The Defiant Ones (1958)
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No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...
In this film, convicts Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier escape from a chain gang. Curtis hates blacks, Poitier hates whites. But the men are manacled together, so they are forced to rely on each other to survive. While struggling to gain their freedom, the two become friends.
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Critic Reviews for The Defiant Ones
Kramer was never much of a director, but there's still power in some of the performances, especially Poitier's.
The suspense of the manhunt in the swamps never really overcomes the dead weight of Kramer's 'message', but pleasures are to be found in the supporting roles of McGraw and Chaney.
Boasting strong performances from Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis, this interracial drama of two escaped convicts is Stanley Kramer's most satisfying film, deservedly nominated for and winning Oscars.
Tony Curtis' acting is borderline awful. His famous Bronx accent bleeds through his faux Southern one like a bloody shirt, and he continually grits his teeth in a failed attempt to show the character's self-loathing.
Although an advance on Hollywood's usual treatment of racial themes, the script is too message-laden and the direction (by do-gooder Kramer) too single-minded and naively optimistic to really work.
Given the era of this movie, it was a controversial topic and a theme that Kramer handles courageously. He does a good job of showcasing Poitier and Curtis in their prime and the film's Oscar-winning cinematography is crisp and outstanding.
Poitier and Curtis are great. Whoever thinks Curtis is just a pretty face should see his gripping performance.
Audience Reviews for The Defiant Ones
Everyone should have a life-changing event like this. Consider a pre-civil rights era when blacks and whites were supposed to hate each other. This pair are shackled to each other for days and have no choice but to depend on each other for either one of you to survive. It is worth seeing.More
Whilst I cringe my way through the prejudice of history, beneath their lies a film of opportunity and comradery.
I couldn't help being reminded through the film of later films that perhapsmay have been influenced by this film; The Fugitive and O'Brother where art thou?
A worthy classic.
Two convicts, one black and one white, escape from a chain gang in the deep south and find they have more in common than they first thought. Having a racist and a black man chained together and having to co-operate to evade their captors is hardly a subtle allegory for racial tension but thanks to some intelligent writing and good dialogue The Defiant Ones makes for a far more interesting story about breaking down the barriers between creeds and colours than the usual heavy handed touchy-feely nonsense you'd expect from Hollywood. The characters feel a lot more genuine than the usual racial stereotypes; if it were made today, it would no doubt have Curtis' character as a pantomime villain and Denzel as some kind of behaloed, saintly innocent man who consistently turns the other cheek. Instead we have two men who've both had the sh*t end of the stick, Curtis' racism a product of his failure to question an unjust system and Poitier is a proud and angry man who is tired of never being given an even shake. The two of course have to put their differences aside to struggle together against capture and the plot and character development doesn't feel 100% convincing as it seems to exist to help get the message across rather than create believable drama. The use of music is also very odd, the pursuers having some kind of jazz swing theme tune every time they appear on screen and Poitier's singing voice is..."different". The two have real chemistry together though, and this well intentioned and tensely paced film has stood the test of time rather well.More
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