They Call Me Mister Tibbs (1970)
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as Virgil Tibbs
as Logan Sharpe
as Valerie Tibbs
as Rice Weedon
as Capt. Marden
as Lt. Kenner
as Woody Garfield
as Marge Garfield
as Mealie Williamson
as Sgt. Deutsch
as Joy Sturges
as Andrew Tibbs
as Ginger Tibbs
as Medical Examiner
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This is the sequel to the award winning classic In the Heat of the Night and, though it is well meaning, this is a far step down from the place where its predecessor stands.
Taking on a cool, protoblaxploitation feel, the film follows veteran homicide detective Virgil Tibbs as he takes on the cae of a murdered prostitute in San Francico, with the primary suspect being his friend political activist Reverend Logan Sharpe.
Tibbs finds his loyalties divided, and danger all around, but there are some other things thrown in, such as cursory passes at social commentary and the effect of Tibbs' work ethic on his wife and kids. Despite all of this being decently played, none of it is fresh, exciting, or relevatory. It's a well worn story that is saved by decent perforamnces from Poitier (returning as Tibbs) and Martin Landau as Sharpe. Oh yeah, and Quincy Jones returns to do the music, and the score is solid, though not the most memorable thing ever.
All in all, this is slightly better than okay, but it's nothing too special. I enjoyed it though, and appreciate the fact that this is something of a mild precursor to blaxploitation, but, that aside, there's nothoing really remarkable going on here, which is unfortunate given the power of the film this is a follow up to.
With its kipper ties, flared trousers and proficient - yet dated - music, They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! is perhaps the Poitier film that has aged least gracefully. While its prequel, In The Heat of the Night, was borne from the epitome of cool that was the sixties, here the seventies nurtured this film, which lends it a kitsch value, as well as the air of a t.v. movie. Though these elements - such as seeing the funky theme start up to the tune of Sidney clocking someone with a telephone, or Ed Asner (tv's Lou Grant) "drive" a car to a filmed backdrop - make it endearing and a must-see for a light-hearted Saturday night.
A world away from the usual Sidney vehicle we have here a trawl through San Francisco's red light districts, to which the family elements - though the most critically attacked - actually provide effective light. Also unusual is the amount of sexual tone Sidney is here allowed to display. Yet whereas in the former film Poitier was the big town Lieutenant working in small-town Mississippi, here he is on his own territory, thus shaving the film of one of its dimensions. Without Steiger to bounce off, what depth the script provides his character second time around comes from his wife and children, most notably his son. After slapping the boy into submission, Poitier hugs him, mourning the fact that "you're not perfect . and I can't forgive you." Not a perfectly-formed film by any means, this one does improve on repeated viewing, and the majority of ill feeling does seem to be down to disappointment. After all, how does one make a sequel to a movie that's hailed as a classic?
Average suspenseful sequel to In the Heat of the Night (1967).
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