The Defiant Ones
Walk a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes (with these 6 movies)
gettyimages-1205135560-h 2020

Stephanie Allain

Producer

Film has the unique power to change hearts and minds, through placing the viewer in situations that challenge assumptions and biases. When making this list, I thought of films that had a profound effect on me. Humanistic stories that strip away our armor and shine a spotlight on our similarities rather than our differences allow the viewer to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes - if only for a couple hours. Sometimes that’s enough to make a difference.

1

Boyz n the Hood

1991

WHERE TO WATCH

Writer/director John Singleton’s first film gives viewers a chance to experience what it’s like to be a young man in South Central LA circa 1990. The authentic depiction humanized what headlines could not: Black kids have hopes and dreams that are oftentimes dashed by senseless violence. It shines a spotlight on the power of a strong parental voice to help steer them in the right direction.

WHERE TO WATCH
Boyz n the Hood
1991
112 Mins | R
Three boys become men, one guided by his father, in their racially divided Los Angeles neighborhood.


2

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

1967

WHERE TO WATCH

Directed by Stanley Kramer, this interracial drama pits the charming Sidney Poitier against a formidable Spencer Tracy in his final role. Way before its time, it’s a smart, moving exploration of race where two families must confront their own prejudice.

WHERE TO WATCH
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
1967
108 Mins | PG
White liberals face their own latent racism when their daughter introduces them to her black fiance.


3

The Defiant Ones

1986

WHERE TO WATCH

Stanley Kramer directed this beautifully shot black-and-white film about two escaped prisoners played by Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis who are shackled together and forced to work cooperatively in order to survive, an apt metaphor for today.

WHERE TO WATCH
The Defiant Ones
1986
100 Mins | TVPG
Two men (Robert Urich, Carl Weathers) escape from chain gang chained together.


4

Something New

2006

WHERE TO WATCH

Sanaa Hamri’s directorial debut explores an interracial relationship where Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker’s characters find ways to navigate traditional black family expectations as they fall in love.

WHERE TO WATCH
Something New
2006
100 Mins | PG-13
A black woman (Sanaa Lathan) develops a budding romance with a white man (Simon Baker).


5

Dear White People

2014

WHERE TO WATCH

Written and directed by Justin Simien, Dear White People explores Black students navigating a mostly white campus. Striking for its diversity amongst Black characters, Justin’s pithy dialogue smartly captures what it feels like being a black face in a white space.

WHERE TO WATCH
Dear White People
2014
106 Mins | R
The new head of a traditionally black residence hall tries to prevent her dorm's diversification.


6

Do the Right Thing

1989

WHERE TO WATCH

Writer/director Spike Lee’s film captures how little things have changed. Powerful and unflinching, he puts us right in the mix and makes us feel tension so thick, it has to erupt.

WHERE TO WATCH
Do the Right Thing
1989
120 Mins | R
A race riot starts at Sal's (Danny Aiello) pizza parlor on a hot day in Brooklyn.


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