transcriptions of clips from the film
Kramer vs. Kramer
One Two Three Four
Five Six Seven Eight
Nine Ten Eleven Twelve
Thirteen Fourteen Fifteen
Sixteen Seventeen Eighteen
Nineteen Twenty Twenty-one
Twenty-two Twenty Three
Ted: Joanna, I'm home. Hi, I forgot my keys. I just gotta call the office before they go. Jo, you're gonna be real proud of me. I got good news. (Sings: Da, da, dee, dee, dee...)
Ted: Yeah, one sec, lemme just do this. (Dials and sings: Da, da, dee, dee, dee...). You know Jack Edridge over in accounting? He committed suicide. Yeah, hi, Ted Kramer. Listen, I got to get those photos from the retoucher by tomorrow morning, OK?
Joanna: I'm leaving you!
Ted: Honey, please. I can't, I can't hear. What? Okay, you too. Thanks a lot! See you tomorrow. You guys eat?
Joanna: Ted, I'm leaving you. Ted. Keys. Here are my keys. Here is my American Express card. Here's my Bloomingdale's credit card. Here's my checkbook. I've taken two thousand dollars out of our saving account, because that's what I had in bank when we first got married.
Ted: What's this? Some kind of joke?
Joanna: Here's the cleaning. Here's the laundry. Ticket, you can pick up both of them up on Saturday. You! You have to pick them up on Saturday.
Ted: Jo, you want to tell me what's the matter?
Joanna: I paid the rent, I paid the con-ad bill...
Joanna: and I paid the, uh, phone bill so...
Ted: Oh, you really pick your times to... (pause, sardonic laugh)...well, I'm sorry that, uh, I was late but I was busy making a living, all right? Come on, okay? Can we stop now?
Joanna: So! That's everything.
Ted: Hey! Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey hey, enough, enough! All right? What're you doing? Where're you going? Come on, just tell me what I did. That's all. Just tell me what I did that's so terrible.
Joanna: It's not you, it's not you...
Ted: Then what is it?
Joanna: It's me. It's my fault. You just married the wrong person, that's all. I can't take it, I can't take it!
Ted: Okay, fine, fine, let's just go inside.
Joanna: I can't. I've tried. I swear!
Ted: Joanna, please, now. Just...I'm sorry.
Joanna: Now, don't you, don't, don't make me go in there, please, please, don't make me go in there, don't make me go in there!
Ted: Sh, sh, sh, sh, sh, sh...I just want to, I just want to, I just, we'll just talk!
Joanna: If you do, I swear, one day, next week, maybe next year, I don't know, I'll go right out the window.
Ted: Oh, please now, come on now...What about Billy?
Joanna: I'm not taking him with me. I'm no good for him. I'm terrible with him. I have no patience. He's better off without me.
Ted: Joanna, please.
Joanna: And I don't love you anymore.
Ted: Where're you going?
Joanna: I don't know.
Ted: (on phone) Hi, Margaret, this is Ted. Is my wife there?...Yeah, yeah...Joanna come in?...Oh, I thought she might have come in. We had a little, uh, fight a couple hours ago. I thought she might have stopped by. If she c..., if she comes, then tell her to come up or just give me a ring, uh, you know...well, I wouldn't worry about it, uh, she didn't take her suitcase, I don't think she's gonna get very far...Yeah, I got a lot of work to do; if she comes in, tell her to give me a ring. Thanks a lot. (hangs up)
Ted: You know what, Joanna? That's the most insensitive thing you've...oh, hi Margaret.
Margaret: She packed her suitcase?
Ted: Look, it's nothing serious, really. I appreciate your concern, but I really...
Margaret: Did she tell you where she's going? She must have said something to you.
Ted: Look, you tell me!
Margaret: How would I know? I wasn't here!
Ted: Well, obviously my wife and you have had numerous conversations about my shortcomings which I have not been privy to, and I would love to sit here and talk to you, but somebody has to bring home the bacon, and I have a major presentation in the morning, and I just got to get my work done, so please allow me to, to do it...
Margaret: Ted, you don't seem to realize. We have a serious problem.
Ted: Go on, Margaret! Me! I got the problem. All you gotta do is (pft!) go out the door (pft!), go downstairs and go back to bed!
Margaret: Ted, the fact is Joanna...
Ted: Look, the fact is that for the last six months, I've been spitting blood to get this agency one of the biggest accounts it's ever had, and at five o'clock this afternoon we got the account! At eight o'clock I'm walking home with the vice president who tells me I'm, I'm going to be the next creative partner of this department! I come through this door, to share with my wife what, what was going to be one of the five best days in my life. And she looks at me, cool as a cucumber, tells me she doesn't want to live with me anymore! Can't you understand what she's done to me?
Margaret: Yeah...she loused up one of the five best days of your life!
Ted: You're terrific, boy, you're (claps hands)...thanks very much, really. Sisterhood. I wanna thank you for comin' up here and, uh, cheering me up, but you...
Margaret: I didn't come up here to cheer you up. I came up because I'm concerned about Joanna.
Ted: Yeah, maybe you can be concerned in the privacy of your own apartment, OK? It just occurs to me that Joanna and I never had any problem till you and Charlie split up.
Margaret: Oh, ho, ho, ho! I don't believe you.
Ted: Do me a favor, just tell me the truth, OK? Did, did, did, did you set my wife up to this?
Margaret: No, I did not put Joanna up to this.
