Best Movies by Farr
In the Heat of the Night Poster
Released Runtime Category
1967 109 Action/Adventure, The Essentials
Director Language
Norman Jewison English
Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Lee Grant, Warren Oates

In the Heat of the Night

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What's it About

Urban police detective Virgil Tibbs (Poitier) ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time – specifically, the Deep South, where a murder has just been committed. Being a stranger in town, Tibbs seems like a ready-made suspect, even though he’s a cop. Set up against a bigoted, wily sheriff (Steiger), Virgil must unravel the mystery and clear himself, watching his back in hostile territory.

Why we love it

This intense action drama boasts a tight script and a pair of explosive lead performances by stars Poitier and Steiger, who play off each other perfectly. "Heat" netted Oscars in most top categories that year – Picture, Actor (Steiger), Screenplay, and Editing. And though Steiger won the acting prize, it's just as much Poitier's movie. Director Jewison makes palpable the racial ignorance and poverty endemic to that time and place. Nearly half a century after its initial release, "Heat" remains a must-see film. 

BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"