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The Defiant Ones (14-Aug-1958)

Director: Stanley Kramer

Writers: Nedrick Young; Harold Jacob Smith

Music by: Ernest Gold

Producer: Stanley Kramer

Keywords: Crime, Racism

When their prison transport runs into a ditch, Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier, a racist white man and black man shackled together, take the opportunity to escape. Initial animosity gives way to reluctant friendship, as they find they absolutely must depend on each other to survive. Won Oscars for Best Writing and Best Cinematography; received additional nominations for Best Picture, two for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Best Director and Best Editing.

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Claude Akins
25-May-1926 27-Jan-1994 Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo
Theodore Bikel
2-May-1924 21-Jul-2015 The Defiant Ones
Whit Bissell
25-Oct-1909 5-Mar-1996 The Time Tunnel
Lon Chaney, Jr.
10-Feb-1906 12-Jul-1973 The Wolf Man
Tony Curtis
3-Jun-1925 29-Sep-2010 Some Like It Hot
King Donovan
25-Jan-1918 30-Jun-1987 Character actor husband of Imogene Coca
Charles McGraw
10-May-1914 30-Jul-1980 Armored Car Robbery
Sidney Poitier
20-Feb-1927   In The Heat Of The Night
Carl Switzer
7-Aug-1927 21-Jan-1959 Alfalfa in Our Gang
Cara Williams
29-Jun-1925   The Cara Williams Show


Tony Curtis   ...   John "Joker" Jackson
Sidney Poitier   ...   Noah Cullen
Theodore Bikel   ...   Sheriff Max Muller
Charles McGraw   ...   Capt. Frank Gibbons
Lon Chaney, Jr.   ...   Big Sam
King Donovan   ...   Solly
Claude Akins   ...   Mack
Lawrence Dobkin   ...   Editor
Whit Bissell   ...   Lou Gans
Carl Switzer   ...   Angus
Kevin Coughlin   ...   The Kid
Cara Williams   ...   The Woman


Review by Gary R. Lemco (posted on 20-Aug-2007)

Directed by Stanley Kramer, "The Defiant Ones" stands up well over the test of time as a solid character study of two men, one black, one white, chained together in their escape and forced to acknowldege their common humanity. Besides the strong acting from Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier, a host of supporting players moves the study along, including a sympathetic Sam (Lon Chaney, Jr.) and a dogged twosome of police officers (Theodore Bikel and Chalrs McGraw). King Donovan plays the owner of the pursuit dogs. Claude Akins plays a ferocious lynch-mob leader at a broken-in company store whom Sam quells with a devastating right cross. Good location shots of the bayou and a daunting clay pit provide some of the obstacles the pair have to run. A boy with a .22 ends a fierce conflict, the whle Civil Rights movement condensed into a furious microcosm. Tiem and again, it is Poitier's character who previals morally, while Curtis must reassess his conscience. Shot in 1958, the film stands as a kind of updated "I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang" with a racial twist. Good camera work, especially at the end, the famous run for the escaping freight-train. Poitier's heroic spirit, his bemused singing at the finale, binds us as well as Curtis to his intrepid soul.

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