Mary Conti’s review published on Letterboxd:
**Part of the Best Picture Project**
Special 1967 Introduction of: Racial Violence
Rarely do I see it mentioned, but I feel as if In the Heat of the Night is one of the many films that help bridge film noir into neo-noir. Granted, the film isn't completely noir in either sense but it has a lot of elements from both that help make the transfer.
In The Heat of the Night is a decidedly normal detective story with a catch: The main detective is black in a racist white town, which constantly impedes his investigation. In The Heat of the Night lives and dies on Sidney Poitier's performance and his chemistry with white police chief Bill Gillespie (A fantastic understated Rod Steiger).
While the film's progressive holdings end up dating the film's effectiveness, it is nonetheless a great film with a more than solid murder story at the forefront and a handful of twists that keep the story turning. Even beyond racial politics, the growing friendship between Poitier and Steiger allow the film to maintain an emotional weight when its political ambitions have lost their luster.
In The Heat of the Night is a great and entertaining film that no doubt had its hands in helping civil rights. Its Best Picture win might have caused it to be the subject of petty debates, but it is regardless a very noteworthy film.