The movie was adapted by Harold Jacob Smith from the story by Nedrick Young (originally as Nathan E. Douglas). It was directed by Stanley Kramer.
It won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen, and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Tony Curtis), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sidney Poitier), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Theodore Bikel), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Cara Williams), Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Picture.
Carl Alfalfa Switzer, of the "Our Gang" comedies, has a small role. It was his last before his death.
The Defiant Ones was remade several times: