In the Heat of the Night Reviews
Officer Sam Wood (Warren Oates) comes across a deceased body of a rich business man on the road during his scheduled patrol in the night. He duly informs Chief Gillespie (Rod Steiger) who takes over and orders Sam to keep a check on some usual notorious places. Sam finds a black man with a fat purse waiting to get on a train. Coming from a racist southern town, Sam duly hauls the black man to the station without even questioning him marking him as a prime suspect. When the chief finds the black man Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) to be a police officer from North and that too one of the best Homicide experts, he reluctantly requests his help in turn mounting the wrath of the town on him.
It is a movie with extreme highs and a moderate lows. While the conversations between Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier are electrifying, the general behavior of the town is provocative and many external plot elements inducing the required urgency for a thriller, the general progression of the central plot is hampered by a leisure screenplay and too many distractions. The climax revelation needed to be a lot more intelligent given the buildup. Rod Steiger's Academy win is one the most unconventional and well deserved I have come across. Apart from Rod Steiger, Sidney Poitier and briefly by Lee Grant and Larry Gates, the host of other supporting characters performances were too ordinary.
Some of the memorable scenes that impressed me
1) Tibbs consoling Mrs. Colbert
2) Tibbs altercation with Endicott and Chief Gillespie's response to that.
3) Chief Gillespie's personal confession about loneliness
4) Climax parting scene
The complex premise and masterful performances elevates the simple dull plot
Watched this on 20/2/16
Does more justice to it's themes than what films like Mississippi burning could do. In the heat of the night is a mixed bag, it combines murder mystery, taut acting, tension and social commentary all at once in the same movie. This is yet another forgotten classic which gets its head right and message straight. This is the story of a town that refuses to change in a time where Hollywood perhaps had its most phenomenal changes from the ultra conventional styles.