Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The winner of the 1967 Oscar for Best Picture (as well as four other Oscars), In the Heat of the Night is set in a small Mississippi town where an unusual murder has been committed. Rod Steiger plays sheriff Bill Gillespie, a good lawman despite his racial prejudices. When Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier), a well-dressed northern African-American, comes to town, Gillespie instinctively puts him under arrest as a murder suspect. Tibbs reveals himself to be a Philadelphia police detective; after he and Gillespie come to a grudging understanding of one another, Tibbs offers to help in Gillespie's investigation. As the case progresses, both Gillespie and Tibbs betray a tendency to jump to culture-dictated conclusions. Still, the case is solved thanks to the informal teamwork of the two law officers. Based on the novel by John Ball, In the Heat of the Night inspired two sequels, both starring Poiter as Virgil Tibbs. In 1987, a TV series version of In the Heat of the Night appeared, with Carroll O'Connor as Gillespie and Howard Rollins as Tibbs.
detective, investigation, prejudice, race-relations, racism, sheriff, small-town
High Historical Importance, High Production Values