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Film / The Organization

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The Organization is a 1971 mystery thriller film directed by Don Medford.

A group of thieves breaks into the offices of Century Furniture Company in San Francisco. As it happens, the furniture supply company is a front for drug smuggling, as revealed by the $4 million in heroin the thieves steal from the coffers of Century. Factory manager John Bishop is left tied up at his desk...but when the cops arrive, he is dead. The autopsy eventually reveals that he was shot twice, with two different guns.

Detective Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) is assigned to the case. He soon gets an anonymous call telling him to be at a certain place at a certain time to learn the truth about the Alford murder. He goes to the rendezvous and is met by a group of vigilantes who say they robbed Century, and who show him the heroin to prove it. They explain that each of them has lost a loved one to heroin, and they are dedicated to taking "the organization" behind the heroin smuggling down. They insist that Bishop was alive when they left. Tibbs is initially reluctant, but soon agrees to join the vigilantes and take down the heroin ring.

The third and last movie where Sidney Poitier played Virgil Tibbs, after In the Heat of the Night and They Call Me Mister Tibbs!. Raúl Juliá appears in one of his first big movie roles as Juan, leader of the vigilante gang.


  • All for Nothing: After Tibbs gets Gloria to confess to being an accessory before the fact, he arrests Century execs Alford and Mills for murder. But as they're being transported, a sniper shoots and kills both of them, insuring that the organization will survive.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Joe the vigilante does this to get out of his own apartment because he knows the bad guys are watching the front entrance.
  • The Caper: An intricately planned robbery of Century Furniture, including having one guy pole vault over the gate, and arranging for a crane so they can get in to a fifth-floor office.
  • Driven to Suicide: When Captain Grayson of Narcotics kills himself, he is assumed to have been crooked. This is what leads Tibbs to change his mind and work with the vigilantes. Ironically, it eventually turns out that he shot himself because he was dying of leukemia.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: How the vigilantes confirm that the powdery stuff they found in the file cabinets of Century Furniture is heroin.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Done silently, as the whole opening sequence plays out without dialogue. But after the vigilantes dangle Bishop out the window, he opens the safe.
  • Silence Is Golden: There is only one line of dialogue over the first fifteen minutes of the movie, which is a nearly Real Time sequence in which the vigilantes pull off their robbery.
  • Spy Speak: The Century Furniture guys have what sounds like an innocuous conference call with their European contacts about buying stocks and whatnot. Meanwhile, after each line a person on the receiving end decodes the message, which is actually that they were robbed of their heroin, Bishop was killed, and the organization may have been infiltrated.
  • Title Drop: The drug-smuggling ring is referred to as "the organization" several times.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Tibbs is suspended from the police, complete with turning in his badge, for failing to inform his department of his cooperation with Joe.
  • Vigilante Man: A group of vigilantes dedicated to destroying a heroin ring.