bite...
Joanna stops in the doorway, silhouetted against the
light. She turns, takes a last look at her son, then
3 INT. HALLWAY - EVENING
ON JOANNA--Now that the light is brighter, we can SEE
her more clearly. In her mid-thirties, she is beauti-
ful, dressed in a style that can best be described as
Bloomingdale's. HOLD FOR A BEAT as she leans against
the door. It is clear from her expression that she
is terribly upset. Then, making up her mind, she
crosses to a closet and takes out a suitcase.
4 THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH HER as she carries it into the
bedroom, lays it out on the bed and opens it. PAN WITH
HER as she crosses to a closet, grabs an armload of
clothes and dumps them helter-skelter into the
5 INT. O'CONNOR'S OFFICE - EVENING
It is a few minutes later, the news has obviously been
good because there is a general celebration in progress.
Jim O'Connor, now standing, raises one hand for
silence, then making a toast.
Here's to Ted Kramer.
Cheers and good-natured jokes.
(putting an arm around
Ted squeezing him tight)
I wanna tell you something about
this little runt. He went out
there and sold the shit out of
Revlon and that's why we got
the account. It was his idea,
it was his concept, right down
More hoots and cheers. People start to yell "Speech."
cannot stop grinning)
All I can say...All I can say
is this is maybe one of the five
best days of my whole life...
6 INT. BATHROOM, KRAMER APT. - EVENING
Joanna stands at the medicine cabinet, going through
it, packing things in a travel kit: rollers,
deodorant, makeup, birth control pills. She starts
to take a small bottle of perfume that has only an
eighth of an inch of fluid left inside, hesitates,
then puts it back.
7 INT. O'CONNOR'S OFFICE - EVENING
Now some time has passed, most of the crowd has gone
and only the regulars are left.
(in the middle of
So anyway Jim and I are making
the pitch, right? And all of
a sudden this old guy starts to
cough and I keep on going and
he keeps on coughing and I
keep on going and he keeps on
Murray Fisher leans over, shakes Ted's hand.
Congratulations, Ted. That was
a hell of a job.
Where you goin' Murray, it's
Got to get home.
(glancing at his
Oh, Christ, I'm late...I gotta
get out of here.
of going, he
settles back and
resumes his story)
So anyway, I look over and this
old geezer is starting to turn
blue and I swear to God the only
thing I can think about is that
this poor sonofabitch is gonna
die on me and screw up the pitch.
8 INT. KITCHEN, KRAMER APT. - EVENING
INSERT: A long and meticulous list that Joanna is making
out of the phone numbers and addresses of doctors and
hospitals, of what the various medicines are for, and
of the foods that Billy is and isn't permitted to eat.
WIDER ANGLE--as Joanna puts the finishing touches on
the list and carefully arranges it on top of the kitchen
counter next to a box of unsweetened, whole grain cereal
and a jar of honey.
Note: It is this same set of notes that Ted will later
unthinkingly throw away.
9 EXT. OFFICE BUILDING, MIDTOWN - NIGHT
WIDE SHOT--as the doors to the outer lobby open and
Ted and O'Connor appear. Ted starts to hail a cab,
O'Connor stops him.
Hey, what's the rush? C'mon,
walk me a couple of blocks.
Jim, I've got to go. I'm
Listen, Ted...I just want to tell
you, when old man Schmidt retires
next year, I've got a pretty
good feeling they'll kick me
He turns and starts to walk off down the street, Ted,
of course, follows.
...and when they do, I just want
you to know I'm takin' you along
10 INT. BEDROOM, KRAMER APT. - NIGHT
CLOSE ON JOANNA--as she goes through her jewelry case,
taking some things, leaving others. In the B.G. we
SEE a framed photograph of Billy, smiling, looking
into the camera.
11 EXT. STREET - NIGHT
ON TED AND O'CONNOR--tracking with them as they walk.
(feeling no pain)
Y'know, Ted, I mean what I said
back there. You did a hell of a
job on this and I want you to
know I'm turning the whole
show over to you.
I mean it Ted, you're running
12 INT. BEDROOM, KRAMER APT. - NIGHT
WIDE SHOT--The suitcase is now full. Joanna zips it
shut and looks around to make sure that she hasn't
Then, she hefts her suitcase and starts out of the room.
13 INT. FOYER - NIGHT
WIDE SHOT--Joanna carries in the suitcase, sets it by
the front door, then she crosses to the living room and
sits down at the dining table.
CLOSER IN ON HER--She takes out a list made on the back
of an old envelope. As she begins to review it, check-
ing off some items:
O.S. Sound: A key turning in the lock.
As Joanna looks up,
HER P.O.V.: as the door swings open to reveal Ted Kramer,
an enormous grin on his face, a bottle of champagne in
his hand. He is so full of himself that he doesn't
notice there is anything wrong.
Note: Throughout the entire scene he carries the bottle
of champagne, never putting it down.
I thought you might just like to
know that at five-fifteen this
afternoon we were officially
handed the Fire and Ice account
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THEM:
(she takes a deep
Ted, I'm leaving you.
That represents a gross billing
in excess of two million--
Joanna opens her purse, takes out her keys and wallet.
Here are my keys. I won't be
needing them any more.
Note: Ted does not for a moment believe that his wife
will really leave him. All he can think of right now
is that he will have to spend the rest of the evening
coping with one of her moods.
I'm sorry I'm late, all right?
I'm sorry I didn't call--I was
busy making a living.
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THEM: Joanna doesn't even bother
to look up at him. She opens her purse, takes out her
wallet and begins removing credit cards.
My American Express...My
Bloomingdale's Credit Card...
My check book--
Okay, okay...What is it this
time? What did I do now?...
I took two thousand out of the
savings account. That was what
I had in the bank when we got
Joanna, whatever it is, believe
me, I'm sorry.
Here are the slips for the laundry
and the cleaning. They'll be
ready on Saturday.
(hard lining it)
Now listen, before you do something
you'll really regret you'd better
stop and think--
(not bothering to
I've paid the rent, the Con-Ed
and the phone bill, so you don't
have to worry about them.
She checks off the last item on her list as her husband
There, that's everything.
Joanna gets to her feet and starts toward the front
door. In an instant Ted is after her.
For God's sake, Joanna, would
you at least tell me what I did
that's so terrible! Would you
do me that little favor?
ON JOANNA--at the door.
Look, it's not your fault, okay?
It's me. It's my fault--you
just married the wrong person.
So we've got problems. Everybody's
got problems--that's normal--
Joanna opens the door and they step out into the hallway.
14 INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE KRAMER APT. - EVENING
Ted, you're not listening to me.
It's over, finished.
I'm listening, Joanna--believe me,
I'm listening. My wife is walking
out on me after eight years of--
You just don't get it, do you?
(as though to a child)
I - am - really - and - truly -
leaving - you.
I heard you, Joanna. I promise
I heard you.
No you didn't.
You didn't even ask about Billy.
What about Billy?
I'm not taking him with me.
Ted, I can't...I tried...I really
tried but...I just can't hack it
C'mon, Joanna, you don't mean
that. You're a terrific mother--
(from her gut)
I am not! I'm a terrible mother!
I'm an awful mother. I yell at
him all the time. I have no
patience. No...No. He's better
off without me.
(unable to look
Ted, I've got to go...I've got
Okay, I understand and I promise
I won't try and stop you, but you
can't just go...Look, come inside
and talk...Just for a few minutes.
NO!...Please...Please don't make
me stay...I swear...If you do,
sooner or later...maybe tomorrow,
maybe next week...maybe a year
I'll go right out the window.
Sound-effect: The elevator approaching.
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THEM--There is nothing more that
can be done, this is the last moment of intimacy.
Where are you going?
I don't know...
The elevator door opens, Joanna steps inside.
Do you want me to help you get a
Joanna shakes her head. The elevator door closes behind
her and it starts to descend.
ON TED KRAMER--He stands for a moment, stunned, unable
to move. Then he turns and races back into the
15 THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH HIM as he rushes across
to one of the living room windows, throws it open
and leans out.
16 HIS P.O.V.: looking down to the street from the
eighth floor. We SEE Joanna step off the curb and
hail a passing taxi.
Either she doesn't hear him or else she pays no attention.
She gets into the cab, closes the door behind her and it
17 INT. APT. - NIGHT
ON TED--as he stands for a moment watching the taxi as
it disappears. Then, slowly, he closes the window,
turns, and AS THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH HIM, walks into
The bedroom is a mess: the closet door stands open,
inside Joanna's section is empty except for some shoe-
boxes and a few dresses that are scattered across the
floor. Several dresser drawers have been pulled out
and their contents emptied. HOLD IN A WIDE SHOT-as Ted
wearily picks up one of the dresses and hangs it back
on its hanger in its proper place, ready for Joanna's
return. As he continues straightening up the room,
THE CAMERA SLOWLY FADES TO BLACK.
18 INT. LIVING ROOM - VERY LATE AT NIGHT
WIDE SHOT--Ted Kramer paces back and forth, eyeing the
phone. Then, coming to a decision, he crosses to it,
picks up the receiver and starts to dial.
19 EXT. APT. BLDG. - LATE AT NIGHT
WIDE SHOT--The building is dark except for the Kramer
apartment which is ablaze with lights. HOLD as we HEAR:
Sound: The phone ringing. Then:
All right, Thelma...That's it.
I've had it. You can call your
good friend Joanna Kramer and tell
her enough is enough, okay? I
mean, I don't know what I did,
but you can tell her she's made
Ted, what are you talking about?!
Don't play innocent with me,
Thelma. You know perfectly
well what's going on.
Ted, I don't understand a word
you're saying. Where's Joanna?
Ha! You tell me.
Sound-effect, as Ted slams down the receiver.
20 Instantly a light is turned on two floors below.
21 INT. FOYER, KRAMER APT. - NIGHT
ON THE FRONT DOOR--as we HEAR:
Sound-effect: the doorbell rings.
A moment later Ted opens the door and THELMA PHILLIPS
enters. She is a neighbor (Apt. 6-B) and Joanna
Kramer's best friend. About four months ago Thelma
and her husband Charley were divorced. Until then the
two families had been very close, the Kramer's son
(Billy) being about the same age as the Phillips'
daughter (Kim). With the divorce, however, the Kramers
tried to remain friends with both Thelma and Charley
and that has caused a certain amount of friction.
Thelma is an attractive woman in her mid-thirties. She
dresses well, works out religiously at Jack LaLanne's
and goes to a therapist twice a week. She is also given
to acting the lay analyst with her friends. Thelma is
generous with her advice, sharing the wealth so to speak.
With all of this she is kind, loyal and a loving friend.
At the moment, however, she is all business.
All right. What's going on?
ON TED--From his attitude it is clear that there is no
love lost between them.
All right, Thelma, you want to
know what's going on? I'll tell
you what's going on. I'll tell
you exactly what's going on.
Look, Ted, all I--
I came home tonight. We just got
the Fire and Ice account at the
agency. Do you know what that
means?! Do you understand
what that means? It means that
it was maybe one of the five
best days in my whole life.
Ted, all I wanted to know was
(not letting her get
a word in edgewise)
I walk in the house and before
I can say "How are you?", "Did
you have a nice day?" before I
can say anything. Pow she's
out the door.
OhmyGod. Didn't she say anything?
She must've said something.
Yeah, she said it wasn't any
use talking anymore.
Ted, don't be so hostile.
Ted draws himself upright with the dignity of the
Ambassador to the Court of St. James. However, during
the following, he begins pounding the pillows on the
couch into shape with real vehemence.
Thelma, I'm not hostile.
I am anything but hostile.
But if you want to know what
I am. I'll tell you what I am.
What I am is, I am hurt. I am very
hurt. And I just want to know
one thing, okay? Just one thing
...Why? That's all I want to
(how to say this)
Ted, Joanna and I used to talk a
lot and...well, she told me a lot
of...ah, things about the two of
Things? What kind of things?
(clearly she knows
more than she's
willing to say)
I mean...things. Ted, Joanna's
very unhappy and--
(flash of anger)
Listen, Joanna Kramer's got a
goddamn good life. She's got a
husband that loves her. She's
got a terrific kid. She's got
a wonderful home--
(getting mad herself)
What d'you know about how Joanna
felt? You went off to an office
every morning and you'd come
dragging home at seven or eight
every night and as long as dinner
was on the table you thought
everything was swell.
Did it ever occur to you guys
that Joanna Kramer's not the
easiest person in the world to
live with?! Did it?! For one
thing she's always thirty minutes
late. You can set your watch
So she's late. What's the big
deal. That's just a way of saying,
"Pay attention to me."
Two. She is getting to be a real
hermit or recluse or whatever it
is you call it. Thelma, do
you know where I could be in
this business if I had a wife
that entertained or went out
Oh for shit's sake, Ted, you are
the most selfish human being I
have ever met. No wonder she
said you came first, then Billy,
then, if there was anything left
over, she got the scraps.
Joanna said that?
Then how come she never said
anything like that to me?
Maybe she didn't feel like she
should have to. Maybe she
felt like if you'd been paying
any real attention to her to
start with, maybe you would've
Boy, you guys are really something,
y'know? I'd like to know one
thing, okay--just one little
thing. Did you tell Joanna
she should leave me?
She turns and starts toward the front door, Ted at
Y'know something Thelma--you are
the typhoid Mary of divorce.
I mean it. Joanna and I never
had any trouble until you and
Charley split up.
Ted, divorce is a terrible thing.
I know, I went through it.
You've got to believe I did
everything I could to get Joanna
But I'll tell you something.
You may not want to hear it,
but it took a lot of courage
for Joanna to do what she just
I'd like to know what the hell
kind of courage it takes to walk
out on your husband and your child?
CLOSE ON THELMA--That stops her dead in her tracks.
She had always assumed that Joanna took Billy with her
when she left.
Joanna left Billy? She didn't
take him with her?
Ted shakes his head. There is a long beat of silence.
22 EXT. KRAMER APT. BLDG. - EARLY MORNING
WIDE SHOT--It is a beautiful sunny morning and the
super stands in front of the building hosing down the
sidewalk. HOLD as a garbage truck enters FRAME and the
garbage men begin loading sacks of trash into the back
of the truck. As it begins to grind up the garbage with
an ungodly sound, THE CAMERA PANS UP TO THE EIGHTH
23 INT. BILLY KRAMER'S BEDROOM - EARLY MORNING
MED. SHOT--Billy Kramer lies in his bed, fast asleep.
HOLD FOR A BEAT as we HEAR:
O.S. Sound: From the street below, the garbage truck
grinding up garbage.
A moment later, Billy opens his eyes, struggles to his
feet and, AS THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH HIM, trudges
sleepily out of his room, across the hall and into
24 INT. BATHROOM - EARLY MORNING
As the child stands in front of the toilet, eyes closed,
O.S. Sound-effect: as the child pees noisily.
Then, when he is finished, he turns and, without bother-
ing to flush the toilet, shuffles down the hall and
into his parents' bedroom.
25 HIS P.O.V.: The bed is empty, there is no sign
that anyone has slept in it.
ON BILLY--a look of suspicion on his face, he turns and
starts back down the hall toward the living room.