Ted: Give her a little pep talk?
Margaret: No, I did not give her any pep talk. Joanna and I talk a great deal, yes, and Joanna's a very, very unhappy woman. And you may not want to hear this, but it took a lot of courage for her to walk out of here!
Ted: Mm-hmm. How much courage does it take to walk out on your kid?
Ted: Well, I'll tell you she's never gone this far before, but in the past, uh, you know, I've known when she's upset, because, uh, you know, she gets very quiet. And, uh, the, our pattern has been that I've always said, "Honey, what's the matter? Is something bothering you?", you know, and she, she'll kinda sit on it. But I must admit in the last two, three weeks, maybe couple of months, ever since we've been, you know, going crazy with this account, I've been remiss. And you know, I just didn't look at the... writing on the wall. So, you know, she's, kind of...I think what she did last night was a way of making me stop, look, and listen, and say, "Hey! You know, I'm just as important as your work," and...
Jim: Teddy...is there...a...nother guy?
Ted: I don't think so, I mean, you know, that's, she's not the type. She's got this friend, Margaret, downstairs, you know, and they 'Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, DA!' You know, women's lib, and, uh, I think they may have cooked this up, I, who knows? You know what I mean? I mean, it worked! (both laugh uncomfortably and insincerely) I could go crazy! (ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...)
Jim: Look, not to worry! She'll be back. (ha, ha, ha, ha...)
Ted: I didn't know it would happen to me!
Jim: Don't let it get you down, Kid.
Ted: No, I know she'll be back. Listen, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm terrific. Really.
Jim: (sighs) You do have a problem, Ted.
Ted: Yeah, what's that?
Jim: What are you gonna do about Billy?
Ted: Well...this just happened last night, you know; I'm sure, uh, when Joanna comes back, you know...
Jim: Okay, it's not my business. I'll butt out.
Ted: No, no, no, no, listen, I'm, I, uh, I wanna hear your thoughts. Uh...I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me.
Jim: All right. It may sound a little rough. But, uh (taps twice), I think you ought to send Billy away to, stay with relatives for a while.
Ted: Hmm.You mean until, uh, Joanna comes back.
Jim: Suppose Joanna doesn't come back?
Ted: Gee, I don't know, um...
Jim: Ted, listen to me. I just told the boys upstairs that you were handling the Mid-Atlantic Airlines account. I told 'em you're my main man, you know? Now, a gig like that just doesn't come along once every five, six years. There's guys in this agency are eating their hearts out cause I gave that spot to you. This is important. Don't blow this! I gotta depend on you. I gotta count on you for 110%, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. I gotta have that, Ted. I mean, I can't be concerned about you worrying about a kid with a runny nose.
Ted: First of all, you can count on me 25 hours a day, and you can count on me 8 days a week. Because I'm not a loser, Jim. You know that. And I've never let anything at home, you know, come into the office. You've asked me to unload on you, and that takes place right here in this office. When I go outside (claps his hands), I'm on top of it, and I want you to know that. I'm a survivor, OK? You've given me a shot here; I'm not gonna l..., I'm not gonna let anything blow it. OK? Look, let's have a drink later. Really, I'm all right. I gotta...I gotta blow smoke up Airwick's ass, you know, like 11:00. I'm all right, all right? You don't worry. Thank you. I love you, you Bastard!
Ted: So, did you have a, djya have a, lot of fun?
Billy: You're late.
Ted: I'm not that late, Kid. I'm only 20 minutes.
Billy: Wanna make a bet?
Billy: All the mothers were there before you.
Ted: Why you making such a big deal of it? Hey, there was a lot of traffic. I mean it just...you wanna be a big boy, you learn that when somebody says they're sorry...you don't hold a grudge and make them feel bad for, you know, a long time afterwards. OK, go on...don't eat with your fingers, come on, Bill...Billy! You know better than that! Here, here's your fork. Come on, come on. Sit up, sit up, sit up. How was school today?
Billy: Same as usual.
Ted: Hey, I see the Knicks finally won a game, what do you know.
Billy: I don't care.
Ted: What do you mean?
Billy: I like Boston.
Ted: Boston? Why do you like Boston?
Billy: 'Cause Mommy's from Boston (pause)
Ted: Okay sit up and try to eat some more. Come on.
Billy: Can I be excused? I wanna go to bed.
Ted: Too much birthday cake?
Billy: Yeah, I guess.
Margaret: Know who Charley's seeing now?
Margaret: A divorced woman with two little girls the same age as Kim and Petey.
Ted: Are you kidding? Are you kidding?
Ted: How do you know?
Margaret: I know.
Ted: How long has it been since you and Charlie broke up now?
Margaret: A year and a half.
Ted: That long? I didn't tell ya how sorry, how really sad Joanna and I were, when you guys split?
Margaret: Look at that cute little boy (laughs) over there.
Ted: You think you'll ever get married again?
Ted: I mean, to anybody.
Margaret: I don't know, maybe it's different if you don't have children but...even if Charley and I aren't living together, and even if we're sleeping with other people, and...even if Charley were to get married again...I don't know - he's still...my husband and he's still the father of my children, and (sighs)...that stuff about 'till death do you part'...that's really true.
Ted: Well, let me ask you this. Let's say Charley finishes his midlife crisis, and he's had it with his little flings, and he comes knocking on your door, asks for forgiveness, what would you do?
Margaret: I think...that if he really loved me...he wouldn't have let me divorce him. (long pause)
Ted: You still think about him, don't you?
