Defiant Ones, The (1958)

The Defiant Ones The Defiant OnesThe Defiant Ones The Defiant Ones The Defiant Ones

In Stanley Kramer’s best film, “The Defiant One,” two escaped convicts, one white (Tony Curtis), the other black (Sidney Poitier), make an odyssey toward freedom in the Deep South.  It’s a journey that’s both physical and literal and figurative.

Chained to each other, the relationship between the vastly diverse men gradually changes from initially deep hatred and suspicious animosity to trustable partnership to ultimately genuine camaraderie.

Their flight is replete with obstacles.  In its course, the duo encounter a vicious lynching mob, but are saved by Big Sam (Lon Chaney), an upright and fearless man who stands up against the mob.

The film contrasts sheriff Max Muller (Theodore Bikel), a human sheriff with a streak of justice, and the brutish state policeman, who is motivated by vengeance and punishment; he wants to use his hunting dogs in the chase because to him the captives are like dogs themselves.  Sheriff Muller has to remind the policeman that their job is to capture, not to execute, the convicts, and that they are there as representatives of the law.

Oscar Nominations: 9

Picture, produced by Stanley Kramer

Director: Stanley Kramer

Actor: Tonny Curtis

Actor: Sidney Poitier

Supporting Actor: Theodore Bikel

Supporting Actress: Cara Williams

Story and Screenplay (Original): Nedrick Young and Harold Jacob Smith

Cinematography (b/w): Sam Leavitt

Editing: Frederick Knudson

Oscar Awards: 2

Story and Screenplay



John Jackson (Tony Curtis)

Noah Cullen (Sidney Poitier)

Sheriff Max Muller (Theodore Bikel)

Captain Frank Gibbons (Charles McGraw)

Big Sam (Lon Chaney Jr.)

Solly (King Donovan)

Mac (Claude Akins)

Editor (Lawrence Dobkin)

Lou Gans (Whit Bissell)

The Woman (Cara Williams)



Running time: 97 Minutes






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