26 INT. LIVING ROOM - EARLY MORNING
As Billy enters, looks around.
HIS P.O.V.: Ted Kramer, still fully dressed, looking
like the wrath of God is asleep in the chair.
ON BILLY--as he marches across to his father.
ON TED--His eyes open, he looks around startled.
Huh?...Oh God...What time is it?
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THEM:
The little hand is on the six and
the big hand is on the nine.
Where is mommy?
(trying to pull
Oh, Christ...Ah, yeah...you want
to know why mom's not here, right?
Okay, I'm going to tell you...
It's like this. Mommy and daddy
had a little argument and mommy
decided she wanted to go off by
herself for a little while. You
know how sometimes you get mad
and want to go off and be by
yourself? Well, it's like that,
Now how about some breakfast?
Ted struggles to his feet and THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH
THEM as they start toward the kitchen.
When is mommy coming back?
Soon. Very soon.
By now they are inside the kitchen, Ted looks around.
27 HIS P.O.V.: There, on the kitchen cabinet is a
box of "natural grain" cereal, a jar of honey, some
wheat germ, and a banana, with carefully written
instructions from Joanna underneath.
ON TED--He takes one look at the note, crumples it
up and tosses it in the wastebasket.
(the camp counselor)
I'll tell you what, kiddo--why
don't I fix us some French toast?
Wow! French toast, really?
(the camp counselor)
Sure. Didn't I ever tell you
French toast was my specialty?
I'll bet I never told you that.
Now then, the first thing we
... eggs! Right?
Billy nods. Ted opens the refrigerator and takes some
This is terrific ... isn't this
As Ted begins the process of making French toast, it
soon becomes obvious that he has no idea of what he is
doing. What follows is a symphony in incompetence on
Ted's part. He breaks the eggs into a bowl and ends up
with most of the shell mixed up with the egg. Then he
takes a piece of bread and drops it into bowl.
(saying it will
make it so)
I'm having a good time...Are you
having a good time?
ON BILLY--watching all of this with increasing
You forgot the milk.
(still the camp
That's right. You're absolutely
right...It's been a long time
since I made French toast.
Ted takes a container of milk, pours it into the bowl
so that it is filled to the brim. Then he sloshes the
bread around until it is half-dissolved.
Look at this, isn't this
He lops off a huge hunk of butter, drops it into an
omelet pan and turns up the flame.
ON BILLY--watching. He looks as though he is about to
What about my orange juice?
Right. One O.J. coming up.
He opens the refrigerator and starts to get the orange
juice. As he does, black smoke begins to billow
ominously from the frying pan.
Ted turns, spots the smoke.
Don't worry.. .Everything's
He lunges for the handle of the frying pan, which by
now is very hot. He grabs it, lets out a howl of pain
and the whole mess, frying pan, butter, bread, goes
crashing to the floor.
CLOSE ON TED--Suddenly all the rage comes pouring out.
Goddam! Son of a bitch!
WIDE SHOT--as Ted kneels down and begins to clean up
(to himself as much as
It's okay. It's gonna be okay...
Everything's going to be all
28 EXT. STREET - DAY
ON A BUS--as it pulls to a stop. The doors open and a
stream of mothers and children get off. Among them
we spot Ted Kramer with Billy. As they start across
the street, Ted reaches down and takes hold of Billy's
hand. The moment they get to the far side, Billy
takes his hand away from Ted's and wipes it on his
pants. Clearly Ted's hands are very sweaty.
CLOSER IN ON THEM: As they start down the block toward
CLOSER IN ON THEM
When is mommy coming back?
Soon. I told you before, very
Will she pick me up after school?
No. If I'm not here, you go
home with Thelma and Kim.
What if she forgets?
I'll call Thelma and remind her,
okay? Don't worry.
They walk in silence for a few steps, then:
But what happens if she's on
her way to school and she gets
runned over by a truck and killed?
What happens them?
Ted looks at Billy in amazement.
WIDE SHOT--as the two of them enter the school and
disappear from view.
29 INT. OFFICE, TED'S AGENCY- DAY
ON THE ELEVATOR DOORS--as they open and Ted steps out
looking like the wrath of God. THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH
HIM as he crosses the waiting room toward the inner
ON THE RECEPTIONIST--glancing up as he passes.
Congratulations, Mr. Kramer.
ON TED--looking at her like she has lost her mind.
Nevertheless he continues on, passing through swinging
doors into a long corridor lined with secretaries'
desks and offices leading off of it. Suddenly a
younger man rushes up, grabs Ted's hand and starts to
pump it vigorously.
Terrific news, Ted.
Another nut. Ted smiles at the man, humoring him and
continues toward his office. O'Connor appears, throw-
ing his arm around Ted, squeezing him in a bear hug.
Hey...Look who was out celebrating
Suddenly Ted realizes that all these people are con-
gratulating him for getting the Fire and Ice account.
(trying to appear
Uh, Jim...Can I talk to you?
30 INT. O'CONNOR'S OFFICE - DAY
Ted and O'Connor sitting across from one another.
O'Connor has just heard the news.
Jesus Christ. That's a real
(shakes his head)
I always figured you guys had
You want to know the real
kicker? The real kicker is,
for the first time in my life--
the first time--I feel like a
O'Connor nods sympathetically. Actually he is praying
that Ted won't start to cry.
(stiff upper lip)
Listen, don't let it get you down.
it for a second)
You're going to be fine.
Me? I've never been better.
I mean having my wife walk out
on me after seven years of
marriage agrees with me just
Look, Ted, I'm the oldest whore
on the beat, okay? Three
marriages, two divorces...You're
gonna be okay.
I'm going to be okay. The way
I see it, Joanna'll come home,
it's just a matter of time.
She'll be back...
Ted nods in agreement. There is a beat of silence as
both men consider Joanna's imminent return. Then:
(trying to be tactful)
But...just in case...I mean,
just on the off chance she doesn't.
What are you going to do about
(the wind goes
out of him)
I don't know, Jim. This whole
thing has happened so...Pow--
(a friend having to
say something very
Look, it's none of my business,
so you can tell me to butt out,
okay? But if you want my advice,
you'll send Billy away to stay
with relatives for a while. Just
until you get yourself straightened
I don't know, Jim...
(the Dutch uncle)
Ted, this may sound a little
rough, but we've just landed the
biggest account in the history
of this agency, right? And now
it's up to us--that's you and me
--to deliver the goods. Ted,
you're my main man, and if I
can't depend on you a hundred
and ten percent, twenty-four
hours a day, because you're
worried about a kid with a runny
Jim, I appreciate what you're
saying. I mean it, but I really
think Joanna's coming back.
ON O'CONNOR--clearly he doesn't believe this.
I hope you're right, Ted...I
really hope you're right.
31 INT. FOYER, KRAMER APT. - DAY
INSERT: TIGHT ON AN ENVELOPE: It is postmarked
Denver, Colorado. The letter is addressed to Billy
Kramer and it is from Joanna.
ON TED--as he rips open the letter.
ON BILLY--He sits in the living room watching television,
a chocolate doughnut in one hand and a remote control
device for watching television in the other.
Off-screen Sound: a Saturday morning kiddie program
from the television set.
(focused on T.V.)
You got a letter from mom.
Instantly, Billy turns down the volume of the
When is she coming home?!
ON TED--as he starts to read, slowly, carefully, so
that Billy can absorb it.
"My dear, sweet Billy: Mommy has
gone away. Sometimes in the
world daddies go away and mommies
bring up their little boys. But
sometimes a mommy can go away too,
and you have your daddy to bring
As Ted continues to read, Billy starts turning up the
sound on the television, using the remote control device.
(raising his voice
so he can be heard)
"I have gone away because I must
find some interesting things to
do for myself in the world.
Everybody has to, and so do I.
Being your mommy was one thing,
but there are other things and
this is what I have to do. I
did not get a chance to tell you
this, and that is why I am writing
By now the volume from the television is so loud that
Ted has to shout to make himself heard over it.
"I will always be your mommy and
I will always love you. I just
won't be your mommy in the house.
But I will be your mommy of the
heart. And I..."
(he looks up, about
to tell the child
to lower the volume)
HIS P.O.V.: Billy sits, watching television with an
almost ferocious intensity on his face, doing his best
to block out Ted's voice.
ON TED--He watches his son for a second, then carefully
refolds the letter, puts it away.
(as he reaches across,
turns down the sound
on the T.V.)
It's okay...It's okay. We'll talk
about it some other time.
32 INT. KITCHEN, KRAMER APT. - LATER THAT DAY
CLOSE ON THELMA--reading Joanna's letter.
She finishes the letter, looks up at Ted.
What are you going to do?
I don't know, Thel...This whole
thing has happened so...Pow,
I mean, what are you going to do
I'm gonna keep him, why?
Look, this is nothing personal,
but I don't think you can do it.
Thelma, I've lost my wife, I'm
not losing my child.
All right...Okay...But let's
get something straight, right now.
I mean, I'm sorry about what
happened between you and Joanna,
but it's not my problem, understand?
REVERSE ON TED--he nods.
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THEM:
I'm not going to have you calling
every fifteen minutes just
because you can't find a hot
water bottle, understand?
I've got enough trouble raising
my own kid. I don't need another
one. Got it?
You're on your own, understand?
ON THELMA--a long pause, she looks at him with all the
warmth of a top sergeant facing a raw recruit. Then:
All right. Who's Billy's
ON TED--He hasn't the foggiest idea.
Ed Davies. 230 East 76th Street.
472-8227. Fifty bucks a house
call, thirty for an office visit.
Write this down: I'm not telling
you twice. What's the nearest
ON TED--as he grabs a piece of paper and starts writing
Wait a minute! Wait a minute!
Lenox Hill. 77th Street between
Park and Lex. The emergency
number is 327-0800.
Slow down...Slow down...
33 INT. TED'S BEDROOM - DAY
WIDE SHOT--Ted stands in the middle of the room, sorting
out a huge pile of dirty clothes. Thelma sits on the
edge of the bed, watching.
Colors in one pile, white things
in another and shirts in a third.
In the BACKGROUND we SEE the bathroom door as it opens
and Billy Kramer steps out, freshly bathed and wearing
Brush the teeth. Hang up the
towel and flush the toilet.
Billy immediately turns on his heels and heads back into
33A INT. LIVING ROOM, KRAMER APT. - DAY
CLOSE ON A SILVER CIGARETTE BOX--that is inscribed, "Ted
and Joanna Kramer, Married April 4, 1970." HOLD FOR A
BEAT then Ted's hand reaches into FRAME and picks it up.
MED SHOT TED--as he takes the cigarette box and balances
it on a stack of scrap books, photographs, ash trays,
etc., etc., that he is carrying. He crosses to another
table, picks up a framed photograph of Joanna and Billy
and piles that on top of everything. We realize that
Ted is going through the apartment from top to bottom
and methodically cleaning out every trace of Joanna that
he can find.
33B EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING - NIGHT
33C INT. LIVING ROOM, KRAMER APT. - NIGHT
WIDE SHOT--as Ted goes through the room, picking up
Billy's clothes which have been strewn every which way.
THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH HIM as he carries them into
33D INT. BILLY'S ROOM - NIGHT
Billy is fast asleep, the only light coming from the
night lamp on the dresser. Ted dumps the soiled
clothing in a hamper, hangs up Billy's jacket, then he
neatly folds the boy's sweater and crosses to the dresser.
CLOSER IN ON THE DRESSER--as Ted opens a drawer and
starts to put the sweater away. Suddenly he spots
HIS P.O.V.: There, in the drawer, sitting on top of a
pile of clothing is one of the photographs of Joanna that
Ted put away this afternoon. Billy has retrieved it and
hidden it here, hoping that Ted wouldn't find it.
CLOSE ON TED--as he takes a long look at the photograph,
then turns to his son.
HIS P.O.V.: Billy asleep, tangled up in the covers.
ON TED--He removes the photograph from the drawer,
crosses to the bed and places it on the nightstand
nearby so that Billy will be able to see the picture
of Joanna when he wakes up in the morning. He sits
for a moment longer on the side of the bed and reaches
across and smooths down his son's rumpled hair.
FADE TO BLACK:
34 INT. TED'S OFFICE - LATE AFTERNOON
ON TED--clearly in a rush, loading his briefcase with
work to do that evening. He starts for the door and
THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH HIM as he walks along the outer
office corridor, heading for the elevator. As he passes
the door to O'Connor's office:
Hey, Ted. C'mon in. I wanna'
talk to you.
Reluctantly Ted stops, turns around and walks back to
the door to O'Connor's office.
35 INT. O'CONNOR'S OFFICE - LATE AFTERNOON
O'Connor sits back in his chair, his feet propped on the
desk a drink in one hand.
What's the big rush. C'mon in,
put your feet up, have a drink.
REVERSE ON TED--hanging in the doorway, clearly anxious
Can't do it tonight. Gotta
pick up Billy. I'm late.
(paying no attention
Listen, I heard a terrific joke
today. There's this Polish
Sorry, Jim I've got to go. I'll
talk to you tomorrow.
And before O'Connor can say anything he is gone.
REVERSE ON O'CONNOR--Obviously displeased. He sits for
a moment, drumming his fingers on the desk top, then
reaches for the phone and starts to dial. A moment
Murray? Jim O'Connor, why don't
you drop by and have a drink...
36 EXT. OFFICE BUILDING - LATE AFTERNOON
WIDE SHOT--as Ted emerges from the building, starts
to hail a cab.
37 EXT. APARTMENT HOUSE, EAST EIGHTIES -
WIDE SHOT--as the cab pulls to a stop. Ted leaps out
and rushes inside.
33 INT. HALLWAY, APARTMENT BLDG. - LATE AFTERNOON
The elevator doors open and Ted steps out. THE CAMERA
PANS WITH HIM as he crosses to the doorway of an
apartment, rings the bell.
CLOSER IN--as the door is opened by a pleasant-looking
woman in her thirties. This is MRS. KLINE. She has
the slightly haggard look of someone who has just sur-
vived a birthday party with eight five-year-olds. In
fact, behind her we SEE an abundance of crepe paper
Mrs. Kline, I'm sorry I'm late,
That's all right, but I'm afraid
Billy was a little nervous...
(she glances O.S.)
THEIR P.O.V.: Billy, his coat on, his goody bag in his
lap sits alone on a bench in the foyer.
The moment he sees his father, he gets up and starts
for the door.
(to Ted, accusingly)
I'm sorry, pal, but I had a
(to Mrs. Kline,
anxious to get
Goodbye, Bill. Thank you for
(calling out to her
son in the next room)
Mark. Say goodbye to Bill.
And he hustles his father out into the hallway. Once
door is shut behind them:
I was waiting a long time.
By now they have crossed to the elevator. Ted rings
(this ain't exactly
the greeting he's
It wasn't so long, I'm only...
(checking his watch)
...twenty minutes late.
The elevator doors open.
All the other mothers got here a
long time ago...
And the doors close, blocking them from view.
39 INT. LIVING ROOM, KRAMER APT. - NIGHT
WIDE SHOT--Ted and Billy sit at the dining table, a
large pizza between them. Ted is working hard, trying
to establish some kind of rapport with his son. Billy
is silent, he picks at the slice of pizza in front of
(more of the camp
How was school today?
