The Defiant Ones is best known for its central premise: a black man and white man, chained together and on the lam, must overcome their own prejudices and help each other survive. The racial metaphor is obvious but important nonetheless, seeing as the film was released early in the civil rights movement. The quality performances of Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis help the film avoid mere political posturing. After the success of Blackboard Jungle, Poitier was on the cusp of becoming the first major African-American star in movie history. Also in a career upswing, Curtis was hot on the heels of The Sweet Smell of Success; he and Poitier would receive Academy Award nominations for The Defiant Ones. This was longtime producer Stanley Kramer's first success as a director, it would usher in his string of '60s hits, including Inherit the Wind, Judgement at Nuremberg and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Kramer previously produced one of the first white-made films featuring a black lead performer, 1949's little-known Home of the Brave.