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 »
When Joker and Cullen are cooking the frog, we see they are drying their cigarettes and matches by the fire. So how did they build a fire in the first place? See more »
Kramer's story about to escaped prisoners hooked up together, black and white, is still the best picture ever made on racism. At first they hate each other, but through their run for freedom they even become true friends and the different color of their skins actually disappears and they are just to men who like each other. Sidney Poitier is good as always and Tony Curtis gives what is probably his best performance ever in drama, matched only by his acting in The Boston Strangler later in 1967. The supporting cast is also good and correctly chosen. Although real action scenes are just a few, Kramer manages to keep attention permanently for viewers along with an increasing interest in how things turn out. Time has not affected the film which still stands as a big one.
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