Okay...Same as usual...
Billy, don't eat with your fingers.
There is a long beat of silence.
(like pulling teeth)
Well, I see the Yankees finally
won a game.
Mom, I mean dad?
Can I be excused? I'm not hungry.
I think I'll go to bed.
Sure. Too much birthday cake,
(as he gets up from
WIDE SHOT--as Billy shuffles off toward his room. Ted
sits for a beat picking at the food on his plate.
THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH BILLY--as he gets up from the
40 walks into his room. HOLD IN THE DOORWAY as he
takes off his shirt and pants and leaves them lying
on the floor. The boy crosses to the closet, gets his
pajamas and puts them on.
REVERSE ON TED--standing in the doorway, watching.
ON BILLY--He starts to crawl into bed.
ON TED, THE CAMERA PANS WITH HIM--as he crosses to where
Billy dropped his clothes on the floor, picks them up.
Listen, pal, I'm sorry, okay?
I know how you feel.
Ted crosses, sits on the edge of the bed.
Look, I remember one time when.
I was a couple of years younger
than you are now and...I was
staying with this cousin of mine
and my parents were supposed to
come and pick me up by three,
but it got later and later and
they didn't and they didn't show
up and I remember I got really
scared that something had happened
to them and I remember when they
finally came instead of being
happy to see them I was very
angry and...Billy, I promise I'll
never do that to you again,
C.U. BILLY--His face is turned to the wall. HOLD FOR A
BEAT as we SEE him nod.
41 INT. LIVING ROOM, TED KRAMER'S APT. - NIGHT
Note: The following scene, which is written as one,
is actually to be played so that each time we cut back
to the woman who is being interviewed as housekeeper,
it is a different woman: sometimes nervous and ex-
cited, sometimes large and lugubrious, with six shopping
bags, sometimes looking like a headmistress at Dachau.
They are uniformly (until the last) unappetizing.
Throughout this, we SEE Ted becoming increasingly
It's very big...They didn't
tell me it was this big.
No...No, actually it's only two
Phew...This place is a real
Look, my wife just walked out
on me. Okay? It's been a tough
Don't tell me your troubles,
mister. I got enough of my own.
42 Note: With the FOURTH WOMAN we begin on a
CLOSE-UP and PULL BACK to REVEAL that we are in
Ted's office and it is the middle of the afternoon.
INT. TED KRAMER'S OFFICE - DAY
The first thing is, I don't do
At that point the door behind her opens and O'Connor
pokes his head in.
Or windows. I come in at ten and
I get Wednesdays off.
I'll be with you in a minute,
(back to the woman)
You couldn't make that Saturday,
43 INT. LIVING ROOM, KRAMER APT. - NIGHT
ON THE FIFTH WOMAN (MRS. WILLEWSKA)--She is a slightly
built attractive woman in her early sixties. There is
a long pause as she looks around.
What kind of boy is your son?
REACTION TED--This is the first person that ever asked
Well, he's...ah, he's a good kid.
He's shy and...I think he's
probably very creative and...
Could I see him?
Sure. He's right in here.
As they start toward the child's room.
44 INT. BILLY'S ROOM - NIGHT
In the darkness we can SEE Billy, all scrunched up in
the covers. HOLD FOR A BEAT as the door opens and the
light from the hall falls across the sleeping boy.
ON THE DOOR--Ted and Mrs. Willewska stand silhouetted
against the light.
Oh,...He's very beautiful.
ON BILLY--as he stirs, in his sleep.
MRS. WILLEWSKA (O.S.)
Mr. Kramer, you are a very lucky
REACTION, TED--This is the first time since Joanna left
that this has occurred to him.
Mrs. Willewska, could you start
45 INT. SUPERMARKET - DAY
ON BILLY AND TED, TRACKING JUST IN FRONT OF THEM--as they
wheel a shopping cart along the aisle. Ted has a
shopping list in his hand.
Ted stops, takes a box of detergent off of the shelf,
starts to put it in the shopping cart, when:
Mom, I mean dad...
(his mind elsewhere)
That's not the right soap. We
use the kind in the green and
C'mon, there's not much difference--
We use the green and yellow.
Ted looks at his son for a moment, then carefully
replaces the detergent that he had originally picked
and reaches for the green and yellow kind. They continue
on for several steps and Ted stops again, this time
looking for a dishwashing liquid. He starts to reach
for one, stops, looks around at Billy.
Billy shakes his head.
Ted points to another.
(shaking his head
The pink stuff.
Ted takes a bottle of the pink stuff, puts it in the
shopping cart and consults his shopping list.
Okay, what color cereal do we
46 EXT. PLAYGROUND, CENTRAL PARK - DAY
WIDE SHOT--It is that same afternoon and Billy (his
clothes are much dirtier by now) is running back and
forth with a group of other children.
MAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
Walk him over to Bethesda Fountain
and buy him an ice.
ON TED--He sits on one of the playground benches, the
work he took from the office stacked beside him on the
bench. Sitting next to him is a personable-looking man
of about Ted's age. He is nattily dressed in a suit
complete with vest, tie and polished Gucci loafers.
We will call him THE SATURDAY FATHER.
Note: The Saturday Father and his daughter (a pretty
young girl of about ten) will appear from time to time
throughout the film. He is a divorced father, putting
in his time, not giving a shit about the child. The
Saturday Father insists on treating Ted as though they
were members of the same secret fraternity. And he
comes to represent Ted's nightmare of what might happen
(looking in the
direction of the
Walk him over to Bethesda Fountain,
buy him an ice. It'll kill
I've got a lot more than twenty
minutes to kill.
(checking his watch)
...I get off duty at five-thirty.
(bored, anxious to
How long you been divorced?
Three months. How can you tell?
You've got that look. My lady
and I split two years ago in
August and I'm an old pro at
this shit. First thing, stay away
from the Children's Zoo. It's
pure hell--if I never see another
chicken, I'll be happy.
(calling out to his
I'm here, darling. Don't worry...
CLOSER ON TED--finding this distinctly unpleasant.
He glances around, looking for Billy.
HIS P.O.V.: The sprinkler area. Other children are
running around, but there is no sign of Billy.
HIS P.O.V.: Another area of the playground. Billy is
nowhere in sight.
WIDER ON TED--as he grabs his stuff and starts toward
the exit of the playground.
HIS P.O.V.: Looking in another direction. Nothing.
WIDE ON TED--standing among a crowd of people just out-
side the entrance to the playground. He is looking
HIS P.O.V.: There in the distance is Billy Kramer,
running as hard as he can away from Ted.
ON TED, TRACKING IN FRONT OF HIM--as he starts to chase
HIS P.O.V.: TRACKING FORWARD--It is clear that Billy
is running with a purpose.
Billy pays no attention to him.
ON TED, TRACKING IN FRONT OF HIM--as he continues to
chase his son.
HIS P.O.V.: TRACKING FORWARD--Closer now, we can SEE
that ahead of Billy is a woman that, from behind, looks
remarkably like Joanna.
CLOSER ON TED--as he realizes what is about to happen.
CLOSER ON BILLY--catching up to the woman.
A moment later he gets close enough to grab onto her
skirt. As the woman turns around:
C.U. WOMAN--quite clearly it is not Joanna.
CLOSE UP BILLY--His face becomes impassive again. All
the excitement vanishes.
Oh. I thought you were my mommy.
C.U. TED--His face reveals all of the pain that
47 INT. CLASSROOM, NURSERY SCHOOL - DAY
CLOSE ON A HOMEMADE CURTAIN--as it opens and Billy
Kramer, wearing an outsized moustache, a makeshift cape
and a stovepipe hat made from construction paper. He
stands for a moment, looking around, finally he spots
someone, grins and begins waving.
HIS P.O.V.: across the room eighteen to twenty
mothers (Ted Kramer is the only man present) are gathered,
sitting on tiny chairs and at work tables watching as
their children put on a show.
ON BILLY--Suddenly he forgets his lines, looks around
nervously. A moment later a very pretty young teacher
leans over, whispers in his ear.
Ladies and gentlemen...
Ladies and gentlemen...
Welcome to the greatest show on
Welcome to the...
(he forgets again)
REVERSE ON TED--He leans forward mouthing the words as
the teacher prompts Billy.
Ted breathes a sigh of relief, his son having gotten
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THE CHILDREN PUTTING ON THE SHOW
AND TED KRAMER SITTING IN THE AUDIENCE WATCHING--A look
of total pleasure on his face. From time to time when
Billy does something particularly difficult, Ted nudges
the woman next to him.
Note: In all of the shots of Billy we SEE the teacher
there guiding, helping, over and over and over we cannot
help but notice how attractive she is. Toward the end
of the show Ted's P.O.V. occasionally follows the teacher
rather than the child.
WIDE SHOT--The show is over and the parents and children
mill around eating popcorn, drinking lemonade from paper
cups. Ted stands off to one side, talking to the teacher
as Billy runs around.
CLOSER IN ON THEM:
Mr. Kramer, I just wanted to tell
you what a wonderful boy your son
I don't know...I've been worried...
making sure Billy
is out of earshot)
I mean, with what he's been through
and everything. I--
No...No...Billy is doing just fine.
a few points)
Well, you know it's not easy
raising a kid on your own and
I thought if we could get
together and, uh, discuss--
At that moment one of the class mothers interrupts,
reaches across Ted and takes hold of the teacher's hand.
Barbara! Congratulations! When
is the baby due?
Oh, God. Not 'til August.
CLOSE ON TED--inadvertently glancing at the teacher's
stomach, nothing shows.
ON THE TEACHER--as she turns back to Ted.
Excuse me. You said you wanted
to talk, Mr. Kramer.
Yes, but...ah, not now...
(checking his watch)
I've got an appointment...I forgot
all about it...
As Ted begins beating a hasty retreat,
48 EXT. STREET - DAY
ON TED, TRACKING IN FRONT OF HIM--as he walks down the
street carrying a large and elaborate papier mache art
thing that Billy made in school.
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN TED AND HIS POV, as he manages to
notice every single pretty girl that passes, thread his
way through the crowd and still balance Billy's enormous
work of art.
49 INT. AGENCY - DAY
ON THE ELEVATOR DOORS--as they open, Ted squeezes off
and AS THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH HIM, he crosses the
waiting room and enters the offices proper. He pauses
at his secretary's desk and deposits Billy's papier mache
thing. She jumps up from her desk, takes the papier
mache thing and her notebook in hand, and follows Ted
as he walks down the corridor towards O'Connor's office.
Mr. O'Connor called. There's a
meeting with the Revlon people
in the board room and you're
fifteen minutes late.
(in a rush)
I know....I know.
Mr. Schmidt can't have the figures
on the television buy until Monday.
No. Uh, uh. Tell him I asked for
it Friday. I want it Friday.
Mr. Lombardo from packaging wants
to meet on Friday.
50 By now they have reached the board room. He
enters without knocking, his secretary still in tow.
And Mrs. Kelsey called to ask
if Billy can come to Stephanie's
birthday party on Tuesday.
50 INT. BOARD ROOM - DAY
The room is filled with executives in three piece suits
and O'Connor who is doing a lot of backing and filling.
(as he enters)
Yes. Remind me to pick up a
"Crying Chrissie" doll at lunch
ON O'CONNOR--Clearly he is very irritated at this.
If it's all right with you, Mother
Kramer, can we get down to work
51 INT. PHYLLIS BERNARD'S OFFICE - DAY
It is a real mess, legal files and law books scattered
everywhere. In the midst of all this chaos sits PHYLLIS
BERNARD, as we said before, she is about thirty, very
pretty in spite of her glasses.
ON PHYLLIS--She looks up as Ted enters. It is clear
from their attitude that they have known one another for
a long time and are very relaxed together.
ON TED--He drops into a chair and shoves a stack of
papers across the desk to her.
Hiya, Phyllis. These are the
Revlon contracts. I thought
you ought to check them out.
She takes the papers and starts to rifle through them,
stopping every so often and making a note in the margin.
As she does, we notice that the second and third buttons
of her blouse have come undone and that she is not wearing
CLOSER ON TED--as he realizes this.
ON PHYLLIS--She glances up to ask Ted a question about
some point or other, notices the direction of his gaze
and, unselfconsciously buttons up her blouse.
She goes back to her papers as Ted continues to watch her.
ON PHYLLIS--not looking up from her papers.
(looks up, serious)
Yes, I'll have dinner with you.
52 INT. TED KRAMER'S BEDROOM - LATE AT NIGHT
ON THE BED--Although the room is dimly lit, we can SEE
quite clearly that Ted and Phyllis are in bed together.
They have finished making love and Ted lies back, half
asleep. Phyllis reaches across to the nightstand, puts
on her glasses and checks her watch.
Kramer, I've got to go. I've got
an eight o'clock closing tomorrow
down on Centre Street.
Mmmmnph...I'll get you a cab...
But he makes no move to get up.
Phyllis gets to her feet and in the dim light we can SEE
that, except for her glasses, she is naked.
(as she crosses the
hall on the way to
That's okay. It's just that I've
got these clients that are--
53 INT. BATHROOM - NIGHT
There is Billy Kramer, standing by the toilet, buttoning
his pajamas. He looks up at Phyllis.
His P.O.V.: There stands Phyllis, naked as the day she
was born, a look of stunned amazement on her face.
(softly to herself)
Too startled to cover herself.
ON BILLY--He looks her up and down, then:
Do you like fried chicken?
ON PHYLLIS--suddenly remembering to cover herself.
it is the right answer)
SHOT--Phyllis and Billy.
So do I...
And he shuffles off to bed. Phyllis waits, frozen until
he disappears into his room. Then, she turns and flees
back into the bedroom.
54 INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
ON PHYLLIS--as she bursts into the room, closes the door
behind her, leans against it.
I just met your son.
ON TED--who has leapt out of bed and is scrambling into
He wanted to know if I liked
Phyllis nods rather frantically.
So what's your problem?
55 INT. KITCHEN, KRAMER APT. - EVENING
ON TED AND THELMA--stand side by side. He is cutting,
chopping, making some kind of stew. Thelma stands
nearby watching, sipping a glass of white wine.
FROM O.S. we can hear Billy and Kim running around,
You ever think about getting
No, not really...
(she thinks for
a moment, then:)
I guess it's different if you
don't have children, but...I
dunno, even if Charley and I
don't live together, even if
we're sleeping with other people,
even if Charley was to marry
again...He'd still be my husband.
That stuff about "Till death do
you part?" That's really true.
(nodding toward a
cookbook that is
propped open nearby)
How many onions does it say to
to look in the book)
Three. And add some basil.
(as he does)
D'you think you and Charley'll
ever get back together again?
No. I don't think so.
C'mon, Thel. So Charley had a
little fling. So what? All in
all he was a pretty good husband.
Look, I know this isn't gonna
make any sense, okay? I mean
forget the logic part...But I
keep thinking if Charley really
loved me, he wouldn't have let
me divorce him.
