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In the Heat of the Night (1967)



Average Rating: 8.1/10
Reviews Counted: 36
Fresh: 34 | Rotten: 2

Tense, funny, and thought-provoking all at once, and lifted by strong performances from Sydney Poitier and Rod Steiger, director Norman Jewison's look at murder and racism in small-town America continues to resonate today.


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 0

Tense, funny, and thought-provoking all at once, and lifted by strong performances from Sydney Poitier and Rod Steiger, director Norman Jewison's look at murder and racism in small-town America continues to resonate today.



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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 22,305

My Rating

Movie Info

The winner of the 1967 Oscar for Best Picture (as well as four other Oscars), In the Heat of the Night is set in a small Mississippi town where an unusual murder has been committed. Rod Steiger plays sheriff Bill Gillespie, a good lawman despite his racial prejudices. When Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier), a well-dressed northern African-American, comes to town, Gillespie instinctively puts him under arrest as a murder suspect. Tibbs reveals himself to be a Philadelphia police detective; after he


Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics

Stirling Silliphant

Jan 9, 2001

MGM Home Entertainment

Watch It Now


Latest News on In the Heat of the Night

June 22, 2007:
AFI Announces Top 100 Movies of All Time ... Again
Ten years ago the AFI gave us a list of the Top 100 American Films Ever Made -- and when that was...


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All Critics (36) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (2) | DVD (14)

Social importance aside, In the Heat of the Night works as a buddy film and as a tense thriller.

January 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Richard
Top Critic IconTop Critic

No deep solutions are suggested in this subtle and meticulously observed study. Yet Director Norman Jewison has used his camera to extract a cer tain rough-cut beauty from each protagonist.

February 20, 2009 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An excellent Sidney Poitier performance, and an outstanding one by Rod Steiger, overcome some noteworthy flaws to make In The Heat of the Night an absorbing contemporary murder drama.

February 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A decent piece of do-good cinema.

December 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Oozes sufficient Southern sweat and features enough admirably crumpled character faces to make up for its over-strident liberal rhetoric.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A film that has the look and sound of actuality and the pounding pulse of truth.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Quincy Jones provides a score that perfectly complements the flavorful atmosphere.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Though apart from its handling of race, In The Heat Of The Night's story had a familiar ring, it didn't really look much like the standard fare of 1967.

January 31, 2014 Full Review Source: The Dissolve
The Dissolve

If you're collecting Best Pictures, 'In the Heat of the Night' was completely deserving of the Oscar then, and remains a taut crime drama almost 50 years later.

January 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

A film that satisfies equally as police procedural and social commentary.

January 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

The plot is a set-up, a stacked deck, yet the atmosphere is palpably unpleasant, and Poitier and Steiger have a field day.

January 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

The film's flatly descriptive approach to exploring race in America probably felt a bit more intense and meaningful in the thick of the Civil Rights Era than it does now.

August 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Good as the performances are, isn't it all a bit disingenuous?

February 16, 2013 Full Review Source: PopMatters

Far -- far -- more interested in racial politics than criminal capers, and it's Tibbs' interactions with the local yokels that make the film so memorable

February 28, 2008 Full Review Source:

Probably Norman Jewison's best picture.

October 31, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

The cleverness of Silliphant's script is in combining the investigation of a murder with a message film.

October 31, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

[A] superb thriller.

December 13, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Rod Steiger delivers an engaging performance as a bigoted police chief who comes to trust a strong black homicide detective.

November 21, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

Norman Jewison's drama is a message film in the guise of a small-town murder mystery, propagating interracial friendship between blacks and whites.

July 25, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Liberal do-gooder film.

May 25, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comments (2)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

...captured that small town feel quite well...

