IMDb > The Defiant Ones (1958)
The Defiant Ones
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The Defiant Ones (1958) More at IMDbPro »

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Down 9% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Nedrick Young (written by) (originally as Nathan E. Douglas)
Harold Jacob Smith (written by)
View company contact information for The Defiant Ones on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
27 September 1958 (USA) See more »
One of the great ones! See more »
Two escaped convicts chained together, white and black, must learn to get along in order to elude capture. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Won 2 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 19 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Cellmates and Soulmates See more (69 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Tony Curtis ... John 'Joker' Jackson

Sidney Poitier ... Noah Cullen

Theodore Bikel ... Sheriff Max Muller

Charles McGraw ... Capt. Frank Gibbons

Lon Chaney Jr. ... Big Sam (as Lon Chaney)
King Donovan ... Solly

Claude Akins ... Mack
Lawrence Dobkin ... Editor

Whit Bissell ... Lou Gans

Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer ... Angus (as Carl Switzer)
Kevin Coughlin ... Billy

Cara Williams ... Billy's Mother
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
James Dime ... Townsman (uncredited)
Clem Fuller ... Search Party Member (uncredited)

Ned Glass ... Doctor (uncredited)
Mickey Golden ... Search Party Member (uncredited)
Herman Hack ... Search Party Member (uncredited)
Signe Hack ... Townswoman (uncredited)
Bill Lovett ... Townsman (uncredited)
Boyd 'Red' Morgan ... Townsman (uncredited)
Harold Jacob Smith ... Prison Truck Driver (uncredited)
Nedrick Young ... Prison Guard in Truck (uncredited)

Directed by
Stanley Kramer 
Writing credits
Nedrick Young (written by) originally as Nathan E. Douglas

Harold Jacob Smith (written by)

Produced by
Stanley Kramer .... producer
Original Music by
Ernest Gold 
Cinematography by
Sam Leavitt (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Frederic Knudtson (film editor)
Production Design by
Rudolph Sternad 
Art Direction by
Fernando Carrere 
Set Decoration by
Joseph Kish  (as Joe Kish)
Makeup Department
Don L. Cash .... makeup (as Don Cash)
Production Management
Clem Beauchamp .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Paul Helmick .... assistant director
Art Department
Art Cole .... property master
Sound Department
Walter Elliott .... sound effects
Jean L. Speak .... sound engineer (as James Speak)
Wayne Fury .... sound editor (uncredited)
John Mick .... sound editor (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Alex Weldon .... special effects
Ivan Dixon .... stunt double: Sidney Poitier (uncredited)
Robert F. Hoy .... stunt double: Tony Curtis (uncredited)
Boyd 'Red' Morgan .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
James Almond .... chief gaffer
Albert Myers .... camera operator (as Al Myers)
Morris Rosen .... company grip
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Joe King .... costume supervisor
Music Department
Jack Marshall .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
John Franco .... script supervisor
Stanley Kramer .... presenter
Cindy James .... dog trainer (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
96 min (Turner library print) (copyright length)
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Did You Know?

Despite the mutual admiration and camaraderie among the cast and crew, the film wasn't necessarily a breeze to shoot. It was physically exhausting for Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier, who had to run through fields, swamps, and woods and fight each other barefisted, all while being chained together. There was also the famous climactic run for the train. Most gruelling of all were the scenes where the two chained men are swept down the rapids of a river and their desperate attempt to climb out of a deep clay pit during a rainstorm. Curtis said there were no doubles for the clay pit scene, which he deemed the hardest sequence in the film. He also said he had a stunt double for some of the water scenes while Poitier had a dummy as a stand-in for at least one shot. However, most of the gruelling stunt work was done by the two stars themselves.See more »
Continuity: Twice they are soaked to the skin in water and mud, but come up with dry cigarettes and matches.See more »
Noah Cullen:I ain't gettin' mad, Joker. I been mad all my natural life.See more »
Long GoneSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
15 out of 16 people found the following review useful.
Cellmates and Soulmates, 8 August 2007
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

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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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Defiant Ones (1958)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Lon Chaney Jr.... rokrox
Similar 80's movie jdoane2
Who would you pick to star in a remake? glassblowersarse
Elvis Presley wanted Tony Curtis' role, could he have pulled it off ?? gullwing592003
Modern Movie that was a remake of this?? *possible SPOILERS* sumankey13
What year is this supposed to take place in? AnnetteJS
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