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
Producer Walter Mirisch used creative accounting to prove to United Artists that the film would make a profit even if it did not play in the South at all. See more »
When Harvey is being chased through the woods, there are shots from Harvey's POV as he looks around the woods. If you look at the bottom of the screen where you're supposed to see Harvey's shadow, his shadow is that of the cameraman with the camera clearly mounted on the shoulder. See more »
It's solid enough for a Best Picture winner. The characterizations are deep and fleshed-out, and this is only enhanced by the two great lead performances (I would've given the Oscar to both of them), but I found myself wanting a bit more meat on the actual story. The whodunit mystery lacks real interest, and I wanted something more engaging and intriguing for these characters to do. I also found myself perplexed by the solution at the end - far too confusing a mystery to be an effective one. This may seem like a contradiction, but what I really wanted was a meaningful, layered story, not a twisted, confounding one.
It's got a great sense of style about it, helped by that great score and Jewison's often flashy direction. But, in the grand ol' year of 1967, it's got nothing on Bonnie and Clyde or even The Graduate. So, a solid enough BP winner, if not a deserving one.
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