Awesome / In the Heat of the Night

Film.In The Heat Of The Night

  • Sidney Poitier's crowning moment of awesome in indisputably when a rich white bigot slapped Poitier's character, Det. Virgil Tibbs, for daring to question him on suspicion of murder. To the shock of white viewers and the delight of black ones, Tibbs instantly slaps the bigot back, an act that was previously unthinkable for African American characters in mainstream Hollywood films.
    • This belongs in the Real Life section, but Poitier had what amounts to a Crowning Decade of Awesome: from 1961 to 1969, he starred in (among others) A Raisin in the Sun, Lilies Of The Field (for which he became the first black man to win the Academy Award), The Greatest Story Ever Told, To Sir With Love, In the Heat of the Night, and Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.
    • It gets better: the original script had Tibbs simply accepting the slap, with the idea supposedly being that he was showing himself to be the bigger man. Poitier himself insisted that audiences wouldn't see it that way, and he had to slap the guy back.
    • "They call me Mr. Tibbs!"
  • Gillespie gets one when he rescues Tibbs from an angry mob of white Supremacists that tried to kill him. Despite him wanting Virgil to leave in the first place.
  • Tibbs talking his way out of another angry lynch mob by getting the mob leader to realize why his sister was at an abortionist's home with the man who really got her pregnant.