"The Defiant Ones" Is Released
The Defiant Ones (1958) is a film which tells the story of two escaped prisoners who are shackled together, one white and one black, who must co-operate in order to survive.
It stars Tony Curtis, Sidney Poitier, Theodore Bikel, Cara Williams, Charles McGraw, and Lon Chaney Jr.
The movie was adapted by Harold Jacob Smith from the story by Nedrick Young, originally credited as Nathan E. Douglas. It was directed by Stanley Kramer.
It won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen, and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tony Curtis), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sidney Poitier), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Theodore Bikel), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Cara Williams), Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Picture.
Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, of the Our Gang comedies, has a small role. It was his last before his death.
Convicts Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier escape from a chain gang. Curtis' character, John "Joker" Jackson, hates blacks, while Poitier's character, Noah Cullen, hates whites. However, the men are manacled together, forced to rely on each other to survive. Captured at one point by a lynch-happy mob, the convicts are rescued by Big Sam (Lon Chaney Jr.), himself a former convict. The men are later sheltered by a lonely, love-hungry widow played by Cara Williams, who offers to turn in Cullen if Joker will stay with her. By the time the two men are within hailing distance of a train that might take them to freedom, they have become friends. The script for The Defiant Ones is credited to Harold Jacob Smith and Nathan E. Douglas. The latter was really Nedrick Young, a blacklisted writer, whom producer Stanley Kramer hired knowing full well that Young was using an alias (when "Douglas"' credit appears onscreen, it is superimposed over a close-up of a truck driver -- played by Nedrick Young). Both the script and the photography by Sam Leavitt won Academy Awards. If you look closely, you'll notice that the actor playing Angus is former Little Rascal Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, making his last screen appearance. The Defiant Ones was remade for TV in 1986, with Robert Urich and Carl Weathers in the leads. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide