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Film / They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970)
aka: They Call Me Mister Tibbs

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They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (the opening title card actually says They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!) is a 1970 film directed by Gordon Douglas. It is a sequel to 1967 film In the Heat of the Night.

Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier), last seen having to catch a murderer while dealing with Mississippi racists in that film, is back home in San Francisco. In the opening scene, a prostitute named Joy Sturges is bludgeoned to death in her apartment. The prime suspect, based on an anonymous tip, is Rev. Logan Sharpe (Martin Landau), a crusading left-wing minister who is in the final days of a campaign to pass a controversial ballot proposition which will allow for "home rule" in San Francisco's various ethnic enclaves.

Virgil has a hard time believing this, both because of what an upstanding man Logan is (when he's not leading a social justice crusade, he's coaching youth football in the inner city), and the fact that they have been good friends for 18 years. Suspicion eventually falls on Woody Garfield (Ed Asner, wearing a toupee), a sleazy businessman who may have been Joy's pimp, and Rice Weedon, the even sleazier owner of Joy's building, who happens to be part of a drug-smuggling ring.


A subplot involves Virgil's home life. His marriage is solid but his wife Valerie wishes he'd spend more time at home. Meanwhile, his pre-teen son Andy is becoming quite the hellraiser, hitting his little sister and smoking cigarettes at home.

Quincy Jones composed the score (as he did for In the Heat of the Night). This film was followed two years later by The Organization, the third and last film in which Poitier played Virgil Tibbs.

Does not actually feature the trope They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!. Both trope and movie are named after a famous line from In the Heat of the Night.



  • Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: Mealie the dimwitted janitor comes into Joy's apartment, sees her dead on the floor, sees a bloody paperweight on the floor. He picks up the paperweight, and thus becomes a murder suspect.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Andy is a little hellion, never cleaning his room, scattering his sister's toys everywhere and refusing to pick them up, hitting his little sister, and smoking cigarettes with his buddy despite being maybe 10 years old.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Tibbs notices that the usually humble Logan is wearing a necklace. It's his, but it turns out that Joy Sturges used to wear it. This link is how Tibbs confirms that his old friend Logan actually is the killer.
  • Comforting Comforter: Virgil shows he's a loving father by tucking his little daughter Ginger into bed.
  • Driven to Suicide: It turns out that Logan actually was having an affair with Joy Sturges, and he really did kill her. With the election happening the very next day, Logan begs his old friend Virgil Tibbs to delay his arrest 24 hours. Tibbs refuses. Moments later, after they've left the church on their way to the police station, Logan kills himself by stepping out in front of a truck.
  • Dutch Angle: The scene where Tibbs looks into a car and finds a dead Weedon is shot from an extreme tilted angle, with a camera that apparently was put in the passenger footwell.
  • Excited Show Title!: They Call Me Mister Tibbs!, or even They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!.
  • Fanservice: Opens with a gorgeous topless hooker—as she scornfully tells an unseen man that he's pathetic and bad in bed. Turns to Fan Disservice when he starts strangling her.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: Tibbs chases Weedon through Chinatown. It's mostly for the exotic backgrounds.
  • Match Cut: From a paperweight being swung down onto a prostitute's skull, to garbage being thrown in a dumpster.
  • P.O.V. Cam: Used in the opening scene in which a naked Joy is giving someone a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. The unseen POV character promptly strangles her before bashing her skull in with a paperweight.
  • Radish Cure: Virgil deals with catching Andy smoking cigarettes by making him drink liquor and smoke a cigar. Andy barfs.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • In In the Heat of the Night Tibbs says he is unmarried. Three years later he's got a wife and two school-age children.
    • Also, he lives in San Francisco, and he has for a while—he's known Logan for 18 years and his supervisor at the SFPD mentions that he's been with them for 12 years. In In the Heat of the Night he says he's from Philadelphia.
  • Turbulent Priest: A low-key version. Logan Sharpe is a left-wing activist priest who, as the film opens, is in the final days of a drive to pass Proposition 4, a controversial proposal which will give "home rule" to San Francisco's various neighborhoods.
    Logan: We simply want what we're supposed to have: government by the consent of the governed.

Alternative Title(s): They Call Me Mister Tibbs


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