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In the Heat of the Night (1967)

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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 39,810 users  
Reviews: 146 user | 74 critic

An African American police detective is asked to investigate a murder in a racially hostile southern town.

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(screenplay), (based on a novel by)
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Title: In the Heat of the Night (1967)

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Won 5 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Mrs. Colbert
Larry Gates ...
Endicott
James Patterson ...
Mr. Purdy
...
Mayor Schubert
...
Mama Caleba
Peter Whitney ...
Courtney
Kermit Murdock ...
Henderson
Larry D. Mann ...
Watkins
...
Packy
...
Ulam
Fred Stewart ...
Dr. Stuart
Quentin Dean ...
Delores
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Storyline

Detective Virgil Tibbs is caught up in the racial tension of the US South when he is arrested after the murder of a prominent businessman. Tibbs was simply waiting for his next train at the station in Sparta, Mississippi and the confusion is soon resolved but when local police chief Gillespie learns that Tibbs is the Philadelphia PD's number one homicide expert, he reluctantly asks for his assistance. The murdered man, Mr. Colbert, had come to Sparta from the North to build a new factory and his wife and business associates immediately point the finger at Endicott, the most powerful man in the county and the one who had the most to lose if a major new employer comes to the area. Tibbs' life is clearly in danger but he perseveres in a highly charged and racially explosive environment until the killer is found. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They got a murder on their hands . . . they don't know what to do with it. See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 October 1967 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

In the Heat of the Night  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Sound)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sidney Poitier insisted that the movie be filmed in the north because an incident in which he and Harry Belafonte were almost killed by Ku Klux Klansman during a visit to Mississippi. Hence the selection of Sparta, Illinois for the location filming. Nevertheless, the filmmakers and actors did venture briefly into Tennessee for the outdoor scenes at the cotton plantation, because there was no similar cotton plantation in Illinois that could be used. Poitier slept with a gun under his pillow during production in Tennessee. Poitier did receive threats from local racist thugs so the shoot was cut short and production returned to Illinois. See more »

Goofs

At the start of the film as Saw Woods pulls away from the diner, you can see a car radio antenna on the right front fender of the patrol car. Yet Sam has a transistor radio hanging from the rearview mirror. Why would he need that if the car already has a radio? The tall antenna on the left rear fender is for the police two-way radio. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Ofcr. Sam Wood: Where you keeping the pie tonight?
Ralph Henshaw, diner counterman: I ate the last piece just before you came in.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 53rd Annual Academy Awards (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Foul Owl on the Prowl
(uncredited)
Music by Quincy Jones
Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Performed by Owens Boomer Castleman and Michael Martin Murphey
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
The Growing Pains of the New South
11 May 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

In order to understand what's happening in In the Heat of the Night you have to realize that it is set in a very specific time period. The Civil Rights Act had been passed in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. But the impact of those laws was only beginning to be felt.

Especially the Voting Rights Act. The town of Sparta, Mississippi where William Schallert was Mayor and Rod Steiger was sheriff now has a significant new voting population and blacks might be a majority in that county. But even if they aren't, they know have a voice in the electoral process. Someone like Steiger has to take that into account now. Of course some of his deputies might not yet be with the program which explains why when a murder/robbery is committed of a very prominent northern businessman, Warren Oates sees fit to roust Sidney Poitier who's an unfamiliar black face in that town.

What a surprise they all get when they find out he's a top Philadelphia, Pennsylvania homicide detective and when his identity is established, his boss in Philly offers his services.

Poitier and Steiger both have to work through their prejudices, how each sees the other to solve this mystery which writer Stirling Silliphant gives us several red herrings before we learn the truth. Though Steiger got the Oscar for Best Actor, it should really have been a joint award. Their conflict and growing respect for each other drives the film. Steiger needs his expertise and respects him for that and Poitier comes to respect Steiger for his honesty.

Norman Jewison got great performances from his stars and the supporting cast of whom Warren Oates as the dimwit redneck deputy really shines.

Though set in a very narrow period of our history, In the Heat of the Night holds up very well with some eternal truths in its story. And it's the story of times that were a changing as one spokesman of the sixties put it.


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