In the Heat of the Night Reviews
Great film! Not really one i'd call a classic, but this is timeless piece that was completely ahead of it's time.
Released in 1967, during the Civil Rights movement, In the Heat of the Night is about a Black Philadelphia cop who gets involved in a murder case in a small rascist Mississippi town. The film dared to go where so many other films of the time dared not, and it's for that reason it will remembered forever.
Strong performance by Sidney Poitier, but the whole film is driven by the masterful performance by Rob Steiger! He definitely deserved the Oscar.
In the Heat of the Night is a great crime/mystery film! I recommend it to everyone!
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.
"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.
The murder mystery took a far back seat to the story of how the town deals with the black detective trying to do his job.
There was only one character I thought didn't do a good job at all and that was the creepy girl that ended up being the key to the murder. She over acted and just came off creepy and a bit touched.
I'm looking forward to seeing more of Sidney Poitier character.
I loved any scene where we get Tibbs doing something that the white folk find appalling. When he examines the body and when he has to deal with the cotton grower. For only being a few decades away this frame of mind seems barbaric.
Virgil Tibbs: They call me MISTER Tibbs!
Chief Gillespie: Mr. Tibbs! Well Mr. Woods take Mr. Tibbs! Take him down to the depot and I mean boy like now!
A great movie all around, combining a murder mystery with themes of prejudice in the south.
A body turns up in the middle of a small town in Mississippi. The sheriff, Chief Gilespie played by Rod Steiger, tells his deputy to round up anyone at the edge of town who is suspicious. The deputy finds a well dressed black man at the train station and immediately takes him in. After some questioning, it is revealed that this man is Detective Tibbs, played by Sydney Poitier, the best homicide detective from Pennsylvania.
After dealing with his own chief, Tibbs is asked to help out with solving the murder in this little town, seeing as how they have no real experience in this field.
The man that was murdered was a wealthy industrialist, bringing a factory and jobs to the town, so now his wife has threatened to take that away unless they let Tibbs help, seeing as how she has seen his expertise in action.
Chief Gillespie: I got the motive which is money and the body which is dead.
While apprehensive, both Tibbs and Gilespie have to learn to work together, despite their differences, to solve the crime.
The story is great for all sorts of reasons. Its well handled, unfolding the mystery carefully and plausibly. The prejudice issue is also handled well, making use of it as a theme that helps the story out.
Both Poitier and Steiger are great here. They both play people skilled in a certain degree and with personalities that clash and develop to an extent.
Director Norman Jewison handles the film appropriately, with good camera work and editing. The soundtrack is also a good combination of mystery beats and a Ray Charles themes song.
Great movie all around.
Tibbs: Now listen, hear me good mama. Please. Don't make me have to send you to jail... There's white time in jail and there's color time in jail. The worst kind of time you can do is color time.
The cinematography within this film is just amazing, the scenery shows perfectly where Tibbs is heading and the claustropobic atmosphere that he wil occupy. The direction within this film seriously emphasises the humidity and racial tension that we see forthcoming within the film and of course the title as well.
The Sheriff, rod Steiger gives a supber performance and deserved the oscar for the role, which he got at the academy awards. This, oddly is the first Poitier film that I've seen, so I can't comment on whether this was his best role because I just don't know. However I can see why he was so admired as an actor at the time and just how great he really is. Probably one of the greatest actors ever to grace the silver screen.
This politcially chaaged thriller certainly fitted with the social context of that era and really shows just how awful it was for a black man to go around in the southern sates of America. I certainly saw that with some of the rather uncomfortable scenes within the film when Tibbs gets corned and almost killer for instance.
Overall a seriously superb thriller equipped with one amazing Quincy Jones soundtrack. HIGHLY RECOMENDED