They Call Me Mister Tibbs (1970)
Sidney Poitier reprises his role as Virgil Tibbs in this crime drama, a story unrelated to that of the earlier film In the Heat of the Night. Once again, he is a veteran homicide detective and is currently investigating the murder of a prostitute. The primary suspect is San Francisco political activist Reverend Logan Sharpe (Martin Landau), the last person seen with the victim. Tibbs and Sharpe are friends, and Tibbs would like to believe the priest is not guilty. Sharpe admits to Tibbs he has slept with the late hooker, and the detective intensifies his focus on his friend, and in one climactic scene, Virgil interrupts a city-council meeting where the priest is campaigning for political reform. On the home front, after dealing with dope peddlers, pimps, murderers and other crooks all day, Virgil returns home to his wife Valeri (Barbara McNair) and his two children, only to be firmly chided for being late for dinner and spending too much time on the job. … More
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Critic Reviews for They Call Me Mister Tibbs
Audience Reviews for They Call Me Mister Tibbs
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?
I enjoyed Martin Landau's supporting role. I appreciate the social improvement project that he is trying to push forward. In this sequel to In the Heat of the Night, Police Lieutenant Virgil Tibbs returns home to San Francisco to solve a murder. I think the main reason these sequels weren't as critically acclaimed or as popular is because Tibbs was removed from the high tension setting of the south. Race drove most of the drama and success of In the Heat of the Night. Poitier still gives a solid performance, but now the focus is more on his family and the sparsely developed mystery. We get to see an upper middle class black family (wife/mother, son, daughter, and father who isn't around much because of his work). There are other black police officers and detectives, and hardly anyone expresses any resentment that Tibbs holds a prominent law enforcement position. It's all very comfortable. There are several red herrings in the mystery plot in order to slip in some foot and car chases. So the filmmakers try to replace the tense drama with action sequences. The dilemma Tibbs faces when he figures out who the murderer is helps deepen his character, but the ending is too convenient. Abrupt eye for an eye justice that is a slap in the face to Tibbs' ideal that justice is served in the courts wraps up this movie.More
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