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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Updated: Oct 15, 2022


Plot Summary: African-American Philadelphia police detective Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) is arrested on suspicion of murder by Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger), the racist police chief of tiny Sparta, Mississippi. After Tibbs proves not only his own innocence but that of another man, he joins forces with Gillespie to track down the real killer. Their investigation takes them through every social level of the town, with Tibbs making enemies as well as unlikely friends as he hunts for the truth.


What this movie is about in 15 words or less: Black Philadelphia Cop forces Mississippi Police force to actually investigate a homicide thoroughly.


Best Performance: Sidney Poitier (Virgil Tibbs)

Best Minor Performance: Warren Oates (Sam Wood/AKF: The Wild Bunch, Stripes)

Most Charismatic Award: Sidney Poitier

Best Scene: Introduction of Virgil Tibbs

Favorite Scene: Trading Slaps/The Ending


Best Line:

Gillespie: Well, you're pretty sure of yourself, ain't you, Virgil? Virgil—that's a funny name for a nigger boy that comes from Philadelphia! What do they call you up there?

Tibbs: They call me Mr. Tibbs!


Honorable Mention:

Gillespie: Boy, it would give me a world of satisfaction to horse whip you, Virgil.

Tibbs:[laughing] My father used to say that. He even did a couple of times.

Gillespie: Yeah, well, not enough to suit me! Now you listen to me. Just for once in my life I'm gonna hold my temper. I'm tellin' you you're gonna stay here. You're gonna stay here if I have to go inside and call your chief of police and have him remind you of what he told you to do. But I don't think I have to do that, you see? No. Because you're so damn smart. You're smarter than any white man. You're just gonna stay here and show us all. You've got such a big head that you could never live with yourself unless you could put us all to shame! You wanna know somethin', Virgil? I don't think that you could let an opportunity like that pass by.


Funniest Line:

[Losing his composure, Endicott slaps Tibbs across the face. Tibbs slaps Endicott right back, visibly shocking him.]

Endicott: Gillespie?

Gillespie: Yeah.

Endicott: You saw it.

Gillespie: I saw it.

Endicott: Well, what are you gonna do about it?

Gillespie: I don't know.

Endicott: I'll remember that. [to Tibbs] There was a time... when I could've had you shot.


Most Indelible Moment: The Ending/the Reveal


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 7

Impact/Significance: 6

Novelty: 7

Classic-ness: 5.5

Rewatchability: 6

Audience Score: 9.2

Total: 40.7


*Recognition: Nominated for Best Director and Sound Editing, Won for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Editing, and Sound Mixing


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