In The Heat Of The Night: 40th Anniversary Edition Norman Jewison

In The Heat Of The Night: 40th Anniversary Edition Norman Jewison
Film historians commonly cite Bonnie and Clyde or The Graduate as the best film of 1967, but In The Heat of the Night deserves as much praise for being a fine detective movie and a landmark in American culture. This DVD modestly upgrades the previous edition to illustrate this film’s historic importance. Sidney Poitier plays black Philadelphia detective Virgil Tibbs, who unexpectedly teams up with white redneck sheriff Gillespie (Rod Steiger) in the Deep South to find the killer of a prominent businessman. The detective yarn is traditional though entertaining, but the racial twist makes this film special. Remember: the film was made when urban ghettos were rioting across the States, and Freedom Riders were being killed. Ironically, the assassination of Martin Luther King delayed the 1968 Oscars, where In The Heat of the Night won best picture, editor, sound, screenplay and actor (for Steiger) honours. The commentary reprises the previous DVD release but shows how this film was a team effort of top-notch talent: legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler, Steiger, co-star Lee Grant and director Jewison. They discuss the American political climate of the turbulent ’60s as much as they impart the cinematic techniques they used. The new features include a 21-minute documentary that expands on the audio commentary to include producer Walter Mirisch, black film historians and director John Singleton, who all offer insight, not just blind praise. A featurette on Quincy Jones’s electrifying jazz score is also worthwhile. However, the best new feature is the seven–minute "Slap Heard Around the World,” which examines the historic impact of Poitier slapping back an arrogant white plantation owner suspected of murder — nothing short of a revolution in 1967. The only thing missing from this DVD is an appearance by Mr. Poitier. (MGM)