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 drive 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
Stanley Kramer originally had Sidney Poitier and Marlon Brando in mind for the two protagonists. Both were interested but only Poitier was available. Brando was caught up in filming Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), a film with a highly troubled and seemingly endless shoot. As the start date for The Defiant Ones (1958) loomed, Kramer had no option but to start looking at other actors. Also, while Brando liked the integration message, he didn't like the way Kramer had produced their film, The Wild One (1953). See more »
As John and Noah are swept downriver together, a person is seen on the shore moving into the top of frame, watching the two men. See more »
Sidney Poitier continues to break race barriers with this formula jail-break drama. Teamed with Tony Curtis, the escaped prisoners encounter many situations, where their difference in color seems to matter more than the fact that both are fugitives from the law. Throughout the film, the viewer empathizes with the escapees, figuring that they always got a bum deal in life. A scene towards the end, where a single mother sees a chance to "hook up" with Curtis, shows how Curtis, although often disagreeing, even physically fighting with Poitier, still sees Poitier as an equal in their quest for freedom. Rather than "sell out" his friend, he would rather die trying to save him. The inevidable ending (remember that one of the rules in Old Hollywood was that the bad guys can never win)is quite moving.
Definitely among the established Hollywood Classics. Although many of the "old ways" have changed drastically since the late 50s, this film offers insight into a piece of Americana many people living today can still recall. An important piece of Film History, and highly recommended.
32 of 35 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?