The Defiant Ones (1958)

The Defiant Ones
Curtis and Poitier

'The Defiant Ones' is an exciting adventure movie made in 1958, directed by Stanley Kramer and starring Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis, with Theodore Bikel, Cara Williams, Charles McGraw, and Lon Chaney, Jr.. It tells the story of two prisoners, one a white racist and one black, who escape, handcuffed together, and who must learn to co-operate in order to survive. The movie features a memorable final scene when the black prisoner sacrifices his own freedom to stay with the white prisoner who has now become his friend and comrade.

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The movie's theme of racial co-operation was daring for its time. It was successful on release both commercially and critically and has since come to be regarded as a classic. It received eight Academy Award nominations and won two - for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay.

The acting is first class throughout with brilliant performances from Poitier and Curtis and fine support from the rest of the cast.

Main Cast

Tony Curtis ... John "Joker" Jackson
Sidney Poitier ... Noah Cullen
Theodore Bikel ... Sheriff Max Muller
Charles McGraw ... Captain Frank Gibbons
Lon Chaney, Jr. ... Big Sam
King Donovan ... Solly
Claude Akins ... Mack
Lawrence Dobkin ... Editor
Whit Bissell ... Lou Gans
Carl Switzer ... Angus
Kevin Coughlin ... Billy
Cara Williams ... Billy's mother


Director ... Stanley Kramer
Producer ... Stanley Kramer
Production Company ... Curtleigh Productions
Screenplay ... Nathan E. Douglas, Harold Jacob Smith
Cinemtography ... Sam Leavitt
Music ... Ernest Gold, William C. Handy
Distributed by United Artists
Release date ... 27 September 1958
Running time ... 97 minutes

Academy Awards

Two Wins:
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White ... Sam Leavitt
Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen ... Nathan E. Douglas (pseudonym of Nedrick Young ), Harold Jacob Smith
Seven Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Picture ... Stanley Kramer
Best Director ... Stanley Kramer
Best Actor ... Tony Curtis
Best Actor ... Sidney Poitier
Best Supporting Actor ... Theodore Bikel
Best Supporting Actress ... Cara Williams
Best Film Editing ... Frederic Knudtson