Monday, January 07, 2008

in the heat of the night

In the Heat of the Night was a very interesting movie and it was more of a sleuthing movie instead of a buddy cop film. Right from their very first meeting it was apparent that Mr. Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) and Chief Gillespie (Rod Steiger) were not considered equals. The chief kept referring to Tibbs as “boy” and constantly tried to put him in his place throughout the film until the very end when they finally came to terms. Tibbs never accepted any of the insults thrown his way and constantly stood up for himself whether it was the threat of a physical brawl or remaining confidant and collected when asked, “what are you doing wearing white man’s clothes?” While race was very much so an issue in the film, In the Heat of the Night also had a lot to do with class. Tibbs was from the north, successful, and prominent in his line of work. He was constantly reminded how out of place he was in Sparta, Mississippi. The black automotive worker laughed in his face at the suggestion of staying at a hotel in town. The group of white men threatened to beat him to death for being a black out of towner. Mr. Tibbs personal vendetta against Mr. Endicott captures both the racial, and class aspects of the film. Entering the house they passed workers picking cotton, there was a black jockey lawn figure that Chief Gillespie patted on the head. Tibbs remarked that he could bring Mr. Endicott down from his house on the hill which refers to both his status and the racial undertones that accompany that. One subtle yet prominent moment in the film happened after Tibbs slapped Mr. Endicott in the face and walked out of the green house. Standing there was Mr. Endicott and his black servant holding a tray of lemonade. As Mr. Endicott stood there and apparently wept the black servant looked him dead in the eye, shook his head, and then left the room. It wasn’t clear whether the action had to deal with pity or defiance and I’m aware that it has nothing to do with the Tibbs story line however I did view this moment as something of significance.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Colby said...

I agree with Natalie that Tibbs did a really good job of standing up for himself under such harsh circumstances. He is a black man trying to pass through this small unknown Southern town in the middle of the night not knowing anyone when all of a sudden he’s accused of murder. From the look on Tibbs face as he’s arrested he knows it’s on unrealistic terms but he complies with everything asked of him while still maintaining his dignity.

11:08 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I also agree that Tibbs kept his cool and ground - although I did catch a moment where he was talking with the chief right after dealing with the whole incident with Mr. Endicott where he asks for more time to work on the case because he's so close to being able to bring the "fat cat" down. I wasn't real sure about the scene where Mr. Endicott is crying and his servant shakes his head at him. I don't know if it was to show shame, humiliation, frustration at how the times are changing, I don't know. I'm sure it was of some significance like Natalie mentioned, but I'm not realy sure what it is.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Sweet Sweetback (DIrvin) said...

It was very interesting that every other black character in the movie was a lower working class, uneducated individuals. Tibbs was by far the most articulate black person in the entire movie. Tibbs even gets Gillespie to open up to him over some drinks. He is even allowed in Gillespie's home, when Gillespie usually never allows anyone white or black into his home. That scene shows that both of them have grown as people.

11:36 PM  

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