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HARVEY'S HOLLYWOOD: 'The Defiant Ones' Film Has A Significant Back Lot Story Within Itse

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, California — The 1958 film, The Defiant Ones, is not a reflection of the racial tensions occurring today in the early part of the 21st century between Black America and law enforcement. Practically, nowhere near consideration.

But the film, that stars Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier, does spin a yarn of how two men, one Black, the other White, have to throw away their differences, when forced to, in order to survive. If one man fails, they both fail. If one man succeeds, they both succeed.

Director Stanley Kramer somehow was able to spew out all the ugliness of American racism, as much as Hollywood would allow him, to produce a film that was released during a time when the civil rights movement was picking up steam. Kramer did it with two convicts in the deep south.

The Defiant Ones is a splendid examination of how defiance overcomes racism and social injustice in 137, brutal minutes on a budget of $778,000. Curtis raised a bulk of the funds to get the film completed.



Actor Tony Curtis (June 3, 1925 - Sept. 29, 2010) wasn’t the first choice to star in The Defiant Ones. But at the end of filming, Bernard Schwartz, his birth name, let the director Stanley Kramer know that he played the role Joe “Joker” Jackson to the hilt.

Published July 26, 2016

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