Monday, January 07, 2008

In the Heat of the Night

In the Heat of the Night was a much different cop flick then we have looked at thus far. The issue of racisms was the main theme of the movie. We are introduced to the two main characters, one being the southern white cop, Office Gillespie and the other is a northern African American Cop, Virgil Tibbs. The first time the two officers meet is when Virgil is brought into the office as a suspect for murder only because he is a black man, in a small town in Mississippi where racism is strong and the people are not accepting of African Americans. As soon as the Officer Gillespie and others in the town find out that Virgil is a well paid cop from Philadelphia and will be reluctantly staying to investigate a murder, people of the town cannot believe that a black man is going to be staying in their town.

The story line of In the Heat of the Night contains many of the topics we have been discussing in class. There is the idea of the white cop, black cop. In the film Virgil is the more intelligent cop and he is teaching all of the white cops how to work in homicide whether they like it or not. This is not always easy for him because the whole town treats him differently except for Gillespie. For the most of the movie Gillespie does not want to accept the fact that an African American man could be making more money, and is the smarter cop than him. Although he feels this way he is always watching out for Virgil to make sure that no one in the town will hurt him, or ultimately kill him. Finally in the end when Virgil was right about who was the murder was Gillespie truly accepts him. When he drops him off at the train station the audience can tell that he has changed his views on African Americans by working with Virgil. This film could also relate to Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy has to teach the cops of Beverly Hills how to solve a murder. Although Murphy is not dealing with race to the same extent as Sidney Poitier was, he still wasn’t accepted by the white cops until the end of the film.


Blogger Danielle A said...

I like your idea on how the Chief started out with a certain outlook on Tibbs and later grew a great appreciation for him. I think it is important, especially in the police force, to have an understanding of people and their intentions. If a cop does not understand or see the truth behind a suspect or their colleagues it could be very difficult to solve a case or to get along with people. Trust and communication are THE essential elements in a relationship between two individuals and if these two qualities are not posessed than there will be many assumptions, problems and false accusations.

6:04 PM  
Blogger JessicaM said...

I definitely think it bothered the cops of the town when Virgil revealed himself as the number one homicide cop in his city and that he gets paid more than them. The fact that he teaches them things, such as not to assume and how to tell certain aspects of a murder really irritates the white cops. I agree that it wasn’t until Virgil solved the murder that Chief Gillespie truly realized Virgil’s talent and that he should not judge someone because of their color. I mentioned Beverly Hills Cop as well in that Axel also solved the murder and taught the white cops many things about murder as well as judgment.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

I agree with you that there is the idea of the white cop, black cop, but underlying this relationship is the race issue. Because the main character Tibbs is black the fellow white officers in Mississippi automatically assumed that he was not as intelligent as them. However what they learn from the buddy cop realtionship between Tibbs and the chief is that Virgil (a black man and cop) is intelligent as well as capable of teaching all of the white cops how to solve a homocide case. However I feel that it would take more then Tibbs and the Chief solving one case together to stop the racism in the south between the officers and the people of the town because judgements like that do not go away over night. Also I agree with you that Into the Night is similar to the plot in Beverly Hills Cop; Axel (a black cop from Detroit) also solved the murder and taught the Beverly Hills Police force an important lesson not to judge a book by its cover. However the one difference between these movies is that I feel that Beverly Hills Cop did not deal with racism while In the Heat of the Night storyline depended on this issue.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Vladigogo said...

I will rephrase a question I asked in the blog posting above.

Is it possible for someone to be racist and then after two days with someone no longer be racist? Can Gillespie change that dramatically?

Just what is Gillespie's back story and how does that help us understand him?

9:07 PM  

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