It’s Black History Month, and we’re sitting down for The Unenthusiastic Critic’s first viewing of Norman Jewison’s Oscar-winning thriller In the Heat of the Night (1967).
First, we’re taking a long look at the career of the great Sidney Poitier, who changed Hollywood forever. Then, we’re sitting down for one of his greatest performances, as MISTER Virgil Tibbs, the Philadelphia detective who partners uneasily with Rod Steiger’s bigoted white cop to solve a Mississippi murder.
In the Heat of the Night was released in the long, hot summer of 1967—as race riots burned all over America—and proved to be the hot-button film of its troubled moment. But what will The Unenthusiastic Critic make of it more than 50 years later?
It’s a thoughtful and lively discussion of black perfectionism, white fragility, and underage exhibitionism, as Nakea explains how sometimes you gotta be a Sidney, and sometimes you gotta be a Shaft.
0:00: Prologue: from 48 Hours (1982)
0:45: Preliminary Conversation: Black History Month and Sidney Poitier
22:45: Interlude: Poitier Accepts AFI Life Achievement Award, 1992
23:32: Cultural Osmosis: Pre-Viewing Discussion
35:25: Interlude: Original Trailer
37:38: The Verdict: Post-Viewing Discussion
1:19:12 Outro and Next Week’s Movie
Notes and Links
—Movie Reviewed: In the Heat of the Night (dir. Norman Jewison, United Artists, 1967).
—Prologue: from 48 Hours (dir. Walter Hill, Paramount, 1982).
—Links and Resources: “Sidney Poitier, 1967, and One of the Most Remarkable Runs in Hollywood History,” Laura Jacobs, Vanity Fair; Sidney Poitier Accepts the 20th AFI Life Achievement Award, 1992; Rod Steiger wins Best Actor, Academy Awards, 1968; “The Best Movies of 1967,” Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com; “John Ridley on the Lasting Legacy of In the Heat of the Night,” John Ridley, Vanity Fair; “‘12 Years a Slave,’ ‘Mother of George,’ and the aesthetic politics of filming black skin,” Ann Hornaday, Washington Post.
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