Margaret: Only all the time. (pause) Think about Joanna?
Margaret: (laughs) You liar!
Ted: Some pair, boy...(Margaret laughs)
Jim: I don't believe it! You missed the closing!
Ted: I'm sorry.
Jim: Look, I got to tell something. I'm getting very, very nervous here. I gotta be honest with you about that. Ever since your wife left you. What is it? Eight months now? You're not getting any better; you're getting a helluva lot worse.
Ted: What do you mean?
Jim: Look. Look, I can't let your family problems interfere with my responsibilities. I got a shop to run.
Ted: OK, look, I regret it, and I promise you it will never happen again, OK? (intercom buzzes)
Jim: Yeah!...Oh...Yeah, uh, wait a minute. It's for you. Pick up 461.
Ted: Who is it?
Jim: Pick up 461!
Ted: Yeah?...Oh, hi, Billy, what's up?...No, one hour of television a day, that's the rule!...No...I don't care what the other mothers do, Billy, we made a deal!...Look, I can't talk now, I'm busy...We'll talk about it tonight when I get home, all right? Double chocolate chip banana. (hangs up the phone)
Jim: I'm gettin' very nervous.
(Billy makes noises playing with a toy plane)
Ted: All right, come on, put that down and eat your dinner, it's getting cold.
Billy: What is this crap?
Ted: It's Salisbury steak.
Billy: I hate it.
Ted: You do not hate it. You had it last week and you loved it.
Billy: No, I didn't.
Billy: I hate the brown stuff. It's gross.
Ted: OK, all that is is onions and gravy.
Billy: I'm allergic to onions.
Ted: You are not allergic to onions. You had this last week, and remember, I
told you it was my favorite when I was a little boy, and you said 'It's my
Billy: I did not.
Ted: Yes, you did. Here. It's regular hamburger. Just give it a little bite. It's delicious!
Billy: (makes a sound as though about to throw up)
Ted: So what's the matter?
Billy: I think I'm gonna throw up.
Ted: No, you're not, now you're gonna eat your...
Billy: It's eee-yucky!
Ted: It is not 'yucky', Billy. Eat it!
Billy: Did you remember to bring the chocolate chip ice cream home?
Ted: (answers sarcastically, making fun of Billy's question) Yes, I did remember to bring the chocolate chip ice cream home, and you can't have any of it until you eat all your dinner, and then eat your meat and your corn...(changes tone of voice) Where are you going? Get back here right now. Did you hear me? You'd better not do that. You'd better stop right there, fella, I'm warning you. Did you hear me? Now you listen to me. Don't be smart now. You go right back and put that back until you finish your dinner. I'm, I'm warning you...you take one bite out of that and you're in big trouble...Don't...hey! Don't you dare. Don't you dare do that. Did you hear me? Hey, stop! Hold it right there. You put that ice cream in your mouth and you are in very very very big trouble. Don't you dare go anywhere beyond that. Put it down right now. I am not going to say it again. I am not going to say it again. All right...enough!
Billy: Ow! Ow! You're hurting me!
Ted: That's it! Ow! Don't you kick me.
Billy: Owww, ow, I hate you!
Ted: You're no bargain, either, Pal. You are a spoiled, rotten little brat, and I'll tell you right now I'm...
Billy: I hate you!
Ted: And I hate you back, you little shit!
Billy: I want my mommy!
Ted: I'm all you've got. (spanks Billy)
Billy: (cries) I want my mommy! I want my mommy! I want my mommy! (cries)
Billy: I'm sorry.
Ted: I'm sorry, too. (kisses Billy) I want you to go to sleep, 'cause it's really late. Hey!
Ted: Now what is it?
Billy: Are you going away?
Ted: No. I'm staying right here with you. You're not going to get rid of me that easy.
Billy: That's why Mommy left, isn't it? Because I was bad?
Ted: Is that what you think?
Ted: No. No. That's not it, Billy. Your mom loves you very much, and the reason she left doesn't have anything to do with you...I, I don't know whether this is gonna make any sense, but I'll try to explain it to you, OK? I think the reason why Mommy left was because for a long time now, I've kept trying to make her be a certain kind of person, Billy. A certain kind of wife, that I thought she was supposed to be. And she just wasn't like that. She was...She just wasn't like that. And now that I think about it I think that she tried for so long to make me happy, and when she couldn't, she tried to talk to me about it, see? But I wasn't listening 'cause I was too busy; I was too...wrapped up...just thinking about myself. And I thought that anytime I was happy, and that meant she was happy. But I think underneath she was very sad. Mommy stayed here longer than she wanted to, I think, because she loves you so much. And the reason why Mommy couldn't stay anymore was because she couldn't stand me, Billy. She didn't leave because of you; she left because of me. (pause; Ted kisses Billy) Go to sleep now because it's really late, okay?
Billy: Good night.
Ted: Sleep tight.
Billy: Don't let the bedbugs bite.
Ted: See you in the morning light.
Billy: I love you.
Ted: I love you, too. (turns out light and leaves bedroom)
Ted: All right.
Ted: Hi, how are ya?
Joanna: You look great!...How's your, uh,...
Ted: Oh, I'm sorry.
Joanna: Oh, I was just gonna say...how's your job?
Ted: Fine, fine. Vice president of nothing.
Ted: No, really. It's going fine.
Waitress: Excuse me, would you like a drink?
Ted: Uh, whatever she's having.
