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Defiant Ones

Defiant Ones

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Defiant Ones, Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier, white and black, play escaped convicts, chained together, who are trying to make their escape without killing one another. This is certainly one of the greatest films ever made and it hasn’t lost any power in the fifty-years since it has been made. This is an incredibly powerful film and it speaks very highly that it would still remain so powerful even though the racial tensions of today aren’t nearly the same as in 1958. I’ve seen this film countless times over the years but it keeps getting better with each new viewing and I think I fall in love with something different with each new viewing, which is the sign of a true classic. There were a lot of racial movies made during this period and thankfully the majority of them, including this one, doesn’t try preaching to the crowd. Instead, they simply tell their story and let the viewer see the injustice or issues going on. The film won an Oscar for its screenplay, which it certainly deserved because if the dialogue had been boring then there wouldn’t have been a film. The dialogue is so powerful and intense and again, thankfully it never becomes preachy. The performances by Curtis and Poitier are terrific and I certainly think this is the greatest work done by Curtis. The way these two men shape their characters is truly breathtaking to watch and both actors make these among the most memorable characters from any film ever made. The supporting cast also gets a lot of terrific performances including Theodore Bikel, Charles McGraw and Cara Williams. A special note should also go out to Lon Chaney, Jr. who was usually being wasted in Z productions but here gets a great role and does wonders with it. There’s always a debate on what makes a film a classic and I think all of the ingredients can be found in this masterpiece.

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