8.0/10
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205 user 105 critic

In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 2 August 1967 (USA)
An African-American 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)
Reviews
Popularity
3,220 ( 342)

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Won 5 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sidney Poitier ... Virgil Tibbs
Rod Steiger ... Gillespie
Warren Oates ... Sam Wood
Lee Grant ... Mrs. Colbert
Larry Gates ... 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
Arthur Malet ... Ulam
Fred Stewart ... Dr. Stuart
Quentin Dean ... Delores
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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 got a murder on their hands . . . they don't know what to do with it. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Sound)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The only film directed by Norman Jewison to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. See more »

Goofs

When the sheriff is called to go and see the Mayor at his place of work, Gillespie drives through Sparta and passes an elderly black gentlemen on the sidewalk . He is dressed in a shabby suit wearing a beige V-neck sweater and a hat. You then see the car drive a few hundred yards further into town and in the next shot, a few seconds later the same man is again walking along the sidewalk. 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.
See more »

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 »


Soundtracks

Foul Owl on the Prowl
(uncredited)
Music by Quincy Jones
Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Performed by Owens Boomer Castleman and Michael Martin Murphey
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
flawless movie, deserved Best Picture
29 March 2004 | by dr_foremanSee all my reviews

There are many bad "issues" movies out there, but this is not one of them. In a bad movie, all of the racist characters would be one dimensional and one hundred percent evil; here, Steiger is allowed to play a prejudiced man who is actually sympathetic and capable of growth (hence the Oscar). In a great twist, Virgil Tibbs himself is shown to be capable of prejudice, as he pursues Endicott without sufficient evidence. It's refreshing to see a movie that portrays the entire spectrum of racism, from the crazy extremists (and there are plenty of those on hand here) to the more subtly prejudiced.

"Mississippi Burning," a weaker effort, is not only more tediously didactic, but also less progressive; that film doesn't feature a protagonist like Virgil Tibbs, and instead focuses on the actions of two white federal agents. In this case, the old movie really is the better movie; produced at the height of the civil rights struggle, "In the Heat of the Night" feels more immediate and passionate than preachy films on the subject that were made years later, after the tension had died down.

Some reviewers complain that the mystery segments of the film are confusing, but I follow them without much trouble. Tibbs does a great Sherlock Holmes routine throughout, as he pieces together the solution based on clues that are also available to viewers. Sure, the ending is surprising, but it doesn't come entirely out of left field; I actually admire the subtle ways that clues are sewn throughout the film. If you're not used to mysteries, the barrage of red herrings and dead-end clues might surprise you, but it's pretty standard stuff for the genre.

I knew about the classic line "They call me Mr. Tibbs!" long before I actually saw this movie. I used to wonder why the line was so famous; it doesn't sound that exciting, does it? But when I finally heard Poitier say it in context, I asked my brother to pause the tape so I could cheer without missing any of the subsequent dialog. That's how excited I get during this movie. The performances are so naturalistic, and the racial conflict so vividly drawn, that I get pulled into the action completely. Though 1967 was a strong year for films, I still think that the right one got Best Picture, and not just because it was topical; "In the Heat of the Night" is a well-directed, superb character study, populated by some of the most vivid characters I've ever encountered in a movie.


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