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1967 saw Sidney Poitier in In The Heat of the Night, a groundbreaking Sixties film with Poitier as Lieutenant Virgil Tibbs, a Philadelphia detective sent to investigate a murder and butt heads with a small-town Southern police chief (Rod Steiger). Faced with racially-charged hostility and resentment, Tibbs pursued the facts of the case doggedly and won the grudging respect of his law-enforcement counterpart Chief Gillespie.
By 1970, Tibbs' situation had changed somewhat; the policeman had relocated to San Francisco and was faced with problems at home, with a rocky marriage and a rebellious adolescent son. When he's assigned to the murder of a prostitute, all the evidence points towards his friend, Reverend Logan Sharpe (Martin Landau). They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! dispenses with much of In The Heat of the Night's racial complexities (with no Steiger to serve as Poitier's foil), and winds up more along the lines of a pure action picture. With Quincy Jones' funky score and Tibbs' early-Seventies fashions, it almost has the feel of a 'blaxploitation' film from the period.
Director Gordon Douglas, veteran of films such as Slaughter's Big Rip-Off (1973), Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964) and the Fifties big-bug saga Them! (1954) provided plenty of punch for Tibbs' action segments. Don't go in expecting a great deal of social commentary, and They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! delivers a satisfying bill of goods.
Director: Gordon Douglas
Producer: Herbert Hirschman, Walter Mirisch (executive)
Screenplay: Alan Trustman, James R. Webb
Cinematography: Gerald Perry Finnerman
Music: Quincy Jones
Art Direction: Addison Hehr
Cast: Sidney Poitier (Lieutenant Virgil Tibbs), Martin Landau (Reverend Logan Sharpe), Barbara McNair (Valerie Tibbs), Anthony Zerbe (Rice Weedon), Edward Asner (Woody Garfield), Jeff Corey (Captain Hank Marden), Norma Crane (Marge Garfield).
C-108m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Jerry Renshaw