56 EXT. CENTRAL PARK - DAY
WIDE SHOT--The Saturday Father and his daughter, clearly
with nothing to say to one another, stand eating ices
from a nearby vendor. THE CAMERA PANS AWAY FROM THEM
across to Billy, Ted and Phyllis. She is dressed in a
very nice suit, silk blouse, high heeled shoes and looks
distinctly out of place in Central Park on a Saturday
At the moment, Ted is trying to teach Billy how to bat.
Now look, you hold it like this...
(he places Billy's hands
on the bat just so)
...and you swing like this...
(taking him through
ON PHYLLIS--watching. She can't believe what she's
seeing. Finally, she can't stand it any longer.
No, no, no, Kramer. That's not
how you do it. Look....
She crosses to Billy, gently takes the bat from him and
...you hold it like this...
(showing him her grip)
Farther down the bat. And you
swing like this...
Throw me one.
ON TED--as he gives Billy a look that says, we have to
humor her. He throws a ball.
ON PHYLLIS--as she swings, connects and slams a ball in
a long, looping fly that goes at least two hundred feet.
ON TED--watching the ball disappear in the distance,
he turns back to Phyllis, open-mouthed.
CLOSE ON PHYLLIS--Embarrassed, she grins, shrugs and
hands the bat back to Billy.
57 INT. O'CONNOR'S OFFICE - DAY
WIDE SHOT--O'Connor, Murray and the Art Director are
in O'Connor's office as the door opens and Ted enters,
carrying a pile of papers, charts, graphs, etc., etc.
Okay, Jim. Here's the report
He stops in mid-sentence, looks around.
HIS P.O.V.: On the walls are a series of mock-ups of
the various Fire and Ice ads, none of which are what
Ted and O'Connor had agreed upon.
What the hell is this?
Murray had some ideas about the
Fire and Ice campaign and he had
the art department make up a
I think they're kind of interesting.
I don't. Jim, this isn't
anything like what we talked
about. It's not even close.
Ted, basically it's still your
Murray just added a few things,
Now hold it right there, I'm
the one that went in and sold
Revlon on this idea to start
with, remember? You said I
was going to be--
Sound-effect: the phone rings.
O'Connor picks it up.
He listens for a moment, then hands the phone to Ted.
It's for you.
ON TED--as he takes the receiver.
Then, embarrassed, he turns his back and lowers his
Look, Billy, I told you before,
one hour of T.V. a day, that's
(clearly, Billy is
giving him an
I don't care what the other
mothers do...Listen, I can't
talk now, I'm in a meeting...
Billy, I'll talk to you later,
Note: during the phone call, the CAMERA PANS AWAY TO
MURRAY & O'CONNOR, looks of bored condescension and smug
superiority on their faces.
Ted hangs up the phone and turns back around.
Ted, I appreciate what you're
saying, but I really think you're
just too close to it right now.
Look it's just some ideas, okay?
I mean nothing's locked in cement.
I promise you this is your show...
ON TED--Not very reassured.
Trust me on this one, Ted...
58 INT. LIVING ROOM, KRAMER APT. - NIGHT
Ted is sitting at the dining room table, working.
Spread out all across the table are layouts, rate
sheets, etc., etc. Billy sits across from him draw-
ing on a pad with felt-tipped pens. HOLD FOR A BEAT,
(worried about some-
Mom, I mean dad...
In a minute...
A beat of silence then:
What do you do when an elephant
sits on your fence?
You get a new fence.
(he hasn't heard a
C'mon, Billy. I'm trying to
work for God's sake...
Another beat of silence, then Billy reaches for his
glass of Hawaiian Punch and accidentally tips it over,
spilling purple liquid across all of Ted's papers.
Instantly, Ted is on his feet, yelling.
Goddamnit, can't you watch what
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THEM:
Je-sus Christ! I catch all kind
of shit at the office because
I'm not pulling my weight
because I'm busting my butt
trying to be a decent goddamn
That's terrific. That's really
terrific, but I notice I'm the
one that's cleaning up this--
Oh, crap, I'll have to do this
(starting to help)
By now there is nothing the boy can do right.
Look, it's after your bedtime,
okay? Just do me a favor and
go to bed, okay?
Billy gets to his feet, collects his stuff and
59 walks into his bedroom. HOLD ON TED who sits
for a moment, then gets wearily to his feet and
as THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH HIM crosses to the door of
Billy's room. He stops in the doorway, looks O.S.
HIS P.O.V.: Billy struggling to get his pajamas on,
having a hard time.
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THEM
Look, I'm sorry I yelled, okay?
It's just...I've been catching
a lot of flack at the office...
60 INT. OFFICE - DAY
ON THE DOOR TO O'CONNOR'S OFFICE--as it opens and
Phyllis comes out. In the B.G. in O'Connor's office
we SEE O'Connor and Murray, talking, laughing. THE
CAMERA TRACKS ALONGSIDE PHYLLIS as she walks to Ted
Kramer's office and opens the door without knocking.
How about lunch, Kramer. I'm
61 INT. RESTAURANT, MIDTOWN - DAY
ON TED AND PHYLLIS--as they sit across from one another.
A waiter stands over them, setting drinks in front of
Perrier and lime...
(placing a drink
in front of Phyllis)
...and scotch with soda.
(putting Ted's drink
in front of him)
The waiter bustles away.
Okay, Phyllis, what's up?
She breaks off, uncertain whether or not to go on.
Then, making up her mind, she reaches across, takes
Ted's scotch and soda and drinks half of it down in
(in a rush)
O'Connor's out to get you. He's
going to take the Fire and Ice
account away from you.
I don't believe it! That's
crazy! Why would Jim do something
Phyllis polishes off the rest of Ted's drink.
You want to know why? I'll tell
Another scotch and soda for
(back to Ted)
I'll tell you exactly why.
Because you're not his buddy
anymore. Because he can't
count on you to sit around the
office every night until eight
or nine and shoot the shit with
I can't. I've got Billy to
take care of.
You dope. O'Connor doesn't
give a damn about Billy. All
he wants is somebody that'll
hang around with him every night
so he won't have to go home.
I don't believe you.
The waiter sets Ted's drink on the table in front of him.
He starts to reach for it, but Phyllis is quicker.
(taking a stiff drink)
All right. Okay. But tell me
something, Kramer. Who do you
think is palling around with
O'Connor these days?
How should I know?
REACTION, TED--stunned, but trying to be nonchalant.
So...what's so terrible about
(would like to take
him by the shoulders
and shake him until
his teeth rattle)
Oh, for God's sake, Kramer.
You have got to be the world's
most naive human being.
Murray has gone in and changed
every single ad you've done on
the entire Fire and Ice campaign.
Every layout...Every idea...Every
single thing, right down the line.
No. No, I don't believe it.
Jim O'Connor would never let
anything like that happen. He
gave me my shot in this business.
If it wasn't for Jim O'Connor I'd
be--I don't know where I'd be.
He's a wonderful man...
having upset Ted)
Kramer, I'm sorry. All I was
trying to do was--
(cutting her off)
I don't want to hear another
word against him. Not another
word. He's a wonderful man
...a wonderful man...
62 INT. TED KRAMER'S OFFICE - DAY
INSERT: The finished proof of the ad that Murray had
done, that Ted had seen in O'Connor's office.
ON TED, TRACKING WITH HIM as he steams out of his door
and marches along the corridor to O'Connor's office.
(as Ted brushes past her)
I'm sorry, Mr. O'Connor is in
But it is too late. Ted barrels into O'Connor's office
without bothering to knock.
63 INT. O'CONNOR'S OFFICE - DAY
O'Connor is alone in the office. He looks up startled
as Ted comes barging in.
All right, Jim. You said I was
running this show, right? You
said no decisions without my
(brandishing the ad)
Well what the hell is this?
What's going on, Jim?
Well, ah...I thought it over and
I decided we're doing it Murray's
Jim, this is garbage. This isn't
anything like what we talked
to Revlon about. None of it.
That's my decision, Ted and that's
64 INT. DINING AREA, KRAMER APT. - NIGHT
ON BILLY--who sits looking down at the plate of food in
front of him as though it was a coiled rattlesnake about
What is it?
ON TED--preoccupied, jumpy. He is eating, but he
doesn't taste a thing.
I hate it.
You don't hate it. We had
Salisbury steak last week
and you liked it fine.
No I didn't. I hate the brown
stuff. It's gross.
All it is is onions and gravy.
I'm allergic to onions.
You are not allergic of onions.
You've had them lots of times.
I want a pizza.
(trying not to lose
No. This is fine. Just take
a bite, you'll like it fine.
Reluctantly, Billy takes a tiny bite. He barely puts
it in his mouth before he spits it out with a great
show of being physically ill.
I think I'm going to throw up.
(getting pissed off)
Oh, for God's sake...Here.
He reaches across and scrapes most of the sauce off of
There, okay? Now that's just
plain old hamburger.
Some of the brown stuff is still
Then eat around it.
Now listen to me, young man.
Do you know what I had to go
through to put this goddamn
food on the goddamn table?
I don't care. I hate it. I
Not on your life. That's it.
I've had it with crap around
this house. From now on, no more
pizza! Get it? Starting right
now you can eat real food like
a normal human being!
By now both of them are out of control.
You want to know something?!
You are a spoiled selfish little
brat! Now eat--
Billy takes his plate and looking his father straight
in the eye deliberately overturns it, spilling food
ON TED--He is out of his chair like a shot, crosses to
Billy and jerks him to his feet.
Goddamnit! Go to your room!
He half-carries, half-drags the child kicking and
screaming into his room. THE CAMERA TRACKS ALONGSIDE
(at the top of his
Owwww...You're hurting me...
You're hurting me...I hate you
...I hate you...
You're no bargain either, pal.
I want my mommy...I want my
65 By now they have reached Billy's room. Ted dumps
him on the bed unceremoniously and starts out of
I want my...mm...ommy...I want
(at the door)
Tough shit. You're stuck with
And he slams the door behind him.
66 WIDE SHOT--the dining area. Ted sits down
and tries to resume his meal alone.
to catch his breath)
I want my...mmmo...mmmy. I want
CLOSER IN ON TED--as he lifts his glass to take a
drink and we can SEE that he is shaking like a leaf.
67 INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT
ON TED--as he finishes doing the last of the dishes,
dries his hands and looks around to make sure that
everything has been put away. He flips off the light
and, as THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH HIM, he walks from room
to room, turning off the lights, until he reaches the
door to Billy's room which is still closed. Ted
hesitates for a moment, then eases open the door and
68 INT. BILLY'S ROOM - NIGHT
TED'S P.O.V.: Billy lies sprawled across the bed, all
tangled up in the covers.
ON TED--as he crosses to the sleeping child and starts
to straighten the covers.
(all anger gone)
That's okay, pal. Go back to
sleep. It's very late.
He starts to get up, when:
Are you...gonna go...away?
ON TED--stunned at the question.
Of course I'm not going away.
I love you very much. I'll
be right here.
There is a beat of silence, then:
(it comes pouring
That's why mommy left...isn't
it? 'Cause I was bad...
The boy begins to weep.
(he puts his arm
around Billy and
holds him close)
Oh, Christ...Oh, Christ...
(he thinks for
a moment, then:)
No, pal. Your mom loves you
very much. The reason she left
didn't have anything to do with
(pause, this is
Look, I don't know if this will
make any sense to you, okay?
But I'll try and explain. You
see the reason your mom left
was because...Well, I guess it
was because I kept trying to
make her into a certain kind of
person...Make her be the way I
thought a wife was supposed to
be. Only she wasn't like that.
(smiles to himself)
Well, she wasn't like that. And
now, when I think about it, I
can see she tried very hard to
be like I wanted--very hard.
And when she couldn't, then
she tried to tell me about it.
Only I wouldn't listen. I guess
I thought that if I was happy,
that meant she was happy too.
Only she wasn't. The truth is,
the only reason she didn't leave
a lot sooner was because she loves
you so much. Joanna stayed until
she couldn't stand me any longer
and then she left...But it wasn't
you, pal. It wasn't you.
There is a long beat of silence as Billy thinks about
this. Clearly an enormous burden has been lifted from
his shoulders. Finally:
Is mom ever coming back?
You mean for good?
I don't think so.
Ted gets to his feet, starts for the door.
Now go to sleep. It's very late.
Don't let the bedbugs bite.
See you in the morning light.
Ted pauses in the doorway, smiles.
I love you...
69 EXT. CENTRAL PARK - DAY
A SERIES OF TRACKING SHOTS--as Ted runs along beside
Billy, who is learning to ride a bike. Then, in the
last shot, Ted lets go of the bike and runs along just
behind. Slowly as Billy gains confidence he speeds up,
leaving Ted farther and farther behind. Finally, as
Billy glances over his shoulders.
TED'S P.O.V.: As the boy, by now a considerable distance
away, turns and waves.
ON TED--Waving back, a grin of enormous pride on his
face. He glances around, embarrassed to make sure no
one is watching and wipes tears from his eyes.
70 EXT. STREET - DAY
ON A BUS--as it pulls to a stop and a mob of mothers
and children get off. Among them we spot Billy and
Ted Kramer. THE CAMERA PANS WITH THEM as they cross
the street and enter the school building. THE CAMERA
CONTINUES IT'S PAN across the street, to a Coffee Shop
with large plate glass windows facing the school.
There, standing in the window, watching, is Joanna
Kramer. HOLD As THE CAMERA SLOWLY ZOOMS IN ON HER and
we SEE a look of overwhelming pain on her face.
71 EXT. PLAYGROUND, CENTRAL PARK - AFTERNOON
ON TED AND THELMA--sitting on a bench, the area around
them is stacked high with toys that the kids have
brought with them to the park.
O.S. we can HEAR Billy and Kim racing around, playing.
(a little too casual)
Thel, you ever hear from Joanna?
(also with deliberate
Not for a couple of months.
The last time I heard from her
she was living in San Francisco.
Uh, huh...She said she had a
good job, was playing a lot of
tennis. She wanted to know
all about Billy.
There is a beat of silence, then:
(the real question)
She ever ask about me?
What d'you tell her?
I told her you're doing a
pretty good job.
Ted glances around:
HIS P.O.V.: Billy and Kim are standing near the jungle
Jim. Billy has a toy airplane in his hand.
Daddy, look! Presenting Billy
Kramer's Fantastic Superjet!
And he begins to race around the area, making jet
noises and holding the airplane in his hand.
REVERSE ON TED--watching him, smiling.
ON BILLY--weaving in and around the benches. He
turns and starts back towards Ted. As he does:
QUICK CUT: INSERT: Billy's foot, as he trips.
ON BILLY--as he starts to fall, still holding onto the
QUICK CUT, TED--watching, horrified.
ON BILLY--as he hits the concrete.
ON TED--He leaps to his feet, starts toward the boy.
ON BILLY--as he looks up.
JUMP CUT IN, TO EXTREME CLOSE UP--There is a terrible-
looking gash running from his cheek into his hairline.
Kim screams at the sight of the blood.
