AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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In the Heat of the Night
Director: Norman Jewison (Dir)
Release Date:   Aug 1967
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 2 Aug 1967; Los Angeles opening: 23 Aug 1967
Production Date:   26 Sep 1966
Duration (in mins):   109-110
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Cast:   Sidney Poitier (Virgil Tibbs)  
    Rod Steiger ([Bill] Gillespie)  
    Warren Oates (Sam Wood)  
    Lee Grant (Mrs. [Leslie] Colbert)  
    Larry Gates ([Eric] Endicott)  
    James Patterson (Mr. Purdy)  
    William Schallert (Mayor [Webb] Schubert)  
    Beah Richards (Mama Caleba [Mrs. Bellamy])  
    Peter Whitney ([George] Courtney)  
    Kermit Murdock ([H. E.] Henderson)  
    Larry D. Mann (Watkins)  
    Matt Clark (Packy [Harrison])  
    Arthur Malet ([Ted] Ulam)  
    Fred Stewart (Dr. Stuart)  
  And introducing Quentin Dean (Delores [Purdy])  
    Scott Wilson (Harvey Oberst)  
    Timothy Scott (Shagbag [Martin])  
    William C. Watson (McNeil)  
    Eldon Quick (Charles Hawthorne)  
    Stuart Nisbet (Shuie [Member of mayor's council])  
    Khalil Bezaleel (Jess)  
    Peter Masterson ([Arnold] Fryer)  
    Jester Hairston (Butler [Henry])  
    Phil Adams (1st tough)  
    Nikita Knatz (2nd tough)  
    Sam Reese (Clerk)  
    Anthony James (Ralph [Henshaw])  
    Alan Oppenheimer (Engineer)  
    Philip Garris (Engineer)  
    Clegg Hoyt (Deputy)  
    David Stinehart (Baggagemaster)  
    Buzz Barton (Conductor)  
    Jack Teter (Philip Colbert)  
    Michael LeGlaire (Member of mayor's council)  

Summary: In Sparta, Mississippi, one hot September night, the murdered body of wealthy industrialist Philip Colbert is found in an alley. Hunting for suspects, the police pick up Virgil Tibbs, a well-dressed black man, and bring him to headquarters for questioning. To the consternation of police chief Bill Gillespie, Tibbs turns out to be a top homicide detective from Philadelphia, who has been in town visiting his mother. Ordered by his superior in Philadelphia to assist with the case, Tibbs conducts the postmortem examination and thus displays his superior knowledge of criminology. Though enraged, Gillespie reluctantly acquiesces in Tibbs's findings. As the investigation gets underway, Gillespie accuses young Harvey Oberst of the murder when he catches him with the dead man's wallet, but Tibbs quickly proves that Oberst stole the wallet after he found the body. Tibbs, for his part, is so determined to establish the guilt of Eric Endicott, an influential but insolent and bigoted conservative who opposed Colbert's progressive plans for a modern factory, that he too makes a false accusation. Gradually, as Tibbs and Gillespie combine their efforts, a grudging tolerance develops between them. After Gillespie has wrongly charged his own deputy, Sam Wood, with the murder, the local tease, Delores Purdy, is dragged into the police station by her brother, who claims that she is pregnant by Wood. Upon learning about an abortionist called Mama Caleba, Tibbs visits the woman and is still with her when Delores arrives, accompanied by the actual father of her child, diner counterman Ralph Henshaw. Tibbs confronts him, and Henshaw confesses that he murdered Colbert to obtain the money for Delores' abortion. With the case closed, Gillespie drives Tibbs to the railway depot. The two men shake hands in acknowledgment of the mutual respect that has grown between them. 

Production Company: The Mirisch Corp.  
Production Text: A Norman Jewison-Walter Mirisch Production
The Norman Jewison-Walter Mirisch production
Distribution Company: United Artists Corp. (Transamerica Corp.)
Director: Norman Jewison (Dir)
  Terry Morse Jr. (1st asst dir)
  Newton Arnold (2d asst dir)
Producer: Walter Mirisch (Prod)
Writer: Stirling Silliphant (Scr)
Photography: Haskell Wexler (Dir of photog)
  Ralph Gerling (Cam op)
  Don Stott (Gaffer)
  Morris Rosen (Key grip)
Art Direction: Paul Groesse (Art dir)
Film Editor: Hal Ashby (Film ed)
  Byron Brandt (Asst film ed)
Set Decoration: Robert Priestley (Set dec)
  Stephen R. Ferry (Property)
Costumes: Alan Levine (Men's cost)
Music: Quincy Jones (Mus)
  Richard Carruth (Mus ed)
Sound: Walter Goss (Sd)
  Charles Cooper (Sd)
  Kevin Cleary (Sd)
  Clem Portman (Re-rec)
  James Richard (Sd ed)
Special Effects: Murray Naidich (Titles)
Make Up: Del Armstrong (Makeup)
Production Misc: Allen K. Wood (Prod supv)
  James E. Henderling (Prod mgr)
  J. Howard Joslin (Unit prod mgr)
  Meta Rebner (Scr supv)
  Hal Ashby (Asst to the prod)
  Lynn Stalmaster (Casting)
Country: United States
Language: English
Series: Virgil Tibbs

Music:
Songs: "In the Heat of the Night," music by Quincy Jones, lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, sung by Ray Charles; "Foul Owl," music by Quincy Jones, lyrics by Marilyn Bergman and Alan Bergman.
Composer: Alan Bergman
  Marilyn Bergman
  Quincy Jones
Source Text: Based on the novel In the Heat of the Night by John Ball (New York, 1965).
Authors: John Ball

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Mirisch Corp. 2/8/1967 dd/mm/yyyy LP34525

Physical Properties: col: Deluxe
  Sd: Westrex Sound
  Widescreen/ratio:

 
Genre: Drama
 
Subjects (Major): African Americans
  Murder
  Police chiefs
  Police detectives
  Racism
  United States--South
 
Subjects (Minor): Abortions
  Brothers and sisters
  Butlers
  City-country contrast
  Deputies
  Diners (Restaurants)
  Factories
  False arrests
  Mississippi
  Police
  Pregnancy
  Small town life
  Widows

Note: As noted in contemporary sources, In the Heat of the Night was shot on location in Sparta, IL and in Tennessee, with some studio work completed in Los Angeles. Sidney Poitier revised the role of "Virgil Tibbs" in 1970's They Call Me MISTER Tibbs and 1971's The Organization (see entries below). In the Heat of the Night was ranked 75th on AFI's 2007 100 Years…100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   21 Jun 1967   p. 3, 7.
Filmfacts   1967   pp. 171-73.
Films and FIlming   Nov 1967   pp. 21-22.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Jun 1967   p. 3.
Life   28 Jul 1967   p. 10.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner   24 Aug 1967.   
Los Angeles Times   23 Aug 1967.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   21 Jun 1967   p. 696.
New York Times   3 Aug 1967   Section III, p. 26.
New Yorker   5 Aug 1967   p. 64.
Newsweek   14 Aug 1967.   
Saturday Review   8 Jul 1967   p. 39.
Saturday Review   19 Aug 1967   p. 45.
Time   11 Aug 1967   p. 72.
Variety   21 Jun 1967   p. 6.
Village Voice   17 Aug 1967   p. 21.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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