In 1986, in the province of Gyunggi, in South Korea, a second young and beautiful woman is found dead, raped and tied and gagged with her underwear. Detective Park Doo-Man and Detective Cho... See full summary »
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
Virgil tibbs arrives in Sparta, and subsequently leaves town, via the old Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad (GM&O). This anchors the films setting in the deep south, and in Mississippi in particular. Yet, ten years earlier the GM&O had suspended all passanger service south of Saint Louis, MO; which Sparta, IL was and is. However, The GM&O had merged the Alton & Southern Railroad (which operated service between Saint Louis and Chicago). Therefore, filming of the operating train station scenes where Tibbs boards the train, as well as the long shot closing credits scenes, were completed at Alton, IL, about 75 miles north of Sparta. Careful viewing of the rail station scene early in the film between Tibbs and Chief Gillespie were at the "Sparta, IL" station but the Sparta station was clearly closed down. See more »
During the shot where Sam Wood first approaches the train depot, he casts a very long shadow reaching behind him all the way up the building wall as if lighting is directly in front of him. In the next shot when he is passing the door and sees Virgil, the shadow has greatly shrunk down as if the lighting is directly overhead. See more »
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT is a well-crafted murder mystery with a twist. Sidney Poitier is a big city detective wrongfully arrested by a racist small police detachment after the brutal murder of the town's would-be financial savior. Once the matter is resolved and Poitier released, he finds himself aiding his former captors, including Police Chief Rod Steiger, in their quest to get to the bottom of the crime.
An Academy Award winner for Best Picture, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT works on so many levels. It's a solid, unpredictable whodunit with beautiful cinematography and crisp direction from Norman Jewison. All the actors are on top of their games, particularly Steiger, whose not-entirely-likable chief gradually looks past his prejudices to warm up to Poitier. Poitier is his usual superb self, once again maintaining his vast dignity as the target of bigotry, much like he did in THE DEFIANT ONES.
And like THE DEFIANT ONES, a key theme in IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT is racism. In fact the racism on display here is so fierce and perverse that it's almost hard to believe (though I'm sure it didn't stretch a thing). You can't help but feel an emotional attachment to Poitier as he's subjected to taunts, attempted attacks, and off-color remarks from those who either don't realize the power of their words or don't care. Poitier proves again why he is perhaps the finest African-American actor ever to grace the screen.
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT is one of those movies that, while not perfect, is impossible to dislike. It's classic, though still relevant, entertainment.
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