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Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Duration: 109 Minutes

Rating: 14A

In the Heat of the Night

Part of our ‘Whodunnit at the Westdale’ Film Talk Series!

A body is discovered, evidence is collected, and there are several suspects. The only question on everyone’s mind is, ‘Whodunnit?’ To find out, join Jeffrey Bender as he takes you through the realm of the detective story, one of cinema’s oldest storytelling forms that has recently undergone a popular resurgence. Stepping back into the genre’s heyday of the 60s and 70s, three classics not only address the identity of the killer, but also of the social and cultural forces that conspired together to enthrall their audiences. Solving these cases will be murder…

Passing through the backwoods town of Sparta, Mississippi, Philadelphia detective Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) becomes embroiled in a murder case. He forms an uneasy alliance with the bigoted police chief (Rod Steiger), who faces mounting pressure from Sparta’s hostile citizens to catch the killer and run the African American interloper out of town. Director Norman Jewison splices incisive social commentary into this thrilling police procedural with the help of Haskell Wexler’s vivid cinematography, Quincy Jones’s eclectic score, and two indelible lead performance – a career-defining display of seething indignation and moral authority from Poitier and an Oscar-winning master class in Method acting from Steiger. Winner of five Academy Awards, including for best picture, In the Heat of the Night is one of the most enduring Hollywood films of the civil rights era.

Jeffrey Bender

Jeffrey Bender has hosted a number of in-person and online Film Talks with the Westdale, most recently on a series of films focused on The Lives of Artists in a wide variety of artistic media. He returns this summer to host a ‘It’s Good to be the King! A Mel Brooks Select-rospective’, as well as ‘Whodunnit at the Westdale’, a three-film survey of classic murder-mysteries that redefined the genre.