The Defiant Ones (1958) - Plot Summary Poster


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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.

  • After the truck transporting them is sideswiped and run off the road in a heavy rainstorm two convicts, John 'Joker' Jackson - who is white - and Noah Cullen - who is black, go on the run. They hate each other but being chained together forces them to cooperate. Their goal is to travel 60 miles north where Noah once worked and catch a train that he hopes is still running that route. While the local Sheriff tries to apprehend them - in spite of a well-meaning but somewhat rules driven and humorless State police captain - Joker and Noah develop an odd friendship and a degree of loyalty that would not be expected given their circumstances.

  • In 1950s America, members of a chain gang are being transported through the South when their truck crashes. Two of the convicts, John "Joker" Jackson and Noah Cullen, who are chained together, find an opportunity to escape. Jackson is white, Cullen is black and, at first, the men appear to be opposites in every way. But as they flee across the country, the two form a deep bond. A female landowner leads Jackson to make a difficult decision about his own freedom.

  • A prison truck is transporting a group of convicts when it runs off the road and crashes. Two convicts escape - Johnny (Tony Curtis), a white man, and Cullen (Sydney Poitier), a black man. They loathe each other, especially as Johnny is an ignorant racist. However, they are chained together and have to rely on each other to escape and survive. Meanwhile, the State Police plus the local Sheriff and a ragtag bunch of deputies, assisted by tracker dogs, are hot on their trail.

  • Joker Jackson and Noah Cullen are two convicts on a chain gang who hate each other. After a truck prison accident, they flee and are pursued by the police. While they're chained, the two are dependent on one another. When they eventually get rid of their chains, their hostility has been changed into fellowship and respect.

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


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