Joanna: White wine.
Joanna: How's Billy?
Ted: He's terrific. Uh, he...uh...had a little accident a couple weeks ago in the playground and he cut himself. It was really scary. I ran him all the way to the hospital. He's got a little teeny scar but he's gonna be fine. I, I've been worrying that it's my fault, and...
Joanna: No, don't do that.
Ted: (laughs awkwardly)
Joanna: You can't even see it from a distance. I, I...Sometimes I sit in that coffee shop across the street from his school and watch him. He got so big!
Ted: You've been watching him from the coffee shop?
Joanna: Well, I've been in New York for about 2 months now, so...
Ted: I didn't know that.
Joanna: Anyway...that's why I wanted to talk to you today. Because um...
Joanna: Last time you saw me, I was in...eh...pretty bad...really bad...
Ted: Uh, shaky? (laughs)
Joanna: Shaky, yeah, I was. I was. Really.
Ted: Well, you look, you look...lovely...now.
Joanna: I have a whole speech...
Ted: No, go ahead.
Joanna: (laughs and sighs) All my life I've, I've felt like somebody's wife, or somebody's mother, or somebody's daughter...even all the time we were together, I never knew who I was. And that's why I had to go away. And in California, I think I found myself. And I got myself a job. I got myself a therapist, a really good one. And...and I feel better about myself than I ever have in my whole life. I've learned a great deal about myself.
Ted: Such as...? No, I, I, really. I'd like to know what you learned.
Joanna: Well, I've learned that I love...my little boy. And, uh, that I'm capable of taking care of him.
Ted: What do you mean?
Joanna: I want my son.
Ted: You can't have him.
Joanna: Now don't get defensive. Don't...don't try to bully me. OK?
Ted: I'm not getting defensive. Who walked out of the house 15 months ago?
Joanna: I don't care.
Joanna: I am still his mother.
Ted: Yes, and 3000 miles away, and just because you sent a few postcards it gives you the right of coming back here.
Joanna: ...but I never stop loving him...I never stop wanting him and loving him.
Ted: What makes you so sure he wants you?
Joanna: What makes you so sure he doesn't want me?
Ted: Ok, look, we're gonna sit here and bat this back and forth like it was for 8 years. It's, it's like old times...
Joanna: I mean, you can't deny me access to my baby...
Ted: Don't tell me what I can or cannot do. Don't talk to me that way.
Joanna: I have anticipated this. Don't say...
Ted: OK, look, I don't want to get into this. Look, you're gonna have to do what you're gonna hafta do...
Ted: And I'm gonna have to do what I have to do.
Joanna: I'm very sorry about this...
Joanna: 'cause I...
Ted: You just do what you have to do. (dish crashes and breaks)
Ted: I don't know the legal jargon for it, but I would think it's 'desertion'. I mean, I don't mean to tell you your job, Mr. Shaunessy, but I, I wou...I just think I have an open-and-shut case.
Shaunessy: Well, at first, Mr. Kramer, there's no such thing as an open-and-shut case where custody is involved. Well, I'm willing to bet your ex-wife has already found a lawyer, and he's advised her to move back to New York to establish residency. Now, the burden is on us to prove that your ex-wife was an unfit mother. And that means I'll have to play rough. And if I play rough, you can bet they will too. Can you, uh, take that Mr. Kramer?
Shaunessy: And it's going to cost you 15,000 dollars. That's if we win! If we go to appeal, it'll cost you more.
Ted: (pause) I understand.
Shaunessy: Now, how old is the child again?
Ted: Uh, my son is 7.
Shaunessy: Oh, that's tough.
Shaunessy: Well, in most cases involving a child that young, the court tends to side with the mother.
Ted: But she signed over custody.
Shaunessy: I'm not saying we don't have a shot, but it won't be easy...Uh, Mr. Kramer, do me a favor, will you? There's something I find very useful in matters like this. I sit down and I write out all the pros and cons on an issue. I actually write them down and look at them. (writing) I want you to do that, okay? And after that, if you're really certain you want to retain custody of your child, then we'll, uh, go in there and beat the pants off 'em, OK?
Jim: Ted, you got lunch?
Ted: Oh, hi, Jim, gee, uh, I don't know, I was trying to work this idea out here, uh...
Jim: Huh? Good. I'll pick you up at one o'clock.
Ted: OK, uh, you got it! (laughing)...Well anyway, so the other morning, I'm at the refrigerator, and it's, you know, I'm getting Billy ready for school. So I'm just in my underwear. And he notices that I, I've lost weight. And he comes up to me and he pats me. He comes up to about here (gestures) on me. And he says, 'Daddy!' he says, 'you've really lost a lot of weight!' And he looks up at me and he says, "And it's all gone to your nose!' Ha, ha, ha,...he was so cute, you know...
Jim: Well, you know, kids...
Ted: This is delicious. You want a taste? It's delicious.
Jim: No, thanks, Ted.
Ted: Are you sure?
Jim: No, I'm full.
Ted: It's good.
Jim: Uh, listen, uh, Ted, I had a call from a friend of mine from another agency.
Jim: The Mid-Atlantic people have invited him to pitch the account.
Jim: I guess they're not happy with what we've done.
Ted: I think maybe you should have them over and I'll give them a little tapdance, you know. Huh?
Jim: No, that's OK. I got Norman working on it.
Ted: Norman? You taking me off the account? You don't like me anymore?
