For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!
In the Heat of the Night is a 1967 dramatic mystery film directed by Norman Jewison. It tells the story of Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier), a black police detective from Philadelphia, who becomes involved in a murder investigation in a racist small town in Mississippi. The local police blame him at first for the murder because of the color of his skin and his close proximity to the victim and the fact that he was waiting at a train station when they found him. It comes to light that he is innocent- and is in fact a police detective specializing in homicides. His boss wants him to stay in town and help out, and even though it’s dangerous since the townsfolk are deeply prejudice he agrees. It was good he stayed since he’s the only reasonable person – other than the wife of the victim- and wouldn’t stop until he found the person who committed the crime, even though he was the victim of hatred and the several physical attacks. Despite their rocky relationship, Mr. Tibbs and the chief of the local police, Bill Gillespie learn to work with one another and at the end depart ways respectful of one another.
It stars Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, and Warren Oates, all of whom give incredible performances. It’s a hard and uncomfortable movie to watch because of the pure hatred that’s portrayed- but that was the racial climate at the time. I believe that this movie still has lessons to teach in 2013 and is a very well made movie that holds up to today’s standards.
In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns: