When I saw this film
(Filmed in 1967), it blew me away. Everything
about this film. The tension
is what sets the film apart: (almost) every scene builds to a climax involving confrontation
s between two (or more) characters; the whole film itself builds
the tension in the usual ways to the climax
of the film, then lets it go in one exhalation
, with the criminal captured, and the antagonists demonstrating their mutual respect
The plot of the film is that a man is murdered in the deep American south (Sparta, Mississippi), where Jim Crow may be dead, but not buried. The local sheriff (Rod Steiger) can't cope, and sends for help. He gets sent a black detective from Philadelphia to solve the murder. The detective, Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) has to contend with racism, a central theme of the film, and the cause of much tension. He demonstrates his skills, and coupled with the fact that the murder can't be buried (The body belonged to a wealthy northern industrialist), the local sheriff works with Tibbs, eventually coming to respect him. This performance of racist-but-pragmatic sheriff won Steiger an Oscar.
The viewing audience loved this film so much that it resulted in sequels such as "They call me Mr. Tibbs" (Named after the line in this film "What do they call you in Philadelphia?" "They call me Mr. Tibbs"), and (as Jet-Poop tells me - m4d pr0pzz!) a tv series. It started in the late 80's, featuring Carrol O'Connor as Sheriff Gillespie and Howard E. Rollins, Jr. as Virgil Tibbs. Apparently, it had "Much less racial tension".
The camera work, lighting, and sound all combine to create the right mood, finely manipulating the viewer. This film has to be seen to be believed: If you found this WU lacking, it is because whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent.