Stanley Kramer was an editor and writer by the mid-'30s, and in the late '40s formed an independent production company, Screen Plays Inc. (which he'd bring into the fold of Columbia in 1951). Into the mid-'50s he produced a series of powerful and provocative films, most notably with directors Mark Robson (Champion , Home of the Brave ) and Fred Zinnemann (The Men , High Noon ). Many of his pictures dealt with long-ignored social issues, a commitment Kramer held to when he began directing (after helming two minor films he'd hoped would make some needed profits: the sudsy hospital drama Not as a Stranger  and the period war tale The Pride and the Passion ). In the late '50s, Kramer began making the films for which he's best known, starting with The Defiant Ones (1958), a look at American racism, and On the Beach (1959), a prediction of life after a nuclear war. In the '60s he began an association with actor Spencer Tracy, making two landmark courtroom films, Inherit the Wind (1960) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), and two comedies, the slapstick epic It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and Tracy's last film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? (1967), a charming romantic comedy of interracial love. Although critics typed Kramer as a message-monger, the public made these comedies his biggest box office hits. He went on to do some of his best work in the '70s with Bless the Beasts and Children (1971), Oklahoma Crude (1973), and The Runner Stumbles (1979), but the public stayed away.