A black police detective is asked to investigate a murder in a racially hostile southern town.

Director:

Norman Jewison

Writers:

Stirling Silliphant (screenplay), John Ball (based on a novel by)
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Popularity
636 ( 3,154)
Won 5 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sidney Poitier ... Det. Virgil Tibbs
Rod Steiger ... Chief Bill Gillespie
Warren Oates ... Officer Sam Wood
Lee Grant ... Mrs. Colbert
Larry Gates ... Eric Endicott
James Patterson ... Mr. Purdy
William Schallert ... Mayor Schubert
Beah Richards ... Mama Caleba
Peter Whitney ... Courtney
Kermit Murdock ... Henderson
Larry D. Mann ... Watkins
Matt Clark ... Packy Harrison
Arthur Malet ... Ulam
Fred Stewart ... Dr. Stuart
Quentin Dean ... Delores Purdy
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

They're going to pin something on that smart cop from Philidelphia . . . maybe a medal . . . maybe a murder! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie's line "They call me Mister Tibbs!" was voted as the #16 movie quote by the American Film Institute. See more »

Goofs

In Gillespie's first scene he is trying to get the air conditioner to blow harder in his office. He reaches up and gives the knob a good sized turn, only when his hand pulls back the knob is still in it's original position. See more »

Quotes

[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.
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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 »

Connections

Featured in Discovering Film: Rod Steiger (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Bowlegged Polly
(uncredited)
Music by Quincy Jones
Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Performed by Glen Campbell
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User Reviews

 
Once timely, now timeless
23 September 2005 | by bwaynefSee all my reviews

One of the great films of the 60s, "In the Heat of the Night" hasn't aged a bit in the four decades since its release and now deserves to be ranked with the great films of all time. Beautifully atmospheric, Haskell Wexler's brilliant cinematography and Norman Jewison's first rate direction make you feel the humidity of the small Mississippi town in which a black detective teams with the redneck sheriff to solve the murder of an important industrialist.

As sheriff Bill Gillespie, Rod Steiger is superb in his Oscar winning role, and this film provides Sidney Poitier with some of his greatest screen moments, including his famous admonition to Steiger that became the title of the less impressive 1970 spin off: "They call me MISTER Tibbs!"

This is one of the few politically correct films to make its point without resorting to heavy-handed, sanctimonious preaching. Stirling Silliphant's Oscar winning screenplay never hits a false note, and the change that occurs in the relationship between the leading characters is subtle, and, therefore, believable. The two stars are ably supported by an outstanding cast of both veterans (Lee Grant, Warren Oates, Beah Richards) and newcomers (Scott Wilson, Quentin Dean, and the delightfully creepy Anthony James). The score by Quincy Jones, featuring Ray Charles' rendition of the title song, captures the proper mood throughout.

In a year when the odds-makers were predicting an Oscar victory for "Bonnie and Clyde" or "The Graduate," "In the Heat of the Night" surprised the prognosticators by taking the Best Picture prize and four other Oscars. Considering its theme of racial tolerance, it seemed an appropriate choice at an Oscar ceremony that was postponed following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The film's theme made it timely, but its artistry makes it timeless.

The Academy made the right choice.

Brian W. Fairbanks


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 August 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Heat of the Night See more »

Filming Locations:

Belleville, Illinois, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$27,669
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Sound)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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