My first earthquake and my first hurricane all in the same week! While my earthquake experience merely consisted of feeling the building wobble for a few seconds, I suspect Hurricane Irene may cause a slightly larger impact. We are not in the evacuation zone, but to prepare for the impending storm, Kat and I have stocked up on groceries and have a "go bag" ready. There is one dilemma, though. The authorities tell us to stay indoors and keep clear of the windows to avoid potential flying debris. Since we live in such a small apartment, that essentially means we may have to sleep in the bathtub. But they also say to fill the bathtub in order to have water with which to flush the toilet in the event that the plumbing is shut off.
Kat and I are now preparing for the longest bath-time in history.
The Academy's pick for Best Picture of 1967 is our next film to go under the microscope...
In the Heat of the Night
(based on the novel by John Ball)
Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates, Lee Grant, Larry Gates, James Patterson, William Schallert, Beah Richards
5 wins, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Steiger)
When a dead man is discovered in the wee hours of the morning in Sparta, Mississippi, the police chief, Bill Gillespie (Steiger), orders Sergeant Sam Wood (Oates) to sweep the town for suspects. Waiting at the train station is a black man, Virgil Tibbs (Poitier), who quickly becomes suspect number one. Gillespie's suspicions prove unwarranted, however, when it becomes clear that Mr. Tibbs (for that is what they call him) is actually a police officer himself - a homicide detective, no less. When Gillespie confirms this with Tibbs' superior in Philadelphia, Tibbs is ordered to stay in Sparta to help the small town police force with their investigation. Neither man is particularly happy with that arrangement, but the two reluctantly work together, which often consists of Gillespie asserting his certainty of a suspect's guilt before Tibbs explains how he's wrong. With racial tensions high amongst the town's residents, Tibbs must try to stay safe while earning Gillespie's respect.
'Tense' is the first word that comes to mind when viewing In the Heat of the Night. Not only are there several moments of potential (and actual) violence that keep you on the edge of your seat, plus a genuinely absorbing police procedural storyline, but the main thrust of the narrative - that of the relationship between a white Southern police chief and a black city-dwelling homicide detective - is a particularly intense display of mutual obstinacy. The two men butt heads consistently, staring each other down with glassy eyes on many occasions. The film's languidly rousing music is the perfect complement to this tension - including the sultry theme song sung by Ray Charles - yet is used sparingly, allowing the tensest scenes to cleverly remain unscored.
Sidney Poitier's strong presence is perfect for the bullheaded Virgil Tibbs, but he unfortunately missed out on an Oscar nomination. Not so, Rod Steiger, whose gum-chewing grumblebum with the yellow-tinted sunglasses is a brilliantly fascinating portrayal to watch, very much deserving of his Best Actor win. The supporting players' performances border on stereotypical small-town hicks, but they all serve their purpose well. Beah Richards, who played Poitier's mother in the same year's Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, is superb here as a sassy back-room abortionist.