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The Defiant Ones
Buy the DVD  Barnes &
Length:1 Hour 36 Minutes
Cast:Stanley Kramer, Tony Curtis, Sidney Poitier, Theodore Bikel

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. Captured at one point by a lynch-happy mob, the convicts are rescued by Lon Chaney Jr., himself a former convict. The men are later sheltered by lonely, love-hungry widow Cara Williams, who offers to turn in Poitier if Curtis 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. Poitier jumps on the moving train, but Curtis can't make it. In a moment that frequently invoked boos and catcalls from black audiences, Poitier sacrifices his own freedom to help Curtis. 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's" credit appears on screen, 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. Though The Defiant Ones was just fine as it stood, somebody had the notion to remake it for TV in 1986, with Robert Urich and Carl Weathers in the leads. Accept no substitutes. Hal Erickson

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