Wednesday, September 28, 2011

AFI 75 - In the Heat of the Night

In the Heat of the Night
Directed by Norman Jewison
Netflix sleeve: Philadelphia detective Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) helps a redneck Southern sheriff (Rod Steiger) solve a murder in this fascinating study in racism that still strikes a resonant chord today. Steiger won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance as the put-upon sheriff who comes to respect Tibbs's professionalism and ability. Norman Jewison directs this dramatic tale with a feeling for the cultural and social atmosphere of the time.

Growing up, my only exposure to In the Heat of the Night was the TV series starring Carroll O'Connor. And when that show was on, I was just a kid and I remember always being disappointed whenever it came on. Because it came on during the day once it hit syndication. So during the summer, when I was home to enjoy daytime TV, I was just met with disappointment when I saw that it was coming on. If I'd had any clue how awesome the original movie was, I'd have probably given the show a shot. 44 years later, the movie still has a relevant message. And even if the problem of racism didn't still exist, the movie would still be worth watching. For one thing, it shows an accurate portrayal of a small town in the deep south in the mid-1960s. For another, it's a great murder mystery with an exciting ending. If you've never given this movie a chance, give it a chance. Definitely worth it.

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