The Defiant Ones (1958)

DailyView: Day 108, Movie 181

Today’s DailyView heads back into the 1950s in a black and white movie dealing with black and white racial issues with the Oscar winning movie, The Defiant Ones.

In The Defiant Ones, two criminals, John “Joker” Jackson (Tony Curtis),a white man, and Noah Cullen (Sidney Poitier), a black man, who were on a chain gang and chained together by their arms, escaped when the truck that was transporting them crashed. As they started their flight, the two men hated each other, but as they struggled to survive, they gained a mutual respect.

The dialogue is some of the best in The Defiant Ones. It does a great job of showing these two men and their developing friendship across the racial divide.

One of the best characters in the film is the kind sheriff who was pursuing the runaways, Sheriff Max Muller (Theodore Bikel) who doggedly chased them, insisting on doing things the right way.

However, the movie depends on the the two lead actors to carry the load and Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier come through big time. Both men received well deserved Oscar nominations as Lead Actor for this performance. Poitier became the first African-American actor to be nominated in the Lead Actor category.

A simple premise leads to a deeper story. A classic movie with big time performances.

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