In the Heat of the Night ★★★★

The Todd Gaines Challenge #6 of 10: A movie starring Warren Oates

In the Heat of the Night is a powerful crime classic with a great soundtrack that handles its subject matter effectively, putting a Philidelpha-born African American Detective Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) in the middle of a racist Southern town and giving him a murder to solve whilst also having to contend with the Police Chief Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger), who is pressured into getting the case solved quickly and thinks that Tibbs is his number one suspect when he's spotted carrying a significant amount of money. This causes Tibbs to want to leave as quickly as possible upon receiving the racist treatment towards him, but his own Chief has questions concerning Tibbs and wants him to stay and help.

In the Heat of the Night is a well acted film with some good performances from pretty much everyone involved. Poitier, Steiger and Oates all put in impressive displays and the atmosphere that the film creates really helps you get a good sense of its location and era. On paper it looks just like a simple conflict between Tibbs and a group of Southern racists but actually, In the Heat of the Night is far more complex than that, touching on its issues well and manages to handle it with just the right amount of subtly.

The film is well deserving of its five Academy Awards including its best picture win, with director Norman Jewison working to get the best out of everybody involved. It's a classic that is currently available on Netflix UK, is well-paced, smart and watchable. If you're looking for powerful crime drama then you can't go far wrong with In the Heat of the Night.