IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967)

There was a new audience for movies about race in 1967 and this film captured its affections and respect. When a Chicago businessman is murdered in a sleepy Mississippi town, the first person picked up is a black man (Sidney Poitier) from out of town. He turns out to be a Philadelphia police detective and before long he’s schooling the local sheriff (Rod Steiger) in how to solve crimes the modern way, and teaching the local community leaders that this is one black man who won’t defer to their systemic racism. With great performances from Poitier and Steiger (who won the Oscar for Best Actor), a strong supporting cast including Lee Grant, taut editing from Oscar-winner Hal Ashby, groundbreaking cinematography by Haskell Wexler, a jazz score by Quincy Jones and Norman Jewison’s capable direction, the film was a box-office winner and the Academy’s Best Picture of the year. It also helped make Poitier the first black actor to become the nation’s number one box-office star and opened the screen to more positive treatments of racial diversity. (d. Norman Jewison, 109m, DCP)

In attendance: LEE GRANT, NORMAN JEWISON, QUINCY JONES, WALTER MIRISCH, SIDNEY POITIER