72 EXT. ENTRANCE TO CENTRAL PARK - AFTERNOON
ON THE ENTRANCE--as Ted, carrying Billy, wrapped in his
coat, comes barreling out of the park, nearly knocking
over several people with shopping bags, and begins
running like hell WITH THE CAMERA TRACKING JUST IN
FRONT OF HIM. In the B.G. we SEE Thelma and Kim chasing
after him. THE LENGTH OF THE TRACKING SHOT SHOULD BE
MUCH LONGER THAN WE EXPECT. IT SHOULD, IN FACT, COVER
THE THREE CITY BLOCKS BETWEEN THE KRAMER APARTMENT AND
THE HOSPITAL, ACROSS STREETS WITHOUT STOPPING FOR THE
LIGHT, ALONG CROWDED SIDEWALKS WITHOUT STOPPING, ENDING
FINALLY ON THE EMERGENCY ENTRANCE TO THE HOSPITAL. IT
MUST BE GENUINELY SUPERHUMAN, GENUINELY HEROIC.
73 INT. EXAMINATION ROOM, EMERGENCY SECTION,
HOSPITAL - DAY
ON TED KRAMER--He is covered with Billy's blood, it is
on his face, his shirt, his trousers. At the moment 'he
stands helpless, watching as, Off-Screen, a surgeon
examines Billy's wound.
That's good, Billy...That's a
brave boy...Now then, how's that?
Now we've cleaned it out...
WIDER SHOT--Billy lies on the examining table with the
doctor bending over him.
There. That wasn't so bad, was
Billy doesn't say anything.
Now then, you just wait here,
Billy. I want to talk to your
dad for a minute.
The doctor motions for Thelma to wait with Billy and he
crosses to Ted who stands in the doorway.
CLOSER IN ON THEN
(low voice, again calm
Your boy is very lucky, Mr.
Kramer. One inch over and it
would have caught the eye.
But I'm going to have to take
Ted closes his eyes, there is a sharp intake of breath.
Because of the position of the
wound and your son's age, I
don't think there will be much
of a scar. Otherwise I'd call in
a plastic surgeon.
Now, I'd advise you to wait
outside. It'll be eas--
(like a shot)
Mr. Kramer, there's--
(softly, but with
Fuck you. He's my son. I'm
staying with him.
CLOSE ON TED--He holds his son tightly while the doctor
stitches up the boy's wound. From THIS CAMERA ANGLE
we can SEE Ted's face, but only the back of Billy's
head. Although we do not see the stitches being made,
we do SEE the doctor's hand, with the needle and
surgical thread as it moves into and out of view with
a slow, steady rhythm. Billy's hand clutches Ted's so
tightly that the knuckles are white.
(softly, as each
stitch is taken)
(whispering to his
It's okay, son...I'm here...
Just a little more to go...
Don't worry, son...I'm here...
FADE TO BLACK:
74 EXT. KRAMER APT. BLDG. - NIGHT
WIDE SHOT--It is late, only a few lights are still on.
75 INT. BILLY'S ROOM - NIGHT
ON BILLY--He lies in bed, fast asleep, his head swathed
in bandages. THE CAMERA PANS AWAY FROM HIM across to
Ted, who sits in a nearby rocking chair, watching his
son. HOLD FOR A BEAT, then Ted gets to his feet, walks
quietly to the door and steps out into the hall, closing
the door behind him.
76 INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT
WIDE SHOT--Thelma having washed and dried the dishes is
now wiping off the top of the counter top, more to keep
busy than anything else. She looks around as Ted enters.
How is he?
REVERSE ON TED--standing in the doorway. He hasn't
changed his clothes and he is still covered with blood.
He's okay...Thel, can I ask you
I don't mean a little favor.
mean a big F favor.
Thelma nods. She watches Ted closely. He doesn't look
Thelma, if I die--
I didn't say I'm going to die,
but if I should--
Don't say that! I don't want to
hear you say that!
Thel, listen to me. If, on the
million to one shot that I
That anything should happen to
me. Would you take care of
Me?! You want me to take care
I thought about it a lot and
you're the only person I know
that I trust with him. I mean,
if anything happened to me,
he'd be okay with you. You're
a good mother.
Silence. Thelma looks away from him.
I know it's not an easy thing to
Silence. She still cannot look at him.
Look, if it's too much
Thelma nods, unable to speak.
She nods again.
Thank you, Thel. Thank you
77 INT. BILLY'S ROOM - EARLY MORNING
MED. SHOT ON BILLY--as he lies in bed asleep. Some time
has passed and Billy's bandage is much smaller. HOLD ON
HIM as we HEAR
O.S. Sound: From the street below, the regular six-
forty-five garbage truck that serves as Billy's alarm
HOLD ON BILLY as he wakes up, struggles to his feet.
THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH HIM as, eyes closed, he stumbles
into the bathroom, pees, and still not remembering to
flush the toilet walks into the bedroom and wakes his
father. As the child turns and walks toward the
kitchen, THE CAMERA HOLDS ON TED. He heaves himself
to his feet and, eyes closed, in much the same manner
as his son, stumbles into the bathroom. He automatically
flushes the toilet without bothering to look, walks
into the living room, opens the front door and picks
up the paper. As he starts into the kitchen, he meets
Billy coming the other way carrying two plates, a
doughnut on each.
THE CAMERA NOW TRACKS WITH BILLY as he walks into the
living room, carefully sets the plates on the dining
table, crosses to the television set, and turns it on.
He returns to the table, and sits down as Ted appears
carrying two glasses of orange juice and vitamins. He
takes a seat in the chair opposite Billy and opens his
paper and starts to read.
HOLD ON THEM as they sit without talking, eating their
breakfast--the only sound, a children's cartoon program
coming from the T.V. From time to time Ted glances up
from his paper to look across at the cartoon.
HOLD ON THEM as we SEE that they have become roommates
in the best sense of the word.
78 EXT. TED'S OFFICE BLDG. MIDTOWN - DAY
WIDE SHOT--It is a gray, cloudy day in mid-November.
Snow is falling.
Sound-effect: a telephone ringing. Then:
79 INT. RESTAURANT, ISLE OF CAPRI - NIGHT
ON THE DOOR--as Ted enters, looks around. The Maitre
d'hotel approaches. From his attitude, it is clear
that Ted and Joanna were regular customers.
Good evening, Mr. Kramer. We
haven't seen you for a long time.
Mrs. Kramer, she waits for you
in the back.
Thank you, John.
THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH TED as he walks toward the back
room of the restaurant. Several waiters approach and
say hello, the piano player looks up and smiles. As
he reaches the door to the back room.
80 INT. BACK ROOM
TED'S P.O.V., JOANNA: She sits against the wall, a
glass of white wine in front of her. She is dressed
simply and no longer has a tan. Nevertheless, Joanna
is still stunningly beautiful. HOLD ON HER FOR A BEAT
as she looks up, smiles.
ON TED--He stands watching her, his knees weak. It is
impossible not to fall in love with her all over again.
TWO SHOT--as he crosses to her table, sits down.
Hello, Ted. You look well.
So do you.
The waiter appears, carrying a scotch and soda. He
sets it down on the table in front of Ted.
The usual, Mr. Kramer.
(not taking his eyes
The waiter nods and promptly disappears.
How's the new job?
There is a self-conscious pause. From the bar, the
piano player begins playing a new song. From Ted and
Joanna's reaction, it is clearly a song that has meant
a great deal to them in the past. They listen for a
Look at us, Joanna. Just like
any old married couple having
dinner. Who would believe it.
ON TED--The question he has been dreading.
(not looking at
...Except he had...he fell and
he cut his face. He...He has a
scar, Joanna, from about here to
and how big)
There is a beat of silence. A moment of shared feeling.
(he has to say it
I can't help but feel somehow...
it's my fault. I keep thinking
I could've done something--
You can't tell it from a distance,
For the first time he looks up at her.
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THEM
I've seen him.
A few times. Sometimes I sit in
that coffee shop across the street
and watch when you take him to
He looks like a terrific kid.
(he still can't get
You sat in that coffee shop
across from school--
(completing the sentence)
Watching my son...Ted, I've been
living in New York for the past
You've been living here, in
(a deep breath)
Ted...The reason I wanted to see
you...I want Billy back.
You want what?!
I want my son. I'm through
sitting in coffee shops looking
at him from across the street.
I want my son.
Are you out of your mind?!
You're the one that walked out
on him, remember?
(trying to explain)
Ted, listen to me...You and I,
we had a really crappy marriage--
Look, don't get so defensive,
okay? It was probably as much
my fault as it was yours...
Anyway when I left I was really
Joanna, I don't give a--
(she will be heard)
Ted, all my life I'd either been
somebody's daughter or somebody's
wife, or somebody else's mother.
Then all of a sudden, I was
a thirty-two-year-old, highly
neurotic woman who had just
walked out on her husband and
child. I went to California
because that was about as far
away as I could get. Only...
I guess it wasn't far enough.
So I started going to a shrink.
Ted, I've had time to think.
I've been through some changes.
I've learned a lot about myself.
(like a shot)
Come on, Joanna, what did you
learn? I'd really like to know.
One thing, okay? Just tell me
one goddam thing you've learned.
There is a beat of silence, then:
I've learned that I want my son.
ON TED--He reacts as though he has been slapped.
Joanna, go be a mother. Get
married, have kids. Don't get
married, have kids. Do whatever
you want. I don't give a damn.
Just leave me out of it--and
leave my baby out of it.
Ted, if you can't discuss this
(getting to his feet)
Joanna, go fuck yourself!
And with that he turns on his heels and stalks out of
81 INT. LAWYER'S OFFICE - DAY
WIDE SHOT--A large, very plush office: lots of
antiques, beautiful nineteenth century paintings on the
wall along with autographed photographs of at least
three ex-Presidents of the United States. Sitting
behind a large and imposing desk is JOHN SHAUNESSY,
a handsome, formidable man in his early sixties. He
is well-dressed, a cornflower in his buttonhole, that
sort of thing. At the moment, Shaunessy leans back
in his chair as Ted finishes his story.
Look, she walked out on her own
child, right? That's desertion,
right? Mr. Shaunessy, I'm
telling you it's an open and
First, there's no such thing
as an open and shut case.
Especially where custody is
involved. Got it?
Second, the burden is on us to
prove your ex-wife is an unfit
mother. That means I'm going to
have to play rough and, if I
play rough, you can bet they
will too. Can you take that,
Third, it'll cost you five
REACTION TED--That's an astronomical amount of money
That's if we win. If we lose,
you could end up having to pay
your wife's court costs as well.
Good. You've hired yourself
a hell of a lawyer, Mr. Kramer.
(down to business)
How old is the child?
ON SHAUNESSY--He shakes his head.
That's tough. In most cases
involving a child that young,
the court tends to side with
ON TED--agitated. This is not what he wanted to hear.
But she signed over custody.
He digs in his pockets, pulls out a piece of paper and
thrusts it at the lawyer.
(glancing at it)
I'm not saying we don't have a
shot, but it won't be easy...
(thinks for a moment)
Mr. Kramer, do me a favor. There
is something I find very helpful
in matters like this. I sit
down and make a list of all the
pros and cons on an issue.
I actually write them down and
look at them. I want you to
do that, okay? Then, after
that, if you're really sure you
want to retain custody of
your child--then we'll go in
there and whip their asses.
82 INT. LIVING ROOM, KRAMER APT. - LATE AT NIGHT
WIDE SHOT--Ted sits at the dining table, the supper
dishes have been pushed aside. He has a legal pad in
front of him and is writing. THE CAMERA DOLLIES IN
INSERT, TED'S P.O.V.: The legal pad. On one side
Ted has written "Pro" and on the other, "Con." Under-
neath "Con" Ted has written a long list of the draw-
backs involved in keeping Billy: Sex Life, Money,
Possibility of Remarriage, Sleep, Emotional Dependence.
The "Pro" side of the list is empty.
ON TED--He sits for a moment, staring at the list, then
he crumples the paper, gets to his feet.
83 INT. BILLY'S ROOM - NIGHT
ON THE DOOR--as Ted enters. He crosses to Billy's
bed where the child is fast asleep, sits down on the
edge, and starts to rub the child's back.
I love you Billy Kramer.
I love you too daddy.
Ted kisses the child, gets to his feet and starts
toward the door.
Sleep tight. Don't let the
(almost asleep again)
See you in the morning light...
84 - OMIT
88 INT. O'CONNOR'S OFFICE - DAY
WIDE SHOT--O'Connor stands with his back to Ted, looking
out the window. From the beginning this is clearly an
awkward and unpleasant moment.
(scared to do what he
is about to do)
Look, ah...Ted. I just got word
from the guys at Revlon and...ah
they did some marketing tests on
our campaign and the results were...
CLOSE ON TED: Hold on him listening as it slowly dawns
on him that he is being fired.
Disappointing. It only pulled a
fourteen share and they were
hoping for a twenty-five minimum,
and...ah...they're not very happy
and...Well, the guys have decided
they want to...ah, re-think the
entire concept and...Look, I don't
like having to do this, okay?...
But...I mean, what I mean is...ah,
I'm going to have to...ah, let you
(not really sure he
Are you firing me, Jim?
ON O'CONNOR--He still has his back to Ted.
C'mon, Ted, don't get emotional.
Look, this isn't exactly an easy
thing for me to do, y'know? I
swear Murray and I did everything
we could, but those sons of bitches
were out for blood. I mean it was
all I could do to keep the account
inside the shop... Look, I promise,
if I hear of anything I'll let you
know first thing. Ted, I want--
O'Connor looks around.
HIS POV: The room is empty, the door stands open and
Ted is gone.
88A INT. TED'S OFFICE - DAY
WIDE SHOT--as Ted grabs a picture of Billy from his desk,
takes his jacket and coat and stalks out the door.
88B EXT. STREET - DAY
TRACKING ALONGSIDE TED--as he walks along the street in
a state of total shock. Behind him, in the windows of
expensive stores we note Christmas decorations.
88C INT. INTERVIEW ROOM, EMPLOYMENT AGENCY - DAY
WIDE SHOT--Ted sits across from the interviewer, a
polished young man in his middle twenties, very
efficient, he sounds a bit like a tape recording.
(glancing at a form
Ted has filled out)
Ummm, hmmm... umm, hmmm...
(the good news)
Well, this looks very good.. Of
(the bad news)
... you understand this is the
worst time of the year to look
for a job.
What?! What do you mean, I don't
Mr. Kramer, nobody even thinks
about leaving their job until
after they get their Christmas
Look, you don't understand. I
need a job. I've got a kid and--
I understand and I'm absolutely
sure something wonderful will
(ending any further
...after the first of the year.
88D EXT. STREET - DAY
ON A TELEPHONE BOOTH--Ted stands inside, talking on the
phone. AS THE CAMERA DOLLIES IN CLOSER, he hangs up
the receiver and takes the employment section of the New
York Times which is filled with listings he has circled
and crosses off one. He goes on to the next, takes a
dime from the stack on the shelf in front of him and
starts to dial.
88E EXT. TED KRAMER'S APT. HOUSE - EVENING
88F INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT
ON TED--who stands at the sink doing the last of the
dishes. A dishtowel is tucked into his belt, serving
as an apron. HOLD ON HIM as we HEAR:
Sound-effect: the phone ringing.
Ted wipes his hands, picks up the phone.
(from the phone)
Mr. Kramer? Please hold for Mr.
Then, a moment later:
Ted? They've set the court date.
I just heard today...It's...
