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In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  14 October 1967 (Japan)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 46,167 users  
Reviews: 167 user | 76 critic

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



(screenplay), (based on a novel by)
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Won 5 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Colbert
Larry Gates ...
James Patterson ...
Mayor Schubert
Mama Caleba
Peter Whitney ...
Kermit Murdock ...
Larry D. Mann ...
Fred Stewart ...
Dr. Stuart
Quentin Dean ...


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


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


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 October 1967 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Al calor de la noche  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Sound)


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Norman Jewison and his editor Hal Ashby attended a sneak preview for the film, they found that the young audience was laughing uproariously at the dialogue. Although Jewison was upset that his dramatic film was not being taken seriously, Ashby assured him that the audience was laughing in approval of the southern sheriff being put in his place by the confident and urbane Det. Virgil Tibbs. Jewison did not agree until the film got to the famous slapping scene; when the white audience was stunned at seeing an African American man physically fight back against a white man for the first time in a modern mainstream American film, Jewison was convinced the film was effective as drama. See more »


Sam apprehends Virgil at the train station and takes him to the Police Station. As they approach the entrance both the inside and outside doors are closed.The inside shot of them entering the station has only the screen door closed. The inside door is open. See more »


[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 »

Crazy Credits

No uppercase ("capital") letters are used in the opening and closing credits, including the film's title, cast and characters, crew and job titles, and company credits. See more »


Referenced in Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies (2001) See more »


It Sure Is Groovy!
Music by Quincy Jones
Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Performed by Gil Bernal
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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.

28 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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