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
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 »
Calendars in diner and sheriff's office differ by many months. See more »
One of the best films of all time, a Best Picture Oscar winner, and a highly deserved one at that. After reading a plot summary, it would be easy for someone to classify Norman Jewison's IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT as a simple buddy-cop movie, but it is so much more - this is film-making at it's finest. An absolutely merciless mystery, NIGHT contains some incredibly intense scenes that might make some viewers uncomfortable (the garage confrontation comes immediately to mind).
The film is expertly put together, with the feel of heady film noir. The performances are first rate: both Poitier and Rod Steiger were nominated for Best Actor, with the Oscar actually going home to Steiger (the film won four other Oscars as well). The Poitier-Steiger pairing is one of the most potent in film history, and their slowly growing friendship is one of the most touching. is a glowing example of what happens when an excellent cast, director, and screenplay combine to make an exceptional film.
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