The Defiant Ones. 1958. USA. Directed by Stanley Kramer. Screenplay by Harold Jacob Smith, Nedrick Young. With Sidney Poitier, Tony Curtis, Theodore Bikel, Charles McGraw. 35mm. 96 min.
Curtis and costar Sidney Poitier earned Oscar nominations for Stanley Kramer’s 1958 allegory of race relations in America, playing prisoners who escape from a chain gang while shackled together and must learn to overcome their prejudices and resentments while on the run through a segregated South. Though blunt and naïve in many ways, the film captured the zeitgeist of a 1950s America awakening to the civil rights movement. “A remarkably apt and dramatic visualization of a social idea—the idea of men of different races brought together to face misfortune in a bond of brotherhood” (Bosley Crowther, The New York Times).