The Defiant Ones

“They’ll probably kill each other in the first five miles.”

Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis are prisoners on the run, lashed together by shackles and racial-tinged hatred.

Desperate to stay one step ahead of the braying dogs, and gun-packing cops, hot on their heels, the duo learn life lessons along the way, becoming better men.

Now, that sounds a tad preachy, and director Stanley Kramer was a big one for “message” movies, but the film roars with life thanks to the performances of its cast.

Poitier, in particular, is aces as a man who has reached his breaking point.

Cool Hand Luke

“Some men you just can’t reach.”

That’s the sentence which follows right after the film’s most-famous line, as sneering prison warden Strother Martin complains about a failure to communicate.

No matter how many beatings, or how many “man-to-man talks” the warden has with Luke, the good ol’ boy convict played by Paul Newman, the duo are never going to come to an understanding.

Both men know it, and their feud simmers under the blazing heat, as one man refuses to be broken, and another refuses to stop trying.

You might break Luke’s body, but you’ll never touch his soul.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

George Clooney makes a great idiot.

The man was born to be a matinee idol, a modern-day Cary Grant, but he’s never better than when he throws vanity away while working for the Coen Brothers.

As Ulysses Everett McGill, self-avowed leader of a trio running from a chain gang, Clooney does it all.

Wailing “I am a Man of Constant Sorrow” while wiggling a fake beard, trying (and failing badly) to jump a moving train, or getting tossed from a store after losing a fight (“And stay out o’ the Woolsworth!!”), he’s pure moronic perfection.

No one does it better.