Monday, February 13, 2012

In the Heat of the Night - #75 Greatest American Movie

Sidney Poitier soars again in In the Heat of the Night.  A murder of a prominent businessman in the deep south leads the police to round up anyone who looks suspicious.  Their first victim is a northern black man at the train station.  He is assumed guilty and arrested without being allowed to speak a word.  When the police chief interrogates him, he discovers that the accused "negro" is not only innocent but is also a hot-shot homicide detective from Philadelphia. 
Poitier stays on to help solve the case, somewhat unwillingly at first, and then stubbornly and defiantly later.  His presence and obvious investigative superiority are unsettling for this small racist town.  He is continually called "boy" even as he proves his intelligence and acumen again and again.  Finally, of course, he solves the case and wins the reluctant respect of the chief.
This film was both political commentary (exposing the foolish and derogatory attitudes of racism) and motivational piece (encouraging equality and merit based work and social environments).  As such, it was extremely effective.
The Josh rating is easy on this one.  It was good through and through: JJJJJ.

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