We looked around, and hey, September is upon us, yet summer is still burning bright. August was a great month for the return of the TFC screenings, and now we can get onto the September choices. We are screening Stanley Kramer’s THE DEFIANT ONES (1958) this Friday, and now that the Labor Day weekend is over, we can have our two screenings. Kramer started working in Hollywood in the late 30’s, and became mostly a very successful producer. DEFIANT ONES was only his third film as a director. Other films of his I would recommend include, NOT AS A STRANGER (1955), THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION (1957), ON THE BEACH (1959), INHERIT THE WIND (1960), JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG (1961), and GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967). He was very proud of the fact that he had directed Spencer Tracy in four films.
Stanley Kramer: “Sidney Poitier has a greatness, a professionalism, and a deep, deep sensitivity. He is an absolutely beautiful man, inside and out.”
Trivia: Ivan Dixon was a stand in for Sidney Poitier. Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer had a small role in the film; his last before he died. Robert Mitchum, who had spent some real time on a Southern chain gang, refused the part of Jackson, primarily because he felt strongly that blacks and whites would never have been chained together in the segregated South. Later, others claimed that he turned down the part because he did not want to work with a black man. Tony Curtis insisted that Sidney Poitier’s name be with his above the title. Elvis Presley wanted the part of Jackson, hoping to co-star with Sammy Davis, Jr., who had been considered for Cullen, but Colonel Parker talked Elvis out of it; it was 1958 after all. Stanley Kramer originally hoped to get Marlon Brando to play Jackson, to team with Poitier; what a film that would have been.
VARIETY: “the performances of Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier are virtually flawless.”
THE DEFIANT ONES (1958)
Directed by Stanley Kramer @ 97 minutes.
The film stars Sidney Poitier, Tony Curtis, Theodore Bikel, Lon Chaney Jr., Charles McGraw, and Cara Williams.
Synopsis: A white man and a black man, chained together, escape from a Southern work gang. Relentlessly pursued, they have to set aside their differences in order to survive, and for any hope of complete escape.
“A raw powerful film that is as exciting as it is moving, real and literate.” VARIETY.
The film won two Oscars: Best Cinematography, and Best Original Screenplay, but was nominated for six more, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (nominating both Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier), Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress.
Tagline: “They couldn’t like each other less. They couldn’t need each other more.”
Bosley Crowther, film critic for The New York Times, lauded the production and the acting in the film, writing, “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.”
The Defiant Ones was remade several times:
▪ Homage is paid to the film in the 1992 Quantum Leap episode “Unchained”. Protagonist Sam Beckett lands in the body of a white Mississippi road gang worker chained to a wrongly convicted black man, and the two must escape together or be murdered by the corrupt warden.
So be sure to join us this Friday, September 9, 2011, to watch THE DEFIANT ONES; a classic film that fashioned a genre. We are screening it at 924 Broadway, in the Pythian Temple, at street level, across from Theater on the Square, in the heart of Tacoma’s theater district. Come early and enjoy the fellowship of others before the film starts, and have a terrific meal prepared by the Phantom Director and Farishta. There will be a giveaway of a DVD from my personal collection. Food will be served at 6:15 p.m., and the film will screen at 7:15 p.m. The movie runs 97 minutes, so things should conclude before 9:30 p.m. See you at the movies!