Monday, January 07, 2008

Not a Buddy Cop Movie.

In the heat of the night was far more about race that it was a real buddy cop movie. It was not the formulaic cop movie at all. It didn’t involve two buddy cops becoming friends and using common skills to work together. No, this movie was far from the Action movie that Lethal Weapon was that involved the teaming up of the white and the black cop to solve a crime. This movie is also far from a comedy, this cop movie is a drama and it’s not a gritty cop feature with a modern urban setting. Instead it takes place in a small town and deal with very dramatic issues such as race and teen pregnancy. The setting and formula is far different than the movies we watched for Monday. In this movie, Race is in fact a key issue in the movie, unlike Beverly Hills Cop and Lethal Weapon where they were not the focus of the movie. In this movie, when white policemen feel threatened and emasculated to know that a black cop from the north, not only is better at solving homicides, but also that he makes more money than they do in their small town of Sparta Mississippi. The police chief Gillespie starts out despising Tibbs, played by Poitier, but he eventually lets him solve his case and eventually learns to respect his work as a police officer even though he still has his own racial biases. He learns to overcome them to a degree and even come to the aid of Tibbs when he assaulted by four white citizens. Tibbs grew as a character as well, he learned to accept and get along with many of the cops in the Sparta precinct.

Guerrero talks about how Poitier often plays roles that give in to whites and are not strong black characters. Tibbs seemed to be an exception. He reluctantly works with white people for the good of justice and a widow’s wish. Tibbs is a very strong black character who is fearless to give in to white demands. This can be seen in the way Tibbs refuses to leave town even after multiple attempts on his life. Another example is the way he slaps the cotton field owner back after he is slapped, and finally his refusal to give up on a case even when he is told to stop.


Blogger Christina said...

I definitely agree about this being an exception movie. This film did not seems to fit the usual buddy cop genre - Virgil and the chief were constantly battling each other and there really was no positive resolution in the end between them two. The only part the film shows that they are somewhat friendly with each other is when they shake hands at the train station and the chief tells Virgil to take care of himself.

In a way the film could be related to Beverly Hills Cop in that Virgil somewhat gets the white cops around him to see his ways and how they are correct and to somewhat follow them. It's not very clear in the end, but I think it's kind of implied when they see that he solved the case.

Altogether I felt this film was an exception to a lot of what we read in the books - but it was still a very catching film and definitely touched on racism.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Brad T said...

I agree that the film was about race, and I wonder whether Gillespie ever truly got over Virgil’s race. Even in the scene where Virgil is threatened by white thugs, which occurs rather late in the movie, Gillespie displays remnants of racism. Consider how Virgil was treated when he was first found and arrested versus the way Gillespie deals with the white thugs. They are not arrested, and are actually told to just leave until they continue to push it. Then Gillespie dismisses them with a punch to the gut, still allowing them to escape legal repercussions. Would the same treatment be given to four black thugs attacking a white man?
Side note: There was a sign just behind Virgil near the end of the fight that read “Let us all be alert, we don’t want ANYONE hurt.”

11:40 PM  
Blogger Alexandria Vazquez said...

I agree as well, i found the absence of campy dialogue and silly situations refreshing in this movie and was surprised when it turned into such a gripping murder mystery. The absence of certain stereotypes was interestingly replaced by important issues like race and prejudice. Although i see the change in the movie compare to Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cops i did see a creeping of stereotyping for Gillespie's character. I half expected his to get in his car and buy donuts at some point of the film.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Hayden Cadwalader said...

I agree with Sweet, and make the step that this is NOT a buddy cop film, because of the animosity between the two, which lasts practically until the end of the movie. Though they work together to solve the crime, it is more of a cop drama, since Tibbs solves the crime almost entirely by himself, and even is the one who aprehends the murderer. It accurately portrayed what it would have been the tension between Tibbs and Gilespie, and showed the racist attitudes of some of the people of Sparta. This is more of a mystery genre than a "buddy cop" film. It lacks some of the important elements of a buddy cop film that we discussed. Though it is a great film, I believe that it does not fit the genre of the "buddy cop" film.

10:27 AM  

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