(checking his notes)
Oh, Christ.. .John, there's some-
thing I ought to tell you. My...
ah, situation has...changed. I
lost my job.
There is a long pause, too long.
Ted, I won't lie to you, we don't
have a hope in hell of winning a
custody hearing if you're out of
Ted doubles over the phone like he has been hit in the
(softly, but with
Good Christ, Joanna, just get the
hell out of my life.
Ted? Are you there?
(trying to make
himself believe it)
Don't worry. I plan to have
something within twenty-four
How the hell are you going to do
I don't know.
89 INT. INTERVIEW ROOM, EMPLOYMENT AGENCY - DAY
WIDE SHOT--The same young man sits across the desk from
Mis-ter Kramer, as I mentioned
yesterday, this is a very bad
time of year to look for work.
Now I'm sure we'll have something
for you by mid-February, March
at the latest.
CLOSE ON TED--leaning forward, impatient.
I need a job, now.
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THEM--The interviewer gives Ted a
weary look. Then he starts to flip through the card
(going through the
Finally he pauses at one card, pulls it out.
There might be something at J.
Walter Thompson. But...
(shaking his head)
...I don't think they're really
serious. The position's been
open for two months and...
They may just be on a fishing
I'm sure you'll be much happier
if you wait until after the
Call up the people at J. Walter
Thompson. Set up an appointment
almost to the breaking
Mis-ter Kramer, it's...
(checking his watch)
...almost four now. It's the
Friday before Christmas. Nobody
is going to want to--
tough as nails)
Either you call and set up the
appointment, or I'll call. And
if I call, you lose the
My, we are a hot shot aren't we?
Ted is already on his feet and halfway out the door.
You bet your ass.
90 INT. OFFICE ADVERTISING MANAGER, J. WALTER
THOMPSON - LATE AFTERNOON
It is dark outside and the lights are on in the office.
From beyond the door, we can hear the sounds of a
Christmas office party in full swing.
ON JACK ACKERMAN--The advertising manager. A balding
man in his mid-forties, he wears a suit, complete with
vest. At the moment he sits behind his desk listening
to Ted's spiel, from time to time he glances at the
resume on the desk in front of him.
So, Mr. Ackerman, as you can see
from my resume, my experience in
setting up the leisure package
concept means that I've spent a
lot of time working along the
same lines as your multiple buys
and your regional advertising
ideas. I know the pitfalls, but
--and this is more important--I
know the potential revenue for
the company inherent in these
ON TED--as he finishes. He sits back, pleased with
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THEM
Well, Mr. Kramer, I must say this
has been very impressive. I'd
like to think about it and
get back to you.
Mr. Ackerman, is there anyone
else that I should see before
you come to a decision.
Mr. Spencer, our Advertising
(no time to waste)
Could I see him right away?
I'm sorry, but he's leaving this
evening for a two-week vacation.
I'll set up something the moment
he gets back.
He gets to his feet, starts to shake Ted's hand, ready
to end the interview.
I'd like to see him now--before
Mr. Kramer, I don't think--
I want this position very much.
Ackerman gives Ted a long, considered look, then:
He turns and goes out the door.
91 INT. OUTER OFFICE, J. WALTER THOMPSON -
The large room is crowded with secretaries, junior
executives, researchers, editors, ad-men, etc., etc.
They all have drinks in their hands and there is a good
deal of kissing and general conviviality going on.
THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH ACKERMAN as he steps out of his
office, closes the door behind him and makes his way
across the room to MR. SPENCER, the Advertising Director.
At the moment, Spencer stands with his coat over one
arm and a drink in his hand talking to a very pretty
young woman. Ackerman approaches him, whispers some-
thing in his ear. Spencer shakes his head and points
to his watch. Ackerman says something else and finally,
with a look of weary resignation, Spencer excuses him-
self from the pretty young woman and follows Ackerman
back to his office. THE CAMERA FOLLOWS THEM. As
Ackerman opens the door to his office, THE CAMERA IS
ANGLED so that we can SEE past them, into the office
where Ted stands waiting.
(as they enter)
Mr. Spencer, Mr. Kramer.
(not wasting any time)
So you're the go-getter. All
right, you've got ten minutes.
As the door closes behind them, blocking our view, THE
CAMERA PANS UP to a clock over the door. It reads
MATCH DISSOLVE TO:
92 INT. ACKERMAN'S OFFICE - LATE AFTERNOON
ON A CLOCK--which now reads five twenty-two. THE CAMERA
PULLS BACK TO REVEAL Spencer, now sitting in Ackerman's
chair, his feet on Ackerman's desk. Ted has just
finished his pitch.
(sipping his drink)
That's very interesting, Mr.
Kramer. I must say, it's very
interesting. Let me think about
it. I'll let Jack...
...know and he'll get in touch
Spencer gets to his feet, starts to retrieve his coat.
ON TED--as he decides to take a gamble.
Excuse me, I believe you said
I had ten minutes.
ON SPENCER--almost at the door, looking around.
ON TED--checking his watch.
That means I've got two minutes
left. I understand you're paying
(a deep breath, then
a real huckster)
All right, I'll tell you what
I'm gonna do--I'll take the job
at twenty-two-five. Now, that's
twenty-five hundred less than
you're offering. The only thing
is, you have to say yes right
now. Not tomorrow. Not next
week. Not after the holidays.
It's worth it to me for a
yes right now and I'll take
twenty-five hundred less.
There is a long beat of silence as Spencer and Ackerman
look at one another. They were clearly not prepared
Today only. One day only.
Mr. Kramer, can we talk privately
for a moment?
93 OUTER OFFICE - LATE AFTERNOON
ON TED--as he steps out of Ackerman's office, sits down.
Now, all of the fear, all of the anxiety that he has
been fighting down comes welling up. What if he pushed
too hard? What will he do if he doesn't get a job?
If Ted Kramer could fall to his knees and pray, he
CROSS-CUT WITH THE CHRISTMAS PARTY-- that swirls around
him. We notice in particular, one very pretty young
woman flirting with a number of men. She is wearing
a dress with straps, one of them has broken and she
has patched it with a piece of masking tape.
Finally the door to Ackerman's office opens and he
Ted jumps to his feet, starts into the office.
94 INT. ACKERMAN'S OFFICE - LATE AFTERNOON
ON SPENCER--He looks at Ted carefully for a long time,
Welcome aboard, Mr. Kramer.
C.U. TED--There is an instant of relief, then, with
Well, gentlemen, I'm pleased
to be with you.
ANOTHER ANGLE--as they shake hands, say their good-
byes. THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH TED as he makes his way
through the Christmas party that is still going strong.
Then, suddenly, as he passes the very pretty woman we
noticed earlier, he turns and kisses her.
QUICK CUTS--as a look passes between them, a sudden
chemistry, something we have not seen in Ted before.
(steps back from
95 EXT. STREET - DAY
ON A BUS--as it pulls to a stop, the doors open and,
along with the usual flood of mothers and children we
SEE Ted and Billy. THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH THEM as they
walk to school. Billy is talking a mile a minute,
describing in minute detail the plot of an episode of
"I Dream of Jeannie." Ted listens intently, then,
almost involuntarily, he glances over his shoulder in
the direction of the Coffee Shop.
HIS P.O.V.: There, standing in the window, watching,
ON TED AND BILLY--as they continue to walk. Ted's
eyes remain on Joanna. As they reach the door to the
school, Ted looks at his son.
You're a terrific kid, Billy
He stands watching as Billy rushes off into the building.
Then he turns back and once again looks in the direction
of the Coffee Shop.
HIS P.O.V.: This time there is no one there.
96 EXT. KRAMER APT. BLDG. - NIGHT
ESTABLISHING SHOT--HOLD FOR A BEAT as we HEAR:
O.S. Sound: a telephone ringing. Then, a moment later:
Ted? John Shaunessy here. I
just got a call from your wife's
lawyer. She wants to see the
97 INT. KITCHEN, KRAMER APT. - NIGHT
Ted Kramer, the phone cradled against his ear is clean-
ing up the remains of one of Billy's attempts to make
the perfect peanut butter sandwich.
CLOSE ON TED--horrified.
What?! She wants what?!
(he's been through
this a million times)
She's the mother. That means
she's within her legal rights.
John, what if she kidnaps him.
I've heard all these--
(the patience of a
Look, Ted, I don't honestly
think she would go to the trouble
of suing you for custody of
the child if she was planning
on kidnapping him.
I don't know, John...I mean,
to be brutally honest, I'm not
so sure what kind of mental shape
Joanna's in right now. Y'know
she admitted she was seeing
(a flicker of
You ever see her talk to the
Then you don't have a choice.
Have Billy at the Seventy-
Fifth Street entrance to Central
Park, Saturday at ten.
98 EXT. FIFTH AVE. SIDE OF CENTRAL PARK - DAY
ON TED AND BILLY, TRACKING IN FRONT OF THEM as they walk
along the Central Park side of Fifth Ave. From their
attitude it is clear that each of them, for their own
reasons, is very nervous.
TED'S P.O.V., TRACKING FORWARD: about half a block
away Joanna paces back and forth. She hasn't seen them
and it is clear that she is as nervous as they are.
ANOTHER ANGLE ON TED AND BILLY--Ted stops, turns to
Billy and gives him a last-minute check. Then, spotting
a smudge he takes his handkerchief, spits on it and
wipes the child's chin. Now satisfied, he takes Billy's
hand and they continue. Suddenly:
C.U. BILLY--as he spots his mother.
QUICK CUT JOANNA--as she turns, spots Billy, starts
ON BILLY, TRACKING WITH HIM--as he lets go of Ted's
hand and starts to run flat out toward his mother.
She kneels, opens her arms wide for him and he goes
barreling into her, almost knocking her down from the
laughter and tears)
Oh, Billy...Oh my Billy...Oh
WIDER SHOT--Joanna gets to her feet and takes Billy's
(to Ted, but looking
I'll have him back at six.
And they start off in the opposite direction.
ON TED--realizing that Billy has not said good-bye, has
not looked at him once.
JUMP CUT TO:
WIDER SHOT--Ted stands helpless, watching them leave.
JUMP CUT TO:
WIDER SHOT--Ted, now almost lost from view on the
crowded street, still hasn't moved.
FADE TO BLACK.
100 WIDE SHOT--Ted and Phyllis, getting ready to go to bed.
They look like a couple that has been married at least
five years. Ted is busy talking as he takes off his
tie, jacket and starts to unbutton his shirt. Phyllis
is getting undressed also, hanging things in the closet,
putting things away in drawers. But as Ted continues
to talk, she watches him apprehensively, it is clear
that something is wrong.
(he has become an
So, naturally, you assume that
since Joanna left, that would
be a compelling point against
But it doesn't work that way.
A major decision was handed
down by the Appellate Court in
1969--in the case of Haskins
Now in Haskins vs. Haskins the
court ruled in favor of the
mother, thus establishing a
precedent for awarding the child
to the mother even though she
previously abandoned the baby.
Kramer...There's something I
ought to tell you.
I've been offered a job in
Washington with H.E.W.
CLOSE ON TED--lie stops what he is doing, turns to her.
(a deep breath)
I'm going to take it.
REACTION, TED--He sits down on the bed.
It's a very good job--too good
to pass up. I'll be handling
funding for the whole...
(she stops, sits
beside him on
(she means love)
..."like" you a lot. And you...
(she means love)
..."like" me, okay? Maybe if it
was a year from now, maybe things
would be different...
But it's not a year from now,
She shakes her head, then, reaches out and touches him.
I'll miss you, Kramer...
101 INT. KRAMER APT. - DAY
ON THE FRONT DOOR-- It is open and standing in the door-
way is an attractive woman, a bit overweight and very
serious. This is DR. ALVAREZ, the court-appointed
I'm Dr. Alvarez, Judge Atkins
asked me to look in on your son
and prepare an evaluation sheet.
Oh, yes. Won't you come in.
Dr. Alvarez enters the apartment. Ted helps her off
with her coat.
Where is the child?
He's in his room, playing.
Good. I'll see him in there.
As Ted carries her coat to the closet, Dr. Alvarez
walks into the living room, looks around.
Mr. Kramer, do you ever have sex
in here with anyone?
Doctor, I attempt to conduct my
social life discreetly. At the
moment I am seeing no one.
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THEM
Does that distress you?
The prospect of losing my child.
(makes some notes, then:)
Very well, I'd like to see him if
They cross to the door of Billy's room. Ted opens it.
102 INT. BILLY'S ROOM - DAY
THEIR P.O.V.: The room is a mess, blocks are stacked
everywhere. Billy sits in the middle playing with his
ON TED AND DR. ALVAREZ--They stand in the doorway.
Billy. This is Dr. Alvarez.
She would like to talk to you.
(looking up from
There is an awkward pause as Ted remains in the doorway.
I'd like to talk to Billy privately.
Reluctantly, Ted leaves, closing the door behind him.
103 THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH HIM as he crosses the living
room to the couch where he has a stack of legal books
and a number of note pads spread out. He is obviously
continuing his legal education. THROUGH OUT THE
FOLLOWING, THE CAMERA REMAINS ON HIS FACE.
What do you have here, Billy?
Have you ever been to Detroit?
No. But I've been to Brooklyn.
I see you have people there.
What are their names?
That's Kim...and this one's
Thelma and that's Mrs. Willewska
and this is daddy and that's
Batman and over there is Robin.
What about your mommy?
Oh, sure. Here, this can be
Do you like to be with your mommy?
Ted by now has given up all pretense of working. He
wags his pencil in the direction of the door.
(the defense attorney)
Objection. You're leading the
What do you like best about her?
Lunch in a restaurant.
What do you like best about your
Tell me, does your daddy ever hit
REACTION, TED--eyes wide. He starts to get up.
Sure. Lots of times.
This brings Ted all the way to his feet. He starts
across the living room headed for the door to Billy's
When does he hit you?
Ted has his hand on the doorknob, about to enter.
He hits me on the planet Kriptarium,
when I steal the buried treasure
from the famous peanut butter
In real life when does he hit you?
My daddy doesn't hit me, silly.
Why would my daddy hit me?
104 EXT. MODERN OFFICE BUILDING, MIDTOWN - DAY
WIDE SHOT--It is a Saturday afternoon. HOLD FOR A
BEAT as we SEE Ted Kramer and Billy approaching. Billy
is talking a mile a minute. Ted listens intently,
absorbed in the boy's description. As they turn into
the entrance of the office building:
105 INT. CORRIDOR, J. WALTER THOMPSON - DAY
WIDE SHOT--A long corridor with desks for secretaries
lined up next to doors leading to smaller individual
offices. As they approach a door in the foreground
that bears a small sign reading, "Ted Kramer":
who is still in the
middle of his story)
See. That's my name.
(looking at the sign)
It's my name too.
As he opens the door:
106 INT. TED KRAMER'S OFFICE - DAY
It is a pleasant enough office, but nothing spectacular,
windows that look out over Fifty-seventh Street, simple
Formica furniture, that sort of thing.
ON THE DOOR--as they enter.
(he stops dead in
his tracks at the
sight of the office)
You like it?
Billy crosses to the window, presses his nose to the
glass, looks out.