Jim: It's not quite that simple. (coughs) Uh, I think, uh, we're gonna have to make a few changes, yeah.
Ted: You firing me? (laughs)
Jim: Yeah, I'm letting you off, yes.
Jim: Now look, Ted, this is a very painful thing for me. You don't know how badly I feel. But I, I've been getting a lot of pressure from the guys upstairs, and there wasn't anything else I could do. Listen, I've thought about this a lot, and it's really better this way. I mean, if I was to take away your stripes, if, if I was to put you on some schlock account, you'd hate it, you'd hate me for doing it to you. This way it's a, it's a clean break, and believe me, that's the best thing.
Ted: You know that my wife is, is fighting me for custody. You know that, that we're going to court. Do you know what my chances are if I'm out a, if I'm out of a job?
Jim: Now, look, I understand that you're upset, for God's sakes...
Ted: I'm mean, I'm, I don't want to, I don't want to beg, I'm asking you please as a friend, huh?
Ted: I'm asking you.
Jim: You're an extremely bright guy. You really are. You gotta have other talent. You're gonna be OK. You're gonna land on your feet. You're gonna survive! Teddy, look, I know you may be a little short of cash right now. No big hurry about paying this back.
Ted: Shame on you. (they leave)
Agent: Of course you realize this is the worst time of year to look for a work. It's the holiday season! Now I'm sure we'll have something for you by mid-February, March at the latest.
Ted: I can't wait. I have to have a job today.
Agent: Mr. Kramer, it's December 22nd!!!
Ted: I know it is. If you could just look at your card catalogue. (he looks) I'll take anything
Agent: There might be something at Norman, Craig and Kummel, but I don't know.
Ted: What is it?
Agent: Uh, something in the art department...
Agent: You'd have to go back on the board.
Ted:It's all right.
Agent: It's really a step down. Cut in salary of almost 5,000 per year. I'm sure you'd be much happier if you wait until after the first.
Ted: OK, do me a favor. Call up Norman, Craig and Kummel. Make an appointment for me today at 4:00.
Agent: It's the Friday before Christmas!!
Ted: Yeah, I know that, but it's still a workday. Please.
Agent: Nobody's gonna wanna...
Ted: (shoves phone in front of him loudly) Look. You call him up or I call him up. If I call him up you don't get a commission. Right?
Agent: My, we are a hot shot, aren't we? (pause, picks up the phone, dials reluctantly)
Ted: Yes. We are.
Ted: Come on!...What do you think?
Billy: It's neat!
Ted: I told you!
Billy: Where is everybody?
Ted: Well, it's Saturday, so very few people come in here because it's a day off...OK, push 'up'.
Push the top button. The very top button. Go ahead. Jump! Oh!
Ted: (laughs) Look at that!
Ted: Did you know you were up this high?
Billy: What building is that?
Ted: Which one?
Billy: That has the pointy, point top?
Ted: That's the Chrysler.
Ted: You proud of me?
Billy: Yeah! How'd you get this job?
Ted: I told 'em I wanted it...What's that say?
Billy: It's says 'Kramer'.
Ted: 'Kramer'. Who's that?
Billy: That's us!
Ted: That's right! Wanna see?
Billy: Wowwwwwww! This is neat!
Ted: You like it?
Ted: Careful, careful, careful, careful.
Billy: We're OK.
Ted: It's scary.
Billy: What's that building near the water, Dad?
Ted: That's the UN building! And that's the East River right there. And look across there. You see that?
Ted: That's Queens. And look way, way down there. You know what this is?
Billy: Isn't that where you used to live when you were a kid?
Ted: That's right. And this is where I work!
Billy: Wow! Is this really your desk?
Billy: Are you ever gonna get remarried?
Ted: I don't know. I hadn't thought about it.
Billy: Are you ever gonna remarry Phyllis?
Ted: No, we're just good friends.
Billy: Oh...Are you and Mom ever gonna get remarried?
Ted: No, Mommy and me will never be remarried.
I bet if she saw this, she'd remarry you.
Shaunessy: Ted, John Shaunessy here.
Ted: Hi, John. What's up?
Shaunessy: I, uh, just got a call from your wife's lawyer. She wants to see the kid.
Ted: She wants what?
Shaunessy: She's the mother. That means she's within her legal rights.
Ted: How do I know she's not going to kidnap him?
Shaunessy: Look, uh, Ted, I don't honestly think she'd go to the trouble of suing for custody of the child if she's going to kidnap him.
Ted: All right, just wait a minute now. I'm not so sure about her mental health.
Shaunessy: What do you mean by that?
Ted: She told me she was seeing a, a shrink, a psychiatrist or something.
Shaunessy: What, did you ever see her talk to the walls?
Ted: No, but I'm just saying, you know...
Shaunessy: Look, and I'm just saying that you don't have a choice! Now, have Billy at the boat pond in Central Park Saturday at 10.
Ted: I have to?
Ted: Thanks very much.
Gressen: For my first witness, I would like to call Joanna Kramer.
Motherhood. They're, uh, going right for the throat.
Court assistant: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?
Joanna: I do.
Gressen: Now then, Mrs. Kramer, would you tell the court how long you were married?
Joanna: Eight years.
Gressen: And would you describe those years as happy?
Joanna: The first two, yes. But after that it became increasingly difficult.
Gressen: Mrs. Kramer, did you hold a job before you were married?
