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San Francisco Police Lieutenant Virgil Tibbs is called in to investigate when a liberal street preacher and political candidate is accused of murdering a prostitute. Tibbs is also battling domestic woes, including a frustrated wife and a rebellious adolescent son. Written by
Marty McKee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
With its kipper ties, flared trousers and proficient - yet dated - music, They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! is perhaps the Poitier film that has aged least gracefully. While its prequel, In The Heat of the Night, was borne from the epitome of cool that was the sixties, here the seventies nurtured this film, which lends it a kitsch value, as well as the air of a t.v. movie. Though these elements - such as seeing the funky theme start up to the tune of Sidney clocking someone with a telephone, or Ed Asner (tv's Lou Grant) "drive" a car to a filmed backdrop - make it endearing and a must-see for a light-hearted Saturday night.
A world away from the usual Sidney vehicle we have here a trawl through San Francisco's red light districts, to which the family elements - though the most critically attacked - actually provide effective light. Also unusual is the amount of sexual tone Sidney is here allowed to display. Yet whereas in the former film Poitier was the big town Lieutenant working in small-town Mississippi, here he is on his own territory, thus shaving the film of one of its dimensions. Without Steiger to bounce off, what depth the script provides his character second time around comes from his wife and children, most notably his son. After slapping the boy into submission, Poitier hugs him, mourning the fact that "you're not perfect . and I can't forgive you." Not a perfectly-formed film by any means, this one does improve on repeated viewing, and the majority of ill feeling does seem to be down to disappointment. After all, how does one make a sequel to a movie that's hailed as a classic?
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