Wow! Is this really where you
Ted nods, walks over to the desk and begins collecting
paperwork to do over the weekend. As he does, Billy
goes through the office, sitting in every chair,
looking in every drawer.
Is this really your desk?
Is that really your chair?
Wow! That's neat. Can I sit
Billy plops himself down in Ted's chair, swivels
Did mommy ever see this?
No, she never did.
Are you going to get remarried?
I don't know. I hadn't thought
much about it.
Are you going to remarried
(shaking his head)
CLOSE ON BILLY--There is a long pause, then:
Will you and mommy get remarried?
Ted stops what he is doing, looks across at Billy:
No, son. Daddy and mommy will
never get remarried.
(looking around Ted's
Boy, I bet you if mommy ever
saw this she'd remarried you.
108 INT. BEDROOM - VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING
CLOSE ON AN ALARM CLOCK THAT SITS ON A NIGHTSTAND--As
it rings, THE CAMERA PANS ACROSS and we SEE Joanna
sitting in bed wide awake, smoking. As she puts out
the cigarette she has been smoking and starts to get
out of bed,
109 INT. KITCHEN, TED KRAMER'S APT. - EARLY MORNING
ON TED--who stands with a cup of coffee in his hands,
looking out the window, but not seeing anything. HOLD
FOR A BEAT, then he checks his watch and starts for
110 INT. JOANNA'S BEDROOM - MORNING
ON: JOANNA--as she selects a very conservative suit from
111 INT. BILLY KRAMER'S BEDROOM - MORNING
WIDE SHOT--as Ted, now fully dressed, wearing a dark
blue suit, white shirt, conservative tie, leans over
Billy and wakes him.
112 INT. COFFEE SHOP - MORNING
Joanna sits across from her lawyer as he talks to her,
intently, giving her last-minute instructions.
113 EXT. STREET - MORNING
ON TED KRAMER--taking Billy to school. They stop at the
entrance, Ted kisses his son good-bye and stands for
a moment watching as the boy runs into the building.
114 EXT. COURTHOUSE - DAY
WIDE SHOT--It is a bleak January morning, the streets
around the courthouse are mobbed with people on their
way to work. We SEE Ted Kramer, a tiny figure among
hundreds, coming out of the subway. He crosses the
street and starts up the steps of the large and
115 INT. COURTHOUSE - DAY
WIDE SHOT--as Ted gets off the elevator and starts
down the corridor, toward the courtroom. In the F.G.,
--standing by the door of the courtroom itself is John
Shaunessy, he greets Ted, they shake hands and talk
together for a moment. Then, as they enter the
116 INT. COURTROOM
ON THE DOOR--as Ted enters, looks around. Mrs. Willewska
sits in one of the back rows, wearing her best Easter
hat. Ted pauses by her, thanks her for coming.
Several rows in front of her is Thelma. Ted crosses
to her, they talk quietly between themselves for a few
moments. Then Ted moves on to a table at the front of
the room where John Shaunessy waits.
ON THE DOORS AT THE BACK OF THE COURTROOM--as they swing
open and Joanna, along with her lawyer, a MR. GRESSEN.
THE CAMERA PANS WITH THEM as they walk to the front of
the room and take their seats at the table opposite Ted
and his lawyer.
Oyez, oyez...The third Circuit
Court of the State of New York,
Judge Atkins presiding is now in
session. All rise...
WIDE SHOT--as the judge enters, takes his seat.
Opening business of the court.
WIDE SHOT--as Gressen (Joanna's lawyer) gets to his feet.
Your honor. As our first witness
I would like to call Joanna Kramer.
TWO SHOT, TED AND SHAUNESSY--The lawyer leans across
Real direct. Motherhood...
They're going right for the
WIDE SHOT--as Joanna gets to her feet, crosses to the
witness stand and is sworn in.
Note: Throughout the following, we continually CROSS-
CUT to Ted Kramer, leaning forward, listening intently.
It becomes evident that, in spite of himself, there are
moments he feels great compassion for Joanna.
Now then, Mrs. Kramer, would
you tell the court how long you
And would you describe those
years as happy?
The first couple, yes, but after
that it became increasingly
Mrs. Kramer, did you ever work
in a job while you were married
to your ex-husband?
No, I did not.
Did you wish to?
Yes. I tried to talk to Ted--
my ex-husband--about it, but he
wouldn't listen. He refuses to
discuss it in any serious way.
I remember one time he said I
probably couldn't get a job that
would pay enough to hire a baby-
sitter for Billy.
Tell me, Mrs. Kramer, are you
employed at the present time?
Yes, I work for Jantzen as a
And what is your present salary?
I make thirty-one thousand
dollars a year.
Mrs. Kramer, do you love your
Yes. Very much.
And yet you chose to leave him?
There is a long pause, then:
with great thought)
Yes...Look, during the last
five years we were married, I
had...I was getting more and
more...unhappy, more and more
frustrated. I needed to talk to
somebody. I needed to find out if
it was me, if I was going crazy
or what. But every time I
turned to Ted--my ex-husband,
he couldn't handle it. He
became very...I don't know,
very threatened. I mean, when-
ever I would bring up anything
he would act like it was some kind
of personal attack. Anyway, we
became more and more separate
...more and more isolated from
one another. Finally, I had no
other choice, I had to leave.
And because of my ex-husband's
attitude--his unwillingness to
deal with my feelings, I had
come to have almost no self-
At the time I left, I sincerely
believed that there was something
wrong with me--that my son would
be better off without me. It
was only when I got to California
and started into therapy I began
to realize I wasn't a terrible
person. And that just because
I needed some creative and
emotional outlet other than my
child, that didn't make me unfit
to be a mother.
(to the judge)
Your honor, I would like to place
in evidence a report on Mrs.
Kramer's therapy by her therapist,
Dr. Elinore Freedman of La Jolla,
And with that he hands both the judge and Shaunessy a
thick sheaf of papers. Then, turning his attention back
Mr. Kramer, why did you set up
residence in New York?
Because my son is here. And his
father is here. As a mother,
I don't want my child to be
separated from his father.
Mrs. Kramer, can you tell the
court why you are asking for
There is a pause, then:
Because he's my child...Because
I love him. I know I left my
son, I know that's a terrible
thing to do. Believe me, I
have to live with that every
day of my life. But just because
I'm a woman, don't I have a right
to the same hopes and dreams as a
man? Don't I have a right to a
life of my own? Is that so awful?
Is my pain any less just because
I'm a woman? Are my feelings
any cheaper? I left my child--
I know there is no excuse for
that. But since then, I have
gotten help. I have worked hard
to become a whole human being.
I don't think I should be punished
for that. I don't think my son
should be punished for that.
Billy's only six. He needs me.
I'm not saying he doesn't need
his father, but he needs me
more. I'm his mother.
There is a beat of silence, then:
Thank you, Mrs. Kramer. I have
no further questions.
ON SHAUNESSY--as he stands, collects his papers from
the table and, taking his own sweet time, crosses to
Now then, Mrs. Kramer, you said
you were married seven years.
Is that correct?
In all that time did your husband
ever strike you or abuse you
physically in any way.
Did your husband strike or
physically abuse his child in
Would you describe your husband
as an alcoholic?
A heavy drinker?
Was he unfaithful?
Did he ever fail to provide for
Well, I can certainly understand
why you left him.
(switching his line of
How long do you plan to live in
New York, Mrs. Kramer?
Note: During the early part of Shaunessy's cross-
examination, Joanna has been very forthright, very sure
of herself. Now, as he starts getting tougher, she
begins to falter.
(smiles, like a
Mrs. Kramer, how many boy friends
have you had--permanently?
ON JOANNA--Her head snaps back as though she's been hit.
I don't recall.
How many lovers have you had--
(looks toward Gressen
I don't recall.
More than three, less than thirty-
ON GRESSEN--He is again on his feet, outraged.
Overruled. The witness will
(almost a whisper)
Somewhere in between.
Do you have a lover now?
(to the judge)
Your honor, I would request a
direct answer to a direct
question. Does she have a
I'll allow that. The witness
will answer please.
(in a whisper)
(by now she is be-
I...I don't know...
Then, we don't really know, do
we, when you say "permanently"
if you're planning to remain in
New York, or even to keep the
child for that matter, since
you've never really done anything
in your life that was continuing,
stable, that could be regarded
ON THE PETITIONER'S TABLE--Gressen jumps to his feet.
Objection! I must ask that the
counsel be prevented from harassing
(a new attack)
Mrs. Kramer, how can you consider
yourself a fit mother when you
have been a failure at virtually
every relationship you have
undertaken as an adult?
(red in the face)
I'll ask it another way. What was
the longest personal relationship
you have had in your life--other
than parents and girlfriends?
Ah...I guess I'd have to say...
with my child.
Whom you've seen twice in a year?
Mrs. Kramer, your ex-husband,
wasn't he the longest personal
relationship in your life?
Would you speak up, Mrs. Kramer?
I couldn't hear you.
How long was that?
We were married two years before
the baby. And then four very
So, you were a failure at the
longest, most important
relationship in your life.
I was not a failure.
Oh? What do you call it then
--a success? The marriage ended
(so angry she
forgets her cool)
I consider it less my failure
(seizes on this)
Congratulations, Mrs. Kramer.
You have just rewritten matrimonial
law. You were both divorced,
(on his feet)
(to the judge)
Your honor, I'd like to ask
what this model of stability
and respectability has ever
Mrs. Kramer, were you a failure
at the longest, most important
personal relationship in your life?
CLOSE ON JOANNA--who sits silently.
Please answer the question,
It did not succeed.
Not it...Not it, Mrs. Kramer--
you. Were you a failure at the
most important personal relation-
ship of your life?
CLOSER IN ON JOANNA--Silence.
EXTREME CLOSE UP JOANNA
WIDE SHOT--Shaunessy smiles, turns his back on Joanna
and walks back toward the respondent's table.
No further questions.
CLOSER IN ON THE TABLE--as Shaunessy sits down next to
in a whisper)
Jesus Christ. Did you have to
be so rough on her?
Do you want the kid or don't you?
ON JOANNA--shaken, she gets down from the witness stand,
crosses to the petitioner's table without looking at
Ted. She sits, leans across to her lawyer and whispers
something in his ear. As he nods,
116A INT. COURTROOM, LATER IN THE DAY
ON JIM O'CONNOR--who sits in the witness stand. At the
moment he is being examined by Gressen.
Now then, Mr. O'Connor, how long
did Ted Kramer work for you?
Eight, almost nine years.
And did you have a close personal
(in a whisper)
And how did you find his work?
It was good. He was a hard worker,
a lot of drive, a real hustler.
And yet you fired him.
There is a long pause.
Ted was a good worker. But, ah...
... after his wife left him and he
was taking care of the kid on his
own, things started to change.
Look, I know he had problems, I
understand that. I've got problems,
everybody's got problems. But I've
got a shop to run, I can't let that
kind of thing get in the way...
I guess I felt that Ted was letting
his duties at home interfere with
his responsibilities in the office.
Thank you. I have no further
Shaunessy stands up.
Mr. O'Connor, does the agency still
have the Fire and Ice account?
Mr. O'Connor, can you tell me where
you are employed at the moment?
At the moment I am unemployed.
ON THE JUDGE
If the petitioner has no further
witnesses, we will hear the
respondent tomorrow morning at
117 INT. LIVING ROOM, KRAMER APT. - NIGHT
WIDE SHOT--Ted sits at the dining table poring over
law books, writing copious notes on a legal pad. Billy
sits across from him drawing in a pad with magic markers.
HOLD FOR A BEAT as Billy looks up at his father. It is
clear that something is bothering him.
Mom--I mean, dad?
(not looking up)
What did you do when you were
in his books)
I guess about the same kind of
things you do.
Did you watch "I Dream of Jeannie?"
Uh, uh...We didn't have television
ON BILLY--eyes wide. He finds this hard to believe.
You didn't have T.V.?
ON TED--He looks up for the first time, smiles.
Nope. It hadn't been invented yet.
He starts to go back to work.
(this is serious
Was there apple juice when you
Yeah, there was apple juice.
Was there Burger King?
Uh, uh. There was no such a thing
as Burger King.
What else wasn't there?
ON TED--He takes a long look at his son, then closes the
law book, puts his notes away.
Well, let's see...There wasn't
McDonald's. And there wasn't
astronauts...And there wasn't
frozen yogurt. And there wasn't...
As he continues on about what wasn't, we
FADE TO BLACK:
118 EXT. COURTHOUSE - DAY
119 INT. COURTROOM - DAY
ON THELMA--She sits in the witness stand being examined
by Shaunessy. From her attitude it is clear that she
is very wrought up, that all of this is taking a heavy
emotional toll on her.
Mrs. Phillips, how long have you
known Ted Kramer?
Six years. Ever since Ted and
Joanna moved into the building.
How often do you see Mr. Kramer
and his son?
(to the judge, by
way of explanation)
Charley, my husband, and I are
...divorced and Kim, that's our
daughter is about Billy's age
and the children play together
a lot. So, I guess we see each
three or four times a week.
Can you describe the relationship
between Mr. Kramer and his son?
It's beautiful. It's just beautiful.
They have a beautiful relationship.
ON GRESSEN--getting wearily to his feet.
Objection, your honor. The answer
is, to be generous, very vague.
Can you recall any particular
incident that relates to Mr.
Kramer's care of his child?
(fighting a losing
battle with her
Ted--Mr. Kramer, spends a great
deal of time with his child. I
don't just mean hours, I mean
good time, involved time. He
reads to Billy. They play together.
They talk all the time...
He is a very...kind man...a very
...devoted father, and...and...
(she turns to Joanna)
And Joanna if you ever saw them
together...there wouldn't be a
trial at all...
(she breaks down,
Oh, shit...I'm sorry...I'm sorry...
Note: during this we cross-cut to Joanna, who sits,
staring at her friend, shaken.
No further questions. Thank you
up from his notes)
Thelma leaves the stand and walks back to her seat.
120 INT. COURTROOM - DAY
ON TED KRAMER--sitting in the witness stand.
Mr. Kramer, would you tell the
court exactly why you want to
retain custody of your child.
(to the judge,
my ex-wife--when she was talking
before about how unhappy she was
during our marriage...Well, I
guess most of what she said was
probably true. There were a lot
of things I didn't understand--
a lot of things I would do different
if I could. Just like I guess
there are a lot of things Joanna
wishes she could change...But we
can't. Some things, once they are
done, can't be undone. Joanna says
she loves Billy. I believe she
does. So do I. But the way it
was explained to me, that's not
the issue. The only thing that's
supposed to matter here is what's
best for Billy...When Joanna said
why shouldn't a woman have the
same ambitions as a man, I suppose
she's right. But by the same token
what law is it that says a woman
is a better parent simply by virtue
of her sex? I guess I've had to
think a lot about whatever it is
that makes somebody a good parent:
constancy, patience, understanding
...love. Where is it written that
a man has any less of those qualities
than a woman? Billy has a home with
me, I've tried to make it the best
I could. It's not perfect. I'm
not a perfect parent.
something Joanna said
I don't have enough patience.
Sometimes I forget he's just a
little kid...But I love him...
More than anything in this world
I love him.