August 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Audience Reviews for In the Heat of the Night

Sidney Poitier stars as Virgil Tibbs, a detective from up north (Philadelphia) who gets stuck in the middle of a murder investigation in small town Sparta, Mississippi (actually, the movie was filmed in Sparta, Il, not too far from here). The year is 1967, and Mississippi is a hotbed of racism. The sheriff of Sparta, a man by the name of Gillespie (Rod Steiger) is a bit more pragmatic than his cartoonishly one-dimensional subordinates. While racism is pretty ingrained from birth, it's clear no one in this town has ever met anyone quite like Tibbs, a man who's well-dressed and better educated than any of them. The murder mystery is pretty engaging, but it's the dynamic interaction between Tibbs and the townsfolk, and in particular with Sheriff Gillespie that makes the movie. Neither man is a villain or a saint, but by the end both learn to have a little respect for the each other. It's a microcosm of racism's history and it's future, where we were and where we'd like to be.
July 16, 2012
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

A black homicide detective from the big city becomes embroiled in a murder case in a small backwater town in 1960s Mississippi. A thinly disguised commentary on prejudice in the times of the civil rights movement, In The Heat Of The Night is also a smartly plotted and suspenseful Film Noir style murder mystery that showcases Sidney Poitier's not inconsiderable charisma. He dominates the screen whenever he appears and his scenes with the comparably excellent Rod Steiger's red neck sheriff crackle with tension as their worlds collide amidst their verbal sparring. Featuring a colourful backdrop of local culture and antiquated attitudes based upon the belief that slavery was the "natural order", it contains many memorable lines and strong performances. The resolution to the story seems a little anti-climactic considering the power of the build up, but it's definitely one of the best examples of politically savvy thrillers around and worth it for the scenes involving Poitier and Steiger butting heads alone.
July 3, 2012
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

An interesting film on the changing power dynamics of race relations in the Bible Belt at a time when the nation seemed to be mired in social upheaval. The film centers around the murder of a white business man and the way that small town mentalities react to an African American man of power infringing on what they hold so dear: their ignorance. Sidney Poitier's character Virgil Tibbs symbolizes the African American rejection of caucasian paternalism. In his Academy Award winning performance, Rod Steiger plays Chief Bill Gillespie who is caught in the middle of serving justice and aiding in the upkeep of the small town naivety. Important for its time? Absolutely. Does it hold up very well? Fairly well. Does it lay the foundation for future bi-racial buddy cop films? I believe so.
However, maybe because of my very own ignorance of the deep south, I have a hard time swallowing the blithe southern disposition that most of these characters embody. I understand that Jewison was trying to show a stark contrast between the old stock Americans and the more modern view of humanity, however it made many of these character appear a little too juvenile and prevented them from seeming like real people. With a film attempting to tackle such important social issues head on, the last thing you want is to feel as though it were an isolated incident.
This is not meant to detract from the strengths of this film. The performances are strong, even though I find it odd that a film about race relations would give the award to Steiger, whose performance in my mind was not as important or as gripping as Poitier's. There is also some really interesting uses of POV shots to get the audience immersed in the film. On top of this, Wexler's cinematography is gritty and really gives the viewer a sense that you are truly in the deep South. All in all, a flawed but important film that is worth a watch.
March 21, 2011
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

    1. Police Chief Bill Gillespie: I got the motive which is money and the body which is dead.
    – Submitted by Anthony J (14 months ago)
    1. Virgil Tibbs: They call me Mister Tibbs!
    – Submitted by Dutch E (18 months ago)
    1. Virgil Tibbs: They call me Mister Tibbs.
    – Submitted by Brendan C (20 months ago)
    1. Police Chief Bill Gillespie: Your not going to do nothing. Your just going to stand there and shut up.
    – Submitted by Brendan C (20 months ago)
    1. Police Chief Bill Gillespie: Just once in my life, I'm gonna own my temper. I'm telling you that you're gonna stay here. You're gonna stay here if I have to go inside and call your chief of police and have him remind you of what he told you to do. But I don't think I have to do that, you see? No, because you're so damn smart. You're smarter than any white man. You're just gonna stay here and show us all. You've got such a big head that you could never live with yourself unless you could put us all to shame. You wanna know something, Virgil? I don't think that you could let an opportunity like that pass by.
    – Submitted by Dusan D (3 years ago)
    1. Virgil Tibbs: They call me MISTER Tibbs!
    – Submitted by Tyler C (3 years ago)
View all quotes (6)

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Foreign Titles

  • In der Hitze der Nacht (DE)
  • Dans la chaleur de la nuit (FR)
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