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The Defiant Ones (1958)

7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 8,365 users  
Reviews: 68 user | 20 critic

Two escaped convicts chained together, white and black, must learn to get along in order to elude capture.

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Title: The Defiant Ones (1958)

The Defiant Ones (1958) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Capt. Frank Gibbons
...
Big Sam (as Lon Chaney)
King Donovan ...
Solly
...
Mack
Lawrence Dobkin ...
Editor
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Lou Gans
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Angus (as Carl Switzer)
Kevin Coughlin ...
Cara Williams ...
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Storyline

When the truck that is transporting convicts has an accident on the road, the inmates John "Joker" Jackson and Noah Cullen that are chained to each other escape. They hate each other but they need to help each other to succeed in their intent of going north to jump in a train and reach freedom. Meanwhile the humane Sheriff Max Muller organizes a posse to track them down in a civilized manner and respecting justice. Joker and Cullen reach a small farm where a lonely woman helps them to get rid of their chains. She offers to driver her car with Joker and her son Billy while Cullen would escape through the swamp to the railroad. But when Joker learns that she sent Cullen to a trap, he leaves her and is shot in the shoulder by Billy. Joker seeks out Cullen to save him and when they meet each other, their former hatred has changed to friendship and respect. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One of the great ones! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 September 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flucht in Ketten  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print) (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The young man with the transistor radio is played by Our Gang graduate Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer; this was Switzer's final screen appearance before his untimely death in a shooting incident. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the film the two convicts run a considerable distance away from the bridge as they try to board the train. But when they are finally found the same bridge is only yards away. See more »

Quotes

John 'Joker' Jackson: Ya'll can't lynch me! I'm a white man!
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Help! (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Long Gone
Adapted from "Long Gone (From Bowlin' Green)" (1920)
Music by W.C. Handy (as William C. Handy)
Words by Chris Smith
Sung a cappella by Sidney Poitier (uncredited) several times
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cellmates and Soulmates
8 August 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

There is this story going around that Robert Mitchum refused the part Tony Curtis eventually played because he did not want to work with a black man. The actual story is that Mitchum who did spend time on a southern chain gang said there was no way that back in the day a black and white man would have been chained together in the first place. In fact Stanley Kramer must have taken the critique in stride because sheriff Theodore Bikel has a line of explanation saying the warden had a sense of humor.

Though the film dates a bit, it's still quite dramatic even now. Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier chained together have an unplanned jail break while being transported. Curtis has all the attitudes typical of his time and Poitier doesn't take nothing off anybody. Still joined at the hip as they are, they do need each other and find eventually there's more that unites than divides them.

Besides Theodore Bikel in a strange role for him as a laconic southern sheriff, look for good performances from Lon Chaney, Jr. who runs a turpentine work camp who saves Curtis and Poitier from a lynching and Cara Williams as a trampy white trash farm lady whose needs haven't been met for a while.

Tony Curtis in an incredible act of generosity insisted on equal billing for Sidney Poitier since due to the nature of the film, they are on screen together for most of it. That act of generosity may have cost him an Oscar for both he and Poitier were nominated for Best Actor, but lost to David Niven for Separate Tables. An act that rankles Tony Curtis to this day because at the drop of a hat he will insist Niven got 'his' Oscar.

Despite the sour grapes, The Defiant Ones though dated is still a good bit of cinema.


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