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
Gulf, Mobile & Ohio 103, the engine that pulls Tibbs' train, was an EMD E-7A, built in March 1945, as the GM&O was the first "large" U.S. railroad to replace all steam locomotives with diesels The engine, passenger consist and operation crew were hired from the railroad for a two-day period in 1966 to film Tibbs' arrival and departure from Sparta, IL, (although the GM&O had ceased passenger operations south of St. Louis, Missouri, eight years earlier) with the engine and train laying over at a yard with a turntable south of Sparta overnight. When the GM&O merged with the Illinois Central to form the ICG in August 1972, 103 was renumbered to ICG 4011, and then was sold for scrap to the Precision National Corporation in March 1975. See more »
In the final scene when Gillespie puts Tibbs on the train, the shadow of the boom microphone can be seen on the station house. See more »
Whodunits are a dime a dozen in my view.What makes In the Heat of the Night so unique in the murder mystery genre is it's setting:The racially tense deep south.This is what I enjoy about the film.You have two major plot lines to keep you engrossed:The investigation into the murder itself,and the racial tensions between Sidney Poitier's Virgil Tibbs character and virtually every other character in the film.The film is loaded with great acting,particularly from Poitier,who,not surprisingly,considers this his best work and is his favorite amongst all the projects he has done.Not only is this recommended viewing,it is recommended for a spot on your home video shelf.
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