Joanna: Yes, I did. Uh, when I first got out of Smith, I...worked at, in the art department of Mademoiselle magazine...for several years.
Gressen: Did you continue to work after you were married?
Joanna: No, I did not.
Gressen: Did you wish to?
Joanna: Yes. But every time I talked to Ted - to my ex-husband - about it, he...wouldn't listen; he refused to discuss it in any serious way. I remember once he said that I probably...couldn't get a job that pay that would pay enough to hire a babysitter for Billy.
Gressen: Tell me, are you employed at the present time?
Joanna: Yes, I'm a sportswear designer for Selco here in New York.
Gressen: And what is your present salary?
Joanna: I make thirty-one thousand dollars a year.
Gressen: Mrs. Kramer, do you love your child?
Joanna: Yes, I do, very much.
Gressen: And yet you chose to leave him?
Joanna: Yes. Umm, look, during the last five years of our marriage, I was becoming more and more unhappy, more and more troubled. And I really needed somebody to help me. But when I turned to Ted, he just wasn't there for me. So we became more and more isolated from one another, more and more separate. He was very involved in his career, and because of his attitude towards my fears and his inability to deal my feelings, I had come to have almost no self-esteem. I was scared, and I was very unhappy. And in my mind I had no other choice but to leave. The time I left, I felt that there was something terribly wrong with me. And that my son would be better off without me. And it was only after I got to California that I realized after getting into therapy that I wasn't such terrible person, and...just because I needed some kind of creative, or emotional outlet other than my child, that didn't make me unfit to be a mother.
Gressen: Your Honor, I would like to submit as evidence a report by Mrs. Kramer's therapist, Dr. Eleanor Friedman.
Shaunessy: Objection, Your Honor. The report is irrelevant and immaterial, and not binding on the respondant.
Gressen: Mrs. Kramer, can you tell the court why you are asking for custody?
Joanna: Because he's my child. And because I love him. I know I left my son. I know that that's a terrible thing to do. Believe me, I have to live with that every day of my life. But in order to leave him, I had to believe that it was the only thing I could do. And that it was the best thing for him. I was incapable of functioning in that home. And I didn't know what the alternative was going to be. (sighs) So I thought it was not best that I take him with me. However, I have since gotten some help, and I have worked very, very hard to become a whole human being. And I don't think I should be punished for that. And I don't think my little boy should be punished. Billy's only seven years old. He needs me. I'm not saying he doesn't need his father. But I really believe he needs me more. I was his mommy for five and a half years. And Ted took over that role for eighteen months. But I don't know how anybody can possibly believe that I have less of a stake in mothering that little boy than Mr. Kramer does. I'm his mother. I'm his mother.
Gressen: Thank you, Mrs. Kramer. I have no further questions.
Shaunessy: Now then, uh, Mrs. Kramer. You say that, uh, you were married for eight years, is, uh, that correct?
Shaunessy: In all that time did your husband ever strike you or physically abuse you in any way?
Shaunessy: Did he, uh, ever strike or physically abuse his child in any way?
Shaunessy: Would you, uh, describe your husband as an alcoholic?
Shaunessy: A heavy drinker?
Shaunessy: Was he unfaithful?
Joanna: (pauses) No.
Shaunessy: Uh, did he ever fail to provide for you in any way?
Shaunessy: (sniggers) Well, I can certainly see why you left him.
Shaunessy: How long do you plan to live in New York, Mrs. Kramer?
Joanna: Uh, permanently.
Shaunessy: Mmm. How many, uh, boyfriends have you had, uh, permanently?
Gressen: Objection, your honor, on the grounds of vagueness.
Judge: I'll allow it.
Joanna: (hesitates) Ah, I don't recall.
Shaunessy: Well, more than three, less than thirty-three, permanently?
Judge: Overruled. The witness will answer, please.
Joanna: Somewhere in between.
Shaunessy: Mmm. Do you have a lover now? (Joanna doesn't answer) Your honor, I would request a direct answer to a direct question. Does she have a lover?
Judge: I'll allow that. The witness will answer, please.
Joanna: Yes, I'm seeing someone now.
Shaunessy: Is that, uh, permanent?
Joanna: Well, I don't know.
Shaunessy: We don't really know, do we, when you say permanently, if you plan to live in New York, or even to, uh, keep your child for that matter, since you've never really done anything in your life that was continuing, stable, or could be regarded as permanent!
Gressen: Objection, I must request the counsel be prevented from harassing the witness.
Shaunessy: I'll put it another way, Counsel. What was the longest personal relationship in your life, uh, outside of your parents or girlfriends?
Joanna: I suppose that would be with my child.
Shaunessy: Whom you've seen twice in a year. Mrs. Kramer, your ex-husband. Wasn't he the longest personal relationship in your life? (pause) Uh, would you speak up, Mrs. Kramer, I couldn't hear you.
Shaunessy: How long was that?
Joanna: (sighs) We were married a year before the baby, and then seven years after that.
Shaunessy: So, you were a failure at the one most important relationship in your life.
Judge: Overruled. The witness's opinion on this matter is relevant.
Joanna: I was not a failure.
Shaunessy: Oh? What do you call it then? A success? The marriage ended in divorce.
Joanna: I consider it less my failure than his.
Shaunessy: Congratulations, Mrs. Kramer, you've just rewritten matrimonial law. You were both divorced.
Shaunessy: Your honor, I would like to ask what this model of stability and respectability has ever succeeded at? Were you a failure at the one most important personal relationship in your life?
