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Gerald S. O'Loughlin
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 <email@example.com>
A disappointing follow-up to IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT,one of the most seminal films of the 60's,THEY CALL ME MISTER TIBBS! utilises perhaps the previous film's most famous line of dialogue,but all comparisons should end there.The personality clash between Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier that produced so many vivid and memorable dramatic scenes previously(albeit laced with some humour) is totally missing in this much inferior sequel.Poitier has rightly been praised for bringing dignity and respect to the black man on the American Screen after decades of humiliating and degrading stereotypes,but he looks oddly dispirited here with middling direction,an unexciting plot,and a dullish script.The inclusion of some fine character actors(Anthony Zerbe,Juano Hernandez,Ed Asner,Jeff Corey)is one of the film's few minor points of merit,and Poitier and Martin Landau do their best to make their scenes together have some dramatic impact,but they and others can only do so much with a somewhat banal script.The film may have been better had some pointless and unnecessary domestic scenes involving Tibbs' family(particularly his son) been removed,and which are basically irrelevant to the plot and seem to have been tagged on merely to add extra footage.
The film's best aspect is the musical score by Quincy Jones.Jones' funky interjections are most welcome,and indeed improve the quality of many sequences;it almost seems a touchstone for future blaxsploitation movie scores that were to soon follow,starting with the following year's SHAFT.The film is not totally unwatchable,but a disappointingly listless follow-up to the classic that preceded it.
Rating:5 out of 10.
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