Chained Together

The Defiant Ones defies social conventions of the time. The late great Sidney Poitier made history as the first black actor nominated for Best Actor. My mom has recommended many Poitier films, but I always knew I needed to see The Defiant Ones. The clever premise examines what happens when a black man and a white man are chained together in the deep South. The theme of racial tension is fitting for director Stanley Kramer. If not for Gigi, The Defiant Ones would’ve had the best chance of winning Best Picture or Best Director. Best Cinematography – Black-and-White was deserving for finding beauty in the Southern swamps.

Best Original Screenplay was deserving since the movie hinges on the complex relationship between both escaped prisoners. Poitier was nominated for Best Actor alongside Tony Curtis who knew they both deserved top-billing. The black Noah Cullen and white John โ€œJokerโ€ Jackson are equals who clash before and after their prison truck crashes. Their chain forces them to cooperate, but the more they stay together, the more they grow to respect each other. Only Poitier could pull off a believable interracial friendship in 1958. Though Curtis deserves just as much admiration for his commitment.

Theodore Bikel was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor as the Sheriff who tirelessly hunts them down with the aid of bloodhounds. This was the last movie role for Alfalfa actor Carl Switzer before his untimely death. Lon Chaney Jr. notably plays a townsperson who stops a lynch mob and lets the men escape. They eventually find a mother and son who finally help them break their chains. Cara Williams is the only woman in the movie who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress since she forms an unhealthy romance with Joker. Despite being free, it was heartwarming to see Cullen and Joker continue to help each other till the end. Cullen singing “Long Gone” is the greatest act of defiance. The Defiant Ones is a simple drama that’s been replicated, but never duplicated.

The Defiant Ones

Cullen carries Joker through the swamp

8 thoughts on “Chained Together

  1. I can see how this movie might have directly influenced modern prison break movies. My next montage might involve a prison break, and if so I will def need to watch this one. Thanks for reviewing. (Speaking of Joker).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve only ever seen part of this film, but I absolutely love the ending as while it’s bittersweet, it gave a lot of people hope for racial equality. Both men have their flaws, but being forced to rely on each other is what helped them to overcome each’s personal uncertainty. Tony Curtis was great as the bigot who slowly but surely sheds his prejudices as he gets to know his chain mate. Sydney Poitier is a fine actor and I believe was at his absolute best here.

    Liked by 1 person

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