8.0/10
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In the Heat of the Night (1967)

An African-American police detective is asked to investigate a murder in a racially hostile southern town.

Director:

Norman Jewison

Writers:

Stirling Silliphant (screenplay), John Ball (based on a novel by)
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Popularity
4,385 ( 297)
Won 5 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sidney Poitier ... Virgil Tibbs
Rod Steiger ... Gillespie
Warren Oates ... Sam Wood
Lee Grant ... Mrs. Colbert
Larry Gates ... Endicott
James Patterson ... Mr. Purdy
William Schallert ... Mayor Schubert
Beah Richards ... Mama Caleba
Peter Whitney ... Courtney
Kermit Murdock ... Henderson
Larry D. Mann ... Watkins
Matt Clark ... Packy
Arthur Malet ... Ulam
Fred Stewart ... Dr. Stuart
Quentin Dean ... Delores
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Storyline

Detective Virgil Tibbs is caught up in the racial tension of the US South when he is arrested after the murder of a prominent businessman. Tibbs was simply waiting for his next train at the station in Sparta, Mississippi and the confusion is soon resolved but when local police chief Gillespie learns that Tibbs is the Philadelphia PD's number one homicide expert, he reluctantly asks for his assistance. The murdered man, Mr. Colbert, had come to Sparta from the North to build a new factory and his wife and business associates immediately point the finger at Endicott, the most powerful man in the county and the one who had the most to lose if a major new employer comes to the area. Tibbs' life is clearly in danger but he perseveres in a highly charged and racially explosive environment until the killer is found. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They got a murder on their hands . . . they don't know what to do with it. See more »


Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 October 1967 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

Al calor de la noche See more »

Filming Locations:

Belleville, Illinois, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$24,379,978
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Mirisch Corporation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Sound)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gulf, Mobile & Ohio 103, the engine that pulls Tibbs' train, was an EMD E-7A, built in March 1945, as the GM&O was the first "large" U.S. railroad to replace all steam locomotives with diesels The engine, passenger consist, and operation crew were hired from the railroad for a two-day period in 1966 to film Tibbs' arrival and departure from Sparta, Illinois, (although the GM&O had ceased passenger operations south of St. Louis, Missouri, eight years earlier) with the engine and train laying over at a yard with a turntable south of Sparta overnight. When the GM&O merged with the Illinois Central to form the ICG in August 1972, 103 was renumbered to ICG 4011, and then was sold for scrap to the Precision National Corporation in March 1975. See more »

Goofs

Calendars in diner and sheriff's office differ by many months. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Ofcr. Sam Wood: Where you keeping the pie tonight?
Ralph Henshaw, diner counterman: I ate the last piece just before you came in.
See more »

Crazy Credits

No uppercase ("capital") letters are used in the opening and closing credits, including the film's title, cast and characters, crew and job titles, and company credits. See more »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Serious Slaps in Movies (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Foul Owl on the Prowl
(uncredited)
Music by Quincy Jones
Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Performed by Owens Boomer Castleman and Michael Martin Murphey
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Growing Pains of the New South
11 May 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In order to understand what's happening in In the Heat of the Night you have to realize that it is set in a very specific time period. The Civil Rights Act had been passed in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. But the impact of those laws was only beginning to be felt.

Especially the Voting Rights Act. The town of Sparta, Mississippi where William Schallert was Mayor and Rod Steiger was sheriff now has a significant new voting population and blacks might be a majority in that county. But even if they aren't, they know have a voice in the electoral process. Someone like Steiger has to take that into account now. Of course some of his deputies might not yet be with the program which explains why when a murder/robbery is committed of a very prominent northern businessman, Warren Oates sees fit to roust Sidney Poitier who's an unfamiliar black face in that town.

What a surprise they all get when they find out he's a top Philadelphia, Pennsylvania homicide detective and when his identity is established, his boss in Philly offers his services.

Poitier and Steiger both have to work through their prejudices, how each sees the other to solve this mystery which writer Stirling Silliphant gives us several red herrings before we learn the truth. Though Steiger got the Oscar for Best Actor, it should really have been a joint award. Their conflict and growing respect for each other drives the film. Steiger needs his expertise and respects him for that and Poitier comes to respect Steiger for his honesty.

Norman Jewison got great performances from his stars and the supporting cast of whom Warren Oates as the dimwit redneck deputy really shines.

Though set in a very narrow period of our history, In the Heat of the Night holds up very well with some eternal truths in its story. And it's the story of times that were a changing as one spokesman of the sixties put it.


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