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Needing the One You Hate: Frenemies from Casablanca to The Eagle

Posted January 07, 2011 to photo album "Needing the One You Hate: Frenemies from Casablanca to The Eagle"

Esca, the Celtic Slave, and Aquila, the Roman master, may appear an unlikely team in The Eagle, but the plot of enemies turned friends is a classic cinematic trope.

Slide 1: Roman/Celt
Slide 2: Apolitical/Collaborator | Casablanca (1942)
Slide 3: The Heiress/the Reporter | It Happened One Night (1934)
Slide 4: Sober/Drunk | The African Queen (1951)
Slide 5: Black/White | The Defiant Ones (1958)
Slide 6: Old/Young | True Grit (1969)
Slide 7: Cop/Crook | 48 Hours (1982)
Slide 8: Prisoner/Keeper | Midnight Run (1988)
Slide 9: Hippie/Straight Dude | Flashback (1990)
Slide 10: Finn/Russian | The Cuckoo (2002)
Slide 11: Old Man/Korean Kid | Gran Torino (2008)
Slide 5: Black/White | The Defiant Ones (1958)

Slide 5: Black/White | The Defiant Ones (1958)

The dominant image of Stanley Kramer's movie The Defiant Ones is of Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis running while handcuffed together. It's an emblematic image from this highly symbolic movie about two prisoners in the American South––African-American Noah Cullen (Poitier) and white racist John “Joker” Jackson (Curtis)––who escape from a chain gang and must work together to keep their freedom and their lives. Through their shared struggle, they learn to overcome their initial hatred and distrust of one another, and ultimately find a brotherly solidarity. When a woman they meet sends Poitier's Noah off towards a swamp and inevitable death, “Joker” opts to risk his newly won freedom in order to save the man towards whom he so recently felt only disdain and enmity. In his New York Times review, Bosley Crowther wrote that Kramer's movie was a “candid presentment of racial conflict and resentment between Negroes and whites [that] rips right into the subject with clawing ferocity and flails it about with merciless fury until all the viciousness in conflict is spent. ...As his fugitives pause for brief recovery after perilous fording of streams, racing across open country or hairbreadth escape from a mob, he has them slash at each other with bitter accusations that reveal with startling illumination their complete commonality. In the end, it is clear that they are brothers, stripped of all vulgar bigotry.”