Thank you, Mr. Kramer. No further
ON GRESSEN--as he gets up from the petitioner's table
and crosses to the witness stand.
Mr. Kramer, by any chance have
you ever had a woman in your bed
while your child was asleep in
the next room?
So do I.
(switching to another
line of attack)
Mr. Kramer, isn't it true that
you were fired from your last
job not more than six weeks ago?
(not losing his cool)
Technically, the agency lost a
big account and seventy four
people were let go. I was one
You were fired, correct?
Yes, but I'm with J. Walter Thompson
now. I don't think that will happen
Give them time...
Objection, your honor! Counsel
is harassing the witness.
(to the judge,
Your honor, I'm only examining
the man's employment record. He
pretends to fitness when he cannot
hold a job.
ON GRESSEN--He is thoughtful for a moment, like a man
trying to decide whether or not to drop the bomb. Then,
turning back to Ted:
Mr. Kramer, did your child nearly
lose an eye when he was in your
REACTION, TED--stunned. He looks across at Joanna.
QUICK CUT, HIS P.O.V.: Joanna looks away.
Mr. Kramer, did you, or did you
not tell the child's mother that
you were responsible for the
injury that permanently disfigured
Shaunessy is on his feet racing toward the bench.
Objection! Your honor, counsel
is raising a question that is not
germane to these proceedings.
(to the judge)
While the child was in the care
of the witness, he cut his face
badly and is now scarred.
Are you introducing the question
of negligence here, counselor?
Yes, your honor.
I see. Well, you'll have to do
better than that. Do you have
any affidavits to support
I do not, your honor, however--
This is an isolated incident,
counselor, unless you can prove
(back to Ted)
Does the witness deny the injury
(before Ted can
No, counselor, I'm going to over-
rule you on this line of questioning.
Then I have concluded my questions.
ON THE PETITIONER'S TABLE--Joanna sits, still not looking
at Ted. She holds her face, one hand shielding her eyes.
ON THE JUDGE--as he makes his closing statement.
121 INT. MAIN LOBBY, COURTHOUSE - DAY
WIDE SHOT--Shaunessy and Ted stand talking, reviewing
the case. Then the two men shake hands, the lawyer waves
goodbye, turns and starts back into the building. THE
CAMERA PANS WITH TED as he walks toward the main exit.
122 EXT. MAIN ENTRANCE, COURTHOUSE - DAY
ON TED--as he comes out of the building, starts down
He stops, turns:
HIS P.O.V.: There, standing waiting for him is Joanna.
CLOSE ON TED--his face a mask of cold anger. She crosses
I'm sorry...I just mentioned it
in passing. I never thought he'd
Yeah, well he did, didn't he.
Please, Ted. I never would have
brought it up if I thought--
I'm not interested, Joanna.
WIDE SHOT--as he turns and walks away from her, leaving
her standing, watching him as he disappears.
123 EXT. STREET - DAY
ON TED AND THELMA--It is a bleak winter's day. THE
CAMERA TRACKS WITH THEM as they walk along, Ted carrying
a bag of groceries, Thelma with cleaning. The children
run around them, playing.
You heard anything yet?
(shakes his head)
They walk in silence for several beats, each clearly lost
in their own thoughts. Then:
(this is hard to say)
Ah, Charley and I are...Well,
we're thinking about...I mean,
actually we're sort of talking
about maybe getting back together.
You and Charley?
Hey, that's terrific.
Maybe. I said maybe.
her good fortune)
What I mean is, ah...I don't think
it'll really work out, but Charley
seems to want it, so...
She leaves the sentence unfinished. They walk in silence
for several more steps. Then she takes his hand.
(can't help grinning)
Oh, God...Ted, I am really scared.
They walk in silence for a beat, then Ted looks O.S.,
HIS P.O.V.: The Saturday Father, restless, bored, walking
with his daughter who is also bored. It is clear that they
have nothing to say to one another. He looks around, spots
Ted, waves and starts in his direction.
C.U. TED--He reacts as though he has seen a vision of
his own death.
(to Thelma, urgent)
(to Billy and Kim)
Billy, Kim. Let's go.
WIDE SHOT--as Ted ushers them across the street, away
from the Saturday Father.
124 INT. MEN'S BAR, MIDTOWN - DAY
A crowded, rather posh watering spot. Shaunessy sits
alone at a table for two, a drink in front of him.
REVERSE ON THE DOOR--as Ted enters, spots Shaunessy
and starts in his direction.
CLOSER ON SHAUNESSY'S TABLE--as Ted sits down.
ON SHAUNESSY--as he looks up at Ted, says nothing.
ON TED--He realizes that they have lost.
CROSS-CUTTING BETWEEN THEM
The judge went for motherhood
straight down the line.
I lost him? I lost him?
I can't tell you how sorry I am.
(reading from a
piece of paper)
Ordered, adjudged and decreed
that the petitioner be awarded
custody of the minor child,
effective Monday the 23rd of
January. That the respondent pay
for the maintenance and support
of said child, four hundred
dollars each month. That the
father shall have the following
rights of visitation: every other
weekend, one night each week to
be mutually agreed upon and one
half of the child's vacation period.
(looks up at Ted)
What if I fight it?
(matter of factly)
We can appeal, but I can't guarantee
I'll take my chances.
It's going to cost.
(his mind is made up)
Don't worry. I'll get the money.
There is a beat of silence, then:
I've got to tell you something,
Ted. This time it'll be Billy
that pays. This time I'll have
to put him on the stand.
CLOSE ON TED--as his last hope goes crashing to the
Oh, Christ no...I can't do that.
(he looks up at the
lawyer in despair)
Excuse me...I'm sorry...I just...
That is all Ted can manage to say. He gets to his feet
and rushes for the door.
125 EXT. KRAMER APT. BLDG. - DAY
ON THE ENTRANCE--as Mrs. Willewska comes out. Her eyes
are red from crying. THE CAMERA PANS WITH HER as she
turns up the street on her way to pick up Billy from
school. THE CAMERA HOLDS IN POSITION as she meets
Thelma. They stand talking for a moment, then Thelma
turns and starts to run toward the building.
126 INT. HALLWAY, OUTSIDE TED'S APT. - DAY
ON THE ELEVATOR DOORS--They open and Thelma steps out.
She runs to the door, begins to knock.
There is a beat of silence, then:
Please go away, Thel...I...I
just have to be by myself for
a little while...
Ted, I just heard...
Thelma leans against the door and begins to sob.
I'm so...sorry...Oh, Ted, I'm
FADE TO BLACK:
127 EXT. KRAMER APT. BLDG. - DAY
WIDE SHOT--as Mrs. Willewska brings Billy back from school.
128 INT. KRAMER APT. - DAY
ON THE FRONT DOOR--It opens and Billy and Mrs. Willewska
enter. Billy sees Ted and rushes across to him.
Daddy! You're home early. Did
you get fired again?
(laughing in spite
No, son, I didn't get fired.
I'll tell you what we'll do,
okay? How about if we go to a
Burger King and then we watch a
little T.V. and then we get packed
to go to the country tomorrow.
Just you and me...How 'bout that?
129 EXT. KRAMER APT. BLDG. - NIGHT
ESTABLISHING SHOT--HOLD FOR A BEAT, then:
130 INT. LIVING ROOM, KRAMER APT. - NIGHT
ON TED--He sits at the dining table, a typewriter in
front of him. As he begins to type, hunt and peck
INSERT, HIS P.O.V.: The page in the typewriter. We SEE
and HEAR at the same time.
Joanna...This is by way of intro-
ducing William Kramer. He is a
sweet child, as you will see.
He is allergic to grape juice,
but will more than make up for
the loss in apple juice. He is
also allergic to peanut butter
from the health food store, but
not from the supermarket. Don't
ask me why.
131 EXT. STREET - DAY
ON A CORNER MAILBOX--as Ted mails the letter.
At times, in the night he will
have nightmares, one particular
monster is called The Face. The
Face, as best as I can determine,
looks like a circus clown without
a body, and from what the pedia-
trician says, and what I have
read, may be sexual fear of losing
his penis, or a fear of his own
anger, or just a circus clown he
132 EXT. STREET - DAY
ON THE SAME MAILBOX--as a sack of mail is loaded into
His doctor, by the way, is still
Ed Davies. The Sundafed is for
colds, one tablespoon every four
hours. I will pack it in the blue
133 EXT. JOANNA KRAMER'S APT. BLDG. - DAY
WIDE SHOT--A postman enters the building carrying a bag
His best stories have been Babar
and Winnie the Pooh up to now,
with Batman moving up. His house-
keeper has been Etta Willewska and
she is the main reason for the note.
She is a loving woman, conscientious,
very concerned about Billy and more
important, Billy cares about her.
134 INT. HALLWAY, JOANNA'S APT. BLDG. - DAY
ON A STACK OF MAIL--as it is dropped in front of a door-
way. We SEE that the letter from Ted to Joanna is on
I urge you to retain her. Her
number is 722-8099, and I think
she will take the job if it is
offered. I'm sure other things
will come up. Ask me what you
need to and I guess eventually
135 INT. JOANNA'S APT. - DAY
ON HER--as she finishes reading the letter.
That's all I can think of, except
to repeat what I said before, he's
a terrific kid. I'm grateful for
the time we've had together and I
feel I am a better man because of
136 EXT. BEACH - DAY
It is a clear, cold beautiful winter's day. Ted and
Billy walk along the beach at the edge of the water.
THE CAMERA TRACKS WITH THEM. There are several beats
of silence as Ted tries to think of how to begin.
Billy, sometimes when a mother
and a father are divorced, there's
a discussion about who the child
should live with, the mother or
the father. Now there is a man
who is very wise. He's called a
judge. And a judge has a lot of
experience with divorces and he
decides who it would be best for
the child to live with.
Why does he decide?
Because...Well, that's what he
does. He's a very powerful man.
Like a principal?
Bigger than a principal. The
judge sits in robes in a big chair..
The judge has thought a lot about
us, about you and me and your
mom, and he has decided...
(a deep breath)
...he has decided that it would
be best for you to live with your
mom Joanna in her apartment.
And I'm very lucky. Because even
though you'll live with your mom
Joanna I'll get to see you once a
week for dinner and a couple of
weekends a month.
I don't understand, daddy.
(trying very hard
not to cry)
What don't you understand, pal?
Where will my bed be, where will
At your mom's. She'll have a
bed for you in your own room.
Where will my toys be?
I'll send your toys there and
I'm sure you'll get some new ones.
Who will read me my stories?
Daddy, what if The Face comes when
I'm at mommy's?
Your mom knows all about The Face,
okay? Don't worry, she'll tell
The Face to beat it.
Will you come and say good-night
to me every night?
Suddenly Ted can't stand it any longer.
Look, it's getting cold. Why
don't you go inside where it's
warm. I'll be along in a minute.
Billy hangs back, watching Ted.
Go on, scoot.
The boy turns and runs back along the beach toward the
house. Then, he stops, turns back to look once more
at his father.
HIS P.O.V.: LONG SHOT--Ted stands at the ocean's edge,
his back to CAMERA, weeping.
FADE TO BLACK:
137 EXT. KRAMER APT. BLDG. - DAY
WIDE SHOT--It is early Monday morning.
138 INT. KRAMER KITCHEN - MORNING
ON TED AND BILLY--They stand side by side, like a
surgeon and his assistant. Spread out on the counter
in front of them are the makings of French toast.
The following is done with great efficiency, in
contrast to the first time we saw them go through the
same ritual. They work in silence except for an
occasional command. Each concentrating on this last
moment of closeness, each doing his best to avoid
thinking about Billy's departure. Finally:
ON BILLY--looking at his father, trying to memorize
the older man's face.
Ted turns, sees his son watching him.
(with false gaiety)
Hey? What's doin' with that
bread? Let's see a little hustle
139 INT. LIVING ROOM, KRAMER APT. - MORNING
WIDE SHOT--Billy's bags are packed and stacked neatly
in the living room. Nearby, Billy and his father sit,
Sound-effect: The intercom from the lobby buzzes.
CLOSER IN ON TED AND BILLY--Ted looks at his son, smiles.
The boy smiles back.
This is it, pal.
Billy, fighting back tears, nods.
Sound-effect: The intercom buzzes again.
Ted gets to his feet and starts toward the foyer.
140 INT. FOYER - DAY
As Ted picks up the intercom:
Ted, it's Joanna. Can you meet
me in the lobby?...Alone?
And she hangs up before he can answer.
(to Mrs. Willewska,
in the kitchen)
I'll be back in a minute.
141 INT. LOBBY - DAY
ON THE ELEVATOR DOORS--as they open, Ted steps out,
HIS P.O.V.: The lobby is dark, the only light coming
from the window. Joanna sits off to one side, wearing
sunglasses. She looks up as Ted approaches, a small
smile on her face.
Okay, I'm here. Now why did you--
Ted, do you love him?
Goddamnit, Joanna. What the--
Ted, do you love him?
I love him too...I don't think
I ever knew how much until now.
There is a long pause as she looks at Ted, unable to
(a deep breath, then:)
Ted, when we got married it was
because I was twenty-seven years
old and I thought I should get
married and...when I had Billy
it was because I thought I should
have a baby...and I guess all I
did was mess up my life and your
Joanna, what the hell is--
Please...Please don't stop me.
This is the hardest thing I've
ever had to do..
ON TED--struck by the urgency in her voice.
After I left...when I was in
California, I began to think,
what kind of mother was I that
I could walk out on my own child.
It got to where I couldn't tell
anybody about Billy--I couldn't
stand that look in their faces
when I said he wasn't living with
me. Finally it seemed like the
most important thing in the world
to come back here and prove to
Billy and to me and to the world
how much I loved him...And I did
...And I won. Only...it was just
(she begins to
...Sitting in that courtroom.
Hearing everything you did,
everything you went through...
Something happened. I guess it
doesn't matter how much I love
him, or how much you love him.
I guess it's like you said, the
only thing that counts is what's
best for Billy. I don't know,
maybe that's all love is anyway...
Ted, I think Billy should stay
(she reaches out,
takes his hand)
He's already got one mother, he
doesn't need two...He's yours...
(her last ounce of
I won't fight you for him any more.
Oh, God...Oh, my God...
Only can I still see him?
No more waiting in Coffee Shops
Joanna's last ounce of reserve crumbles, she begins to
sob. Ted puts his arms around her and holds her. They
do not kiss. Then, after a few moments she steps back.
Okay...I think I'll go talk to
my son now.
(wiping her eyes)
How do I look?
They step into the elevator and, as the doors close,
blocking them from view, we
142 EXT. STREET - DAY
ON TED AND BILLY, TRACKING JUST IN FRONT OF THEM--as
they walk to the park. They are deep in conversation,
although we are too far away to bear what they are
saying. HOLD ON THEM and, as they reach the entrance
to the park, Billy first, then Ted begin to run, over-
whelmed with the sheer joy of being alive, of being
together. As they continue to run, THE CAMERA PULLS BACK
AND UP AND WE SEE that they are only two among thousands
of parents and children in Central Park on a sunny after-
noon. THE CAMERA CONTINUES TO PULL BACK until they are
lost from view and it is
Based on the novel by Avery Corman.
Revised Third Draft. July 14, 1978.