The Defiant Ones (1958)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  27 September 1958 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 9,040 users  
Reviews: 69 user | 22 critic

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


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Won 2 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Capt. Frank Gibbons
Big Sam (as Lon Chaney)
King Donovan ...
Lawrence Dobkin ...
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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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

escape | convict | train | freedom | swamp | See All (63) »


One of the great ones! See more »


Crime | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

27 September 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flucht in Ketten  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print) (copyright length)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Other than Sidney Poitier's singing, all of the music in the film comes from radios. See more »


When Joker and Cullen arrive at the mud pit, their shirts are only partially wet, though they've been in the rain for some time. See more »


Noah Cullen: [to John] Go on, tell me all that big talk about Charlie Potatoes, when the chains off and nobody chasing you. Come on. You can't, can you? You can't because you're nothing. You're not even a man! You're a monkey on a stick. That cracker mob back there, they pull the string and you jump.
[John punches him]
See more »


Referenced in Android Apocalypse (2006) See more »


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
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User Reviews

The Poitier/Curtis Jail-Break Classic
2 October 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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.

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