In the Heat of the Night: Racism in the American South

  • Interest area: racial tensions in the Southern States after the approval of the Civil Rights Act; overcoming racism in the United States in the 1960s. How did negative perceptions of Black people that remained prominent after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 detrimental to society, as shown in In the Heat of the Night?
  • Context: Despite his well-earned position in the police, Virgil Tibbs is met with aggression and false accusations when he arrives in a small town in a southern state. As the movie’s plot progressed, this confrontation escalated into a life-threatening danger for Tibbs, who remained set on resolving the case no matter what. It is apparent that racism was a widely accepted behavior at that time, making cooperation with Black people nearly impossible regardless of circumstances. This tension was preventing communities from moving forward and integrating Black people into society.
  • Problematic: What representations of racism were apparent in the 1960s in American South after the Civil Rights Act, and how did they lead to further segregation of society and increases in hostility?
  • Analysis: The paper will discuss how rampant racism was preventing U.S. society in the 1960s from progressing forward as a nation.

Annotated Bibliography

Bradley, Paul J. “Important and Enduring: In the Heat of the Night.” Classic Film Journal.

Bradley’s article cannot be called fully scholarly; despite the numerous works of the author’s publication, its status is indicated on the site as uncategorized. Paul J. Bradley describes himself as an independent film and old movie enthusiast. He often analyses pieces of art from a personal point of view, highlights the central moral, and examines the most important details down to the style of filming, lighting, and representing the light. This work is important for the independent research of the film by connoisseurs and regular fans of the cinematographic field. Paul J. Bradley fairly points out that a film regarding black rights was a real revolution in old Hollywood. An unexpectedly bold plot was the story of people’s prejudice against African Americans during the country’s severe civil uprisings and human rights oppression. The author notes the magnificent play of the actors, as well as the first-ever work with special filming techniques aimed at the facial features of Americans. The information helps to explore historical facts and their artistic expression in the film.

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Heetebrij, Geert. “Subversive Christian Allegory in In the Heat of the Night (1967)”. Cristian’s Scholar Review, 2020. 

Geert Heetebrij is an Assistant Professor of Film and Media at Calvin University professional film critic with many years of experience in the film industry. When studying any art object, it is necessary to consider all sides and aspects of the issue. The article describes the specific assumptions and religious symbolism in the film, particularly the Christian religion of one of the main characters. Heetebrij’s article cites a scholarly source and is published in a reputable research journal.

Jackson, Ashawnta. “The Slap That Changed American Film-Making.” Jstor Daily, 2022. 

Jackson is a well-known writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She often writes articles about music, culture, and art, which are published in popular media. The report is not a scholarly source, as it contains a capacious analysis of the situation, which is quite impressionistic and personal. The writer examines the film through the prism of the previous and current cultural perceptions of the world and attitudes toward the black population. The article is public and is rather useful for clarifying the historical context. It sheds light on the film’s innovation regarding the importance of black lives and highlights its revolutionary nature at the end of the last century. Such publicists can appeal to historical factors that must be taken into account when analyzing a film.

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Jewison, Norman. “In the Heat of the Night Themes.” GraderSaver. 

Jewison provides short helpful notes which are objective and solid. These short footnotes help to quickly understand the history and meaning of the film and plot and analyze everything. This resource is useful for initial familiarization with the situation, followed by a thorough search and analysis of the data. The presented data is written in a convenient concise form, but this is not enough for a more coherent analysis. However, it includes good key points stating the connection of the plot of the film with race, religion, human rights, and their significance.

Mosley, Walter. “Walter Mosley on ‘In the Heat of the Night’ at 50: Does Mister Tibbs Still Matter?” The Hollywood Reporter, 2018.

The source is a scholar as its author is Walter Mosley is a renowned, experienced, award-winning writer with a long and successful career behind him. The article provided is published in a credible journal, the Hollywood Reporter. Together with Variety magazine, it has been one of the two largest American film journals in the last decade, which points to the credibility of the source. Mosley writes about the film’s plot twists and compares the context to a contemporary perspective, including the Black Lives Matter movement. The author of the article examines the film from the artistic and ideological side, sharing his impressions of watching the film back then and nowadays. Mosley is a true professional as he has worked in the film industry for many years and is currently a freelance screenwriter and reliable critic. His critiques are highly useful for the work, as Mosley professionally covers all sides and thoughts on the film, using reliable historical data and its consistent and detailed analysis.

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Works Cited

Bradley, Paul J. “Important and Enduring: In the Heat of the Night.” Classic Film Journal, 2021.

Heetebrij, Geert. “Subversive Christian Allegory in In the Heat of the Night (1967)”. Cristian’s Scholar Review, 2020.

Jackson, Ashawnta. “The Slap That Changed American Film-Making.” Jstor Daily, 2022.

Jewison, Norman. “In the Heat of the Night Themes.” GraderSaver. 

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Mosley, Walter. “Walter Mosley on ‘In the Heat of the Night’ at 50: Does Mister Tibbs Still Matter?” The Hollywood Reporter, 2018.

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