In the Heat of the Night

They got a murder on their hands. They don’t know what to do with it.

Crime Drama Mystery
109 min     7.669     1967     USA


African-American Philadelphia police detective Virgil Tibbs is arrested on suspicion of murder by Bill Gillespie, the racist police chief of tiny Sparta, Mississippi. After Tibbs proves not only his own innocence but that of another man, he joins forces with Gillespie to track down the real killer. Their investigation takes them through every social level of the town, with Tibbs making enemies as well as unlikely friends as he hunts for the truth.


GenerationofSwine wrote:
I have a love/hate thing for how this ended. It looked good but it was too dark... visually. I think they were going for a source lighting thing and failed a bit. It was realistically dark but not Hollywood viewer in mind dark. Anyway the bad is out of the way, the good is the performance, it was really Oscar worthy in the truest sense, and the evolution of both the lead character and the supporting cast right down to the town around him was legendary. Subtle, but legendary. It even had a sense of humor, little jokes in it that were probably added to break the tension, but added in a way that you have to look for them so it doesn't break. Start to finish it is brilliant.
CinemaSerf wrote:
Warren Oates ("Wood") steps from his patrol car in the quiet town of Sparta and discovers the body of "Colbert" - a controversial local employer. Shortly afterwards he discovers "TIbbs" (Sidney Poitier) sitting waiting for the 4.05 train. He is black and there is a wealthy white murder victim on the street - ergo, two and two... Next thing, though, the police chief "Gillespie" (Rod Steiger) is interrogating their visitor and discovers that he is an accomplished homicide detective. Initially inclined to just send him on his way, "Gillespie" decides - with a bit of persuasion from the widow (Lee Grant) that it might make sense for "Tibbs" to do some of the investigating himself. Backs up, heckles raised, the white supremacists are outraged and astonished in equal measure as the police allow him to follow his nose and to uncover some rather nasty little home truths about their community and the people who dwell within. On the face of it, it's about racial prejudice and perhaps, offers a rather simplistic get out solution. Or, maybe, it demonstrates that the best cure for ignorance is exposure to that which we loathe or don't understand and let behaviours and experience alter these views? There is room for both perspectives as we evaluate the police attitudes to this clever and slightly arrogant man who clearly considers himself to be as superior to them as they to him. Fifty-five years on, it's hard to appreciate just how profound this kind cinema was in alerting the US population to the bigotries in their own backyard, and Poitier always was a poised and measured actor when it came to making a point without shoving it down your throat! Steiger is also on good form here. He underplays his role, his character has flaws - sure - but as we progress there appears to be a willingness to mature and his performance manages that well. Small town life, small town mentality - with a racist, xenophobic, tinge. Well worth a watch.