74 user 32 critic

The Defiant Ones (1958)

Approved | | Crime, Drama | 27 September 1958 (USA)
Two escaped convicts chained together, white and black, must learn to get along in order to elude capture.




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Complete credited cast:
Capt. Frank Gibbons
Big Sam (as Lon Chaney)
Lawrence Dobkin ...
Lou Gans
Angus (as Carl Switzer)


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 | swamp | prison | See All (63) »


They couldn't like each other less. They couldn't need each other more. See more »


Crime | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

27 September 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flucht in Ketten  »

Box Office


$778,000 (estimated)

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?


Tony Curtis believed in the movie so much, he helped raise the $1 million budget through Curtleigh, the production company he had formed with his wife Janet Leigh. See more »


Twice they are soaked to the skin in water and mud, but come up with dry cigarettes and matches. See more »


John 'Joker' Jackson: Cullen, I can't make it.
Noah Cullen: [Holding out his arm as if they are still chained together] Come on, man, you draggin' the chain.
See more »


Referenced in The A-Team: Breakout! (1984) 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
See more »

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User Reviews

Full marks for guts, more than half marks for merit
14 December 2001 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

Proof that Stanley Kramer's decision to idealise the Sidney Poitier character in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" was a conscious, thought-out move (some would say it was a mistake for all that, but that's another matter), and not a cowardly or patronising one. Poitier's convict here has streaks of nobility - Curtis's does too - but the aggression for which he was jailed is real enough.

For the first half, everything is firmly screwed in place: the black and the white convict chained together, the local volunteers tracking them down, the humane sheriff trying to keep his forces in check. Things started to shake themselves loose when the woman makes an entrance. The story had worked well so long as the two convicts were estranged from civilisation, with only each other to fall back on, and it might have continued to work, if the woman had been interesting in some other way than as a plot device. In fact things got better again as soon as she vanished from the screen.

Solid and intelligent, but the other well-known Kramer films, considered as films, are better.

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