In the Heat of the Night is a movie about a murder that is committed in the small southern town of Sparta, Mississippi. When a prominent business man is found dead in the street, a man hunt ensues, turning up Virgil Tibbs. Tibbs was waiting for a train back to Philadelphia, when he is brought in for questioning by authorities. The police soon realize they have made a grave mistake when Tibbs shows them his police badge. Realizing they have the wrong man, the police force is then forced to restart their search. The problem is, they have no idea what they are doing. Tibbs is asked to stay on and help investigate the crime. With mounting pressure from the community and racial tension high, Tibbs risks his life to solve this case.
This movie originally reminded me of Do the Right Thing, which I watched a few months ago. Racial tension, heat, murder... but this movie was different. Yes there were racially charged scenes and conflicts, but the main story was about who had caused the murder. It really kept you guessing the whole movie, which I also liked. I honestly had no idea who had done it until the very end!
Did you know?
- Set in a hot Mississippi summer but filmed during autumn in Illinois, many of the actors had to keep ice chips in their mouths (and spit them out before takes) to prevent their breath from appearing on camera during the night scenes.
- Due to the assassination of civil rights activist Martin Luther King (April 4, 1968), the presentation of the Best Picture Oscar for this film was postponed for two days from Monday April 8th to Wednesday April 10, 1968. (see also - The Life of Emile Zola and Raging Bull).
When to See It: In the mood for a murder mystery
Run Time: ~1hr 40 min