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

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7.7/10   9,035 votes »
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Down 3% 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:
Covers A Lot Of Ground 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?

The young man with the transistor radio is played by Our Gang graduate Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer; this was Switzer's final screen appearance before his untimely death in a shooting incident.See more »
Continuity: Billy's hair style changes twice after he is pulled up from the ground: down in his face then neatly combed and parted to one side.See more »
Law officier:How come they chained a white man to a black?
Sheriff Max Muller:The warden's got a sense of humor.
See more »
Movie Connections:
References Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)See more »
Long GoneSee more »


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29 out of 31 people found the following review useful.
Covers A Lot Of Ground, 9 October 2006
Author: jonathon_naylor from Manitoba, Canada

This Stanley Kramer classic covers a lot of ground -- literally and figuratively. Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier are white and black inmates who, while chained together at the wrist, escape their captors when their prison truck hits the ditch. Now Curtis is forced to put aside his prejudice and work with his new partner in getting the cuffs off and ensuring their newfound freedom lasts.

As its reputation suggests, THE DEFIANT ONES is first and foremost a study of racism. It has a deliberate unpleasantness about it as it brings to life the unsavory attitudes of the past. A young boy who stumbles across the convicts races to the arms of Curtis for fear Poitier will hurt him. A lonely farm wife who takes the men in has to be told that yes, Poitier deserves a meal, too. And as the men face hanging at the hands of some rednecks, Curtis appeals to them on the grounds a white man can't be lynched. Yet the film carries no tired, moralistic messages, instead allowing the racism on display to speak for itself.

THE DEFIANT ONES goes well beyond its central theme. It's an exciting adventure, along the lines of THE FUGITIVE, as our anti-heroes elude their captors and try to survive in the unforgiving wilderness. It's a story of raw human emotions at work and of overcoming adversity by putting our trust in others. And it's a story of loyalty and the capacity of the human heart to change. We come away with the sense that the people involved with this picture knew they were part of something truly special.

Though he was given second billing, Poitier easily steals the show with his dignified performance. He brilliantly conveys the tortured, yet still upbeat soul of a young black man who came of age in a time of unimaginable difficulty. He often doesn't have to speak to let us know the pain he has and will continue to endure. Poitier proves that critics aren't just being kind when they cite him as one of the great black actors of his or any other era (though as we see here, he is definitely no singer!).

THE DEFIANT ONES moves just a touch slow at times, particularly when the focus is placed on Curtis. But this is a movie as important as it is worth watching.

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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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