Joanna: It did not succeed.
Shaunessy: Not 'it', Mrs. Kramer, 'you'! Were you a failure at the one most important relationship in your life? (shouts) Were you? (Joanna sniffs, nods)
Judge: Is that a 'yes', Mrs. Kramer? (Joanna nods)
Shaunessy: No further questions.
Margaret: Mr. Kramer is a very devoted father. He, uh, spends a great deal of time with Billy, he reads to Billy a lot, they play together, they talk all the time. He's a wonderful father.
Shaunessy: Thank you, Mrs. Phelps. No further questions.
Gressen: Mrs. Phelps, how long have you known Joanna Kramer?
Margaret: Uh, about six years, ever since, uh, she and Ted moved into the building.
Gressen: And often did you see Joanna Kramer and her son?
Margaret: Well, of course I haven't seen them together now for about a year and a half, but...back then I saw them maybe two or three times a week. Kim, my oldest daughter, and Billy played together all the time.
Gressen: Can you describe the relationship between Joanna Kramer and her son?
Margaret: It was good. Joanna was a very good mother. Both Ted and Joanna...(she is cut off by Gressen)
Gressen: At the time you knew Joanna Kramer, did she ever discuss her relationship with her ex-husband?
Gressen: Can you tell the court exactly what she said?
Margaret: (pause) Joanna wasn't very happy, for a number of reasons (Margaret is again cut off by Gressen)
Gressen: Did you ever hear her say that Mr. Kramer was insensitive to his son's needs? (silence) Mrs. Phelps, would you answer the question? (silence) I'm sorry, I didn't hear you.
Margaret: Yes, but that was before I told...
Gressen: Mrs. Phelps, did you ever encourage Joanna Kramer to leave her husband?
Margaret: No, I did not.
Gressen: Several days before she left, did you say to her: "If you are in this much pain, you owe it to yourself to leave."?
Margaret: I didn't think that Joanna would...
Gressen: Did you say to Joanna Kramer, "If you are in this much pain, you owe it to yourself to leave."?
Margaret: Yes, but she was my friend, and she was in trouble...
Gressen: Thank you, Mrs. Phelps, no further questions.
Judge: Mrs. Phelps, you may step down.
Margaret: Joanna, things are not the same now. Ted is not the same man. You don't know how hard it's...
Judge: Mrs. Phelps, please.
Margaret: They're beautiful together. Just beautiful.
Judge: Mrs. Phelps.
Gressen: Your Honor, the witness has been asked to step down.
Margaret: If you could see them together, Joanna, I mean, maybe you wouldn't be here now.
Judge: Mrs. Phelps, that will be all!
Margaret: I'm sorry.
Ted: Eh, you know when you were talkin' before, uh, I mean with my, my ex-wife, when she was talking about how unhappy she was during our marriage, like, I guess most of what she said was probably true. There's a lot of things I didn't understand, a lot of things I'd do different if I could, just like I think there's a lot of things you wish you could change, but we can't. Some...things once they're done can't be undone. My, my wife, my...ex-wife, says that she loves Billy, and I believe she does, but I don't think that's the issue here; if I understand it correctly, what...means the most here is what's best for our son, what's best for Billy. My wife used to always say to me, 'Why can't a woman have the same ambitions as a man?' I think you're right, and maybe I learned that much. But by the same token, I'd like to know what law is it that says that a woman is a better parent, simply by virtue of her sex? You know, a lot of time I think about what it is that makes somebody a good parent. You know, it has to do with constancy, it has to do with, with, with patience, it has to do with listening to him, it has to do with pretending to listen to him when you can't even listen any more. It has to do with love, like, like, like, like she was saying. And I don't know where it's written that says that a woman has, has a corner on that market, that a, that a man has any less of those emotions than, than, than a woman does. Billy has a home with me. I've made it the best I could. It's not perfect, I'm not a perfect parent. Uh, sometimes I don't have enough patience and I forget that he's, uh, he's a little kid. And there...I get up in the morning, and then we eat breakfast, and he talks to me and then we go to school, and then at night we have dinner together and...and we talk then, and I read to him, and, and we've built a life together, and we love each other. (silence) If you destroy that, it may be irreparable. (near tears) Joanna, don't do that, please. Don't do it twice to me.
Shaunessy: Thank you, Mr. Kramer. No further questions.
(Gressen begins questioning)
Gressen: Mr. Kramer, how long have you worked in advertising?
Ted: Uh, ever since I graduated high school; uh, uh, college, I mean. I started in the mail room; I've been in it for about ten, fifteen years.
Gressen: And would you say that you have achieved a certain status or position in your profession?
Ted: Yes, I think I have a pretty good reputation.
Gressen: Mr. Kramer, when you were working at Roth, Caine and Donovon, what was your salary?
Ted: Like around 33 thousand dollars a year when I left.
Gressen: And now I believe you're working at Norman, Craig and Kummel?
Gressen: And what is your salary there?
Ted: It's uh, it's, uh, almost $29,000.
Gressen: Could you be more specific, Mr. Kramer?
Ted: I make 28,200 dollars.
Gressen: 28,200. Well, Mr. Kramer, you're the only person I've ever heard of who's working his way down the ladder of success.
Shaunessy: Objection! Your Honor, I must ask that Counsel's last remark be stricken from the record.
Gressen: Uh, Mr. Kramer, isn't it true that you were fired from you previous job?
Ted: I was let go.
