[[quoteright:348:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/pk_obit_steiger_b_w_806.jpg]]

->'''''[[TheyCallMeMisterTibbs "They call me Mister Tibbs!"]]'''''
-->-- '''Det. Virgil Tibbs'''

A 1965 novel by John Ball, '''''In the Heat of the Night''''' also spawned a film and a television series. The film version, directed by Creator/NormanJewison and starring Creator/RodSteiger and Creator/SidneyPoitier, was the [[AcademyAward Oscar]] winner for Best Picture of 1967.

On his way back home after visiting his mother, Black Philadelphian Virgil Tibbs (Poitier) is arrested on suspicion of the murder of a prominent factory owner in Sparta, Mississippi. In his one phone conversation, he reveals that he's actually a homicide detective back 'up North', and is told by his superiors that he should assist the locals in solving the case -- partnered with the casually racist Police Chief Bill Gillespie (Steiger). It's a rocky start to the partnership, but the more Tibbs displays his detective prowess, the more Gillespie comes to respect him. Working together, and fighting together against the truly rabid racism of some of the local rednecks, they solve the case.

Twenty years later the film spawned a TV series [[TheOtherDarrin with different actors]], [[Series/InTheHeatOfTheNight which has its own page]].
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!!This film contains examples of:
* AngryBlackMan: Tibbs has every reason for his patience to be tested, and he later admits that his anger got him on the wrong track for a bit.
* BackAlleyDoctor: Mama Caleba, the town abortionist.
* BookEnds: Tibbs arriving in town by train, Tibbs leaving town by train.
* CaliforniaDoubling: Though the film is set in Mississippi, the '60s political climate necessitated filming in Illinois.
** Specifically, Poitier refused to shoot south of the Mason-Dixon line. Why? Because of an unpleasant experience some months earlier involving himself, Harry Belafonte, and a group of [[SarcasmMode friendly]] Klansmen. (A few scenes were, however, shot in Tennessee -- most notably Endicott's cotton field, which Illinois couldn't provide.)
* CharacterTics: Gillespie chews gum constantly.
* DeepSouth
* DontYouDarePityMe: Gillespie - seriously, don't, he gets ''scary''.
* FalseRapeAccusation: [[spoiler:Or statutory rape, anyway. [[JailBait Delores Purdy]] accuses Sam Wood of impregnating her to cover for Ralph Henshaw.]]
* FeetFirstIntroduction: Tibbs, disembarking from the train during the opening credits. We don't see his face (or see him again at all) until some ten minutes into the film.
* HeatWave: It's summer in Mississippi, after all.
* LondonEnglandSyndrome: When they first meet, Tibbs tells Gillespie he's from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ''not'' Philadelphia, Mississippi.
* MommasBoy: The reason Tibbs was in Sparta in the first place was that he was on his way back from visiting his mother.
* NobleBigotWithABadge: Gillespie starts out as one. By the end of the movie, he can hardly even be called a bigot.
** Tibbs briefly slips into this territory for a moment as well, enraged from being slapped by a plantation owner:
---> '''Tibbs:''' I can pull that fat cat down and bring him right off this hill!
---> '''Gillespie:''' Oh, boy... Man, you're [[NotSoDifferent just like the rest of us]], ain't ya?
* OddCouple: Gillespie and Tibbs.
* ThePeepingTom: Officer Sam Wood stops on his nightly patrol route to gawk at Delores Purdy, who parades around her kitchen in the nude.
* PoliceAreUseless: Sparta police, anyway (unless you're interested in arresting the wrong man). No wonder Mrs. Colbert insists on keeping Tibbs around.
** However, it's explained that Sparta hadn't had a murder in ages, and the small-town tactics they employ doesn't cover the severity of the case. Gillespie is competent in things like chasing down suspects, but figuring out a murder requires the forensics skills that Tibbs knows by heart.
* PragmaticAdaptation: The novel's Mr. Tibbs was a polite, non-confrontational African American; the film's Mr. Tibbs, on the other hand, is much more assertive towards the bigots around him.
* PunctuatedForEmphasis: Tibbs' best-known line qualifies.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Gillespie, of all people. Despite his racism, he's pissed to find out that his men just arrested a cop. And in his own way he more or less begs Tibbs for his help, acknowledging that he and his fellow cops can't solve a murder this complicated on their own.
* RedHerring: [[spoiler: The racially charged environment had nothing to do with the murder. It was just a mugging gone wrong.]]
* SaltAndPepper: Gillespie and Tibbs, again.
* {{Sequel}}: Poitier reprises his role in ''They Call Me Mister Tibbs!'' (1970) and ''The Organization'' (1971), both of which are set in San Francisco and feature more of a {{Blaxploitation}} flavor.
* TeethClenchedTeamwork: Gillespie isn't too thrilled to have Tibbs second-guessing him during the early part of the investigation. But when Tibbs keeps getting proved correct, Gillespie lets up on the animosity. For his part, Tibbs doesn't help ease tensions as he withholds key observations at times and keeps trying to lead the investigation ''his'' way.
* TheyCallMeMisterTibbs: The TropeNamer.
* TitleThemeTune: Performed by Music/RayCharles.
* WhamLine:
-->'''Gillespie:''' Now, just what do you do there in little ol' Pennsylvania to earn that kinda money?
-->'''Tibbs:''' I'm a ''police officer!''
** Later on, when Gillespie [[spoiler:suspects his deputy Sam of the murder]], Tibbs delivers a line which shakes the former:
---> '''Tibbs:''' [[spoiler:Sam couldn't have driven two cars.]]
* WronglyAccused: Tibbs is but the first of several people falsely blamed for the murder.
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%%!!The Novel contains examples of:
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