The Defiant Ones (1958)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB

USA, 1958.  Curtleigh Productions, Stanley Kramer Productions.  Screenplay by , .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Stanley Kramer.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

After the police bus transporting them to prison suffers an accident, two prisoners chained together at the foot (Tony Curtis, Sidney Poitier) run away to the woods toward freedom. Separated by their mutual hatred of each other, they end up having to work together in order to achieve their goal of not getting caught again. Eventually they develop a bond, but it is put to the test by a widow (Cara Williams) living on a farm alone with her young son. This intelligent, socially-minded drama by Stanley Kramer succeeds as his best blend of message and entertainment. It never sledgehammers you over the head with its themes, nor does it insult your intelligence by having the two protagonists become the best of friends in a lightning-speed amount of time.  Curtis and Poitier are both riveting, with excellent supporting performances by Williams and Theodore Bikel as the humane sheriff on their trail.

Academy Awards:  Best Original Story and Screenplay; Best Cinematography-BW
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Tony Curtis); Best Actor (Sidney Poitier); Best Supporting Actor (Theodore Bikel); Best Supporting Actress (Cara Williams); Best Director (Stanley Kramer); Best Film Editing

Berlin Film Festival Award: Best Actor (Sidney Poitier)

Golden Globe Award:  Best Picture-Drama
Nominations: Best Actor-Drama (Tony Curtis); Best Actor-Drama (Sidney Poitier); Best Supporting Actress (Cara Williams); Best Director (Stanley Kramer); Best Film Promoting International Understanding


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