Gressen: Very well, Mr. Kramer, will you tell the court why you were 'let go'?
Ted: There was a difference of opinion in company policy.
Gressen: Mr. Kramer, isn't it true that your agency lost a major advertising account due to your negligence?
Gressen: Your Honor, I'm simply trying to establish the witness's employment record. He pretends to fitness when he cannot hold a job.
Judge: I'll allow it, Mr. Shaunessy.
Ted: It's not unusual in advertising for a...client in the middle of a campaign to change his mind and go elsewhere. It happens every day...
Gressen: (interrupting, and with background noise) Mr. Kramer, was it not true that you walked out on a client in the middle of a major presentation saying that you had an appointment with a first grade teacher?
Ted: There was a problem in school; my son was sitting next to a kid who was hitting and biting him.
Gressen: Yes or no...Mr. Kramer??
Ted: Yes, but he, he hit my kid.
Gressen: (interrupting again) Mr. Kramer, in the Spring of this last year did you or did you not miss a deadline on the Mid-Atlantic Airlines account, causing your company not only a great deal of embarrassment, but considerable financial liability as well?
Ted: On that day I had to go home because my child was sick.
Gressen: Mr. Kramer, did you or did you not miss a deadline? Yes or not?
Ted: My son was sick.
Judge: Mr. Kramer, answer the question.
Ted: I'm trying to answer the question. It's not 'yes or no'. I'm sitting there in, in my office...
Gressen: Mr. Kramer, yes, or no???
Ted: (angrily) He had a hundred and four temperature. He's lying there sweating. I go home to be with him...
Gressen: Your Honor...
Judge: Mr. Kramer, I must urge you to stop or else I'll have to hold you in contempt.
Ted: (long silence; quietly) I missed the deadline.
Gressen: Mr. Kramer, would you say you have a violent temper?
Ted: (answers very quickly) No.
Gressen: I withdraw the question. Mr. Kramer, do you consider yourself a fit and responsible parent?
Ted: Yes, I do.
Gressen: And isn't it true that your child nearly lost an eye when he was in your care?
Gressen: Answer the question, Mr. Kramer.
Ted: We were in the playground. He was on the jungle gym with a...
Gressen: And fell and then nearly lost an eye when he was in your care!
Ted: He fell down and...he cut himself.
Gressen: Isn't it true that you told your ex-wife that you were responsible for the injury that permanently disfigured your child?
Shaunessy: I object! If the Counsel for the petitioner...
Gressen: Did you say to her recently: "When it happened, I felt I was guilty, I felt it was all my fault?
Gressen: Your Honor, I have concluded my questions.
(later, outside the courtroom)
Joanna (to Ted): Ted? Ted?...I'm sorry, I mentioned the accident to him two months ago, right after I saw you at Mellon's. And I never thought he would bring it up. Never. Believe me. I, I never would have mentioned it if I'd thought he would have pulled a thing like that. I'm sorry, I'm...
Ted: Hi! Here, lemme help you.
Margaret: No, heard anything yet?
Ted: Ah, any day, my lawyer says no news is good news.
Margaret: Guess what.
Margaret: Charlie and I are talking about getting back together again.
Ted: Really? Did he finally call you?
Margaret: No, I called him.
Ted: How come?
Margaret: I don't know, I got to thinking about a lot of things since the trial, you know. And, uh, anyway, I don't think it'll work out, but...he seems to want it.
Ted: That's terrific. How do you feel?
Margaret: I don't know, I feel scared, I guess.
Ted: I lost.
Shaunessy: I can't tell you how sorry I am.
Ted: What happened?
Shaunessy: The judge went for motherhood right down the line. Order of the judge, it is decreed that the petitioner be awarded custody of the minor child effective Monday, the 23rd of January. Let the respondent pay for the maintenance and support of said child 400 dollars each month. That the father shall have the following rights of visitaiton: every other weekend, one night each week, being mutually agreed upon, and one-half of the child's vacation period. That's it.
Ted: What if I fight it?
Shaunessy: We can appeal but I can't guarantee anything.
Ted: I'll take my chances.
Shaunessy: It'll cost you.
Ted: I don't care. I'll pay you.
Shaunessy: Look Ted, I'm gonna have to tell you something. This time it'll be Billy that pays. I'll have to put him on the stand.
Ted: Can't do that. No, I don't want to do that. Thanks very much for your time. I'm going to take a walk.
(footsteps, Ted picks up phone) Ted: Yes?
Joanna: Ted, it's Joanna. I'm downstairs in the lobby. Can you come down here and meet me...alone? (hangs up phone, elevator opens, footsteps)
Ted: (still walking) Hi. What's the matter? (pause) Tell me, what? What's the matter? (pause)
Joanna: I woke up this morning, (sighs, pause) kept thinking about Billy and I, (sigh) I was thinking about him waking up in his room with (sighs) those little clouds around that I painted, and I thought I should have painted clouds downtown, because (starts sniffing, pauses) then he would think that he was waking up at home. (pause, sighs) I came here to...take my son home (sniff, pause) and I realized he already is home. (sobs, pause) Oh, oh, I love him very much..(sniffs, pause, hard breathing) I'm not gonna take him with me. (hard breathing, sighs) Can I go up and (sniffs) talk to him?
Ted: Yeah. (footsteps, elevator opens, pause) Listen, why don't you go upstairs and see him and I'll wait here? (pause)
Joanna: How do I look? (pause)