The Defiant Ones
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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… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Kramer was never much of a director, but there's still power in some of the performances, especially Poitier's."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"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."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"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."
‑ , Film4
‑ Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
"With two superb performances and palpable tension, the film has a strength that rises above the simplicity of the storyline."
‑ Steve Rhodes, Internet Reviews
"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."
‑ Melissa Anderson, Time Out
"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."
‑ Christopher Lloyd, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
"This was the film that established Poitier as a star."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"It's not high art, but it is a well-made, well-rounded movie."
‑ Marty Mapes, Movie Habit
"It is nervous and suspenseful from the start."
‑ Bosley Crowther, New York Times
"It becomes shackled with its heavy-handed liberal message."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"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."
‑ Mike DeWolfe, Apollo Guide
"Poitier and Curtis are great. Whoever thinks Curtis is just a pretty face should see his gripping performance."
‑ Bob Bloom, Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
More reviews for The Defiant Ones on Rotten Tomatoes