August 1, 2020

Anniversary In the Heat of the Night

The premiere of the film "In the Heat of the Night" took place on August 2, 1967 in New York. Director Norman Jewison.

In my student years in the second half of the 70s, I happened to read John Ball’s detective novel “Stuffy Night in Carolina”. I liked and remembered the novel. Even then, I heard that a film was made from this novel, which was popular all over the world, but this film was not shown in the USSR. Communist ideologists who loudly denounced racism in America did not miss this anti-racist film on the screens of Soviet cinemas. Only in the 90s, when ideological barriers collapsed and access to the classics of world cinema opened, I watched the movie "In the Heat of the Night". Moreover, before watching the film, I did not know that this was an adaptation of the very same John Ball novel. The names are different.

Honestly, the film impressed me a little less than the novel. Perhaps due to the fact that by the middle of the film I remembered the content of the novel, read more than 20 years earlier. And when you watch a detective and you know its ending, the impression is reduced. Or maybe just youthful impressions were sharper than the impressions of a completely adult person, burdened with everyday experience, as well as an abundance of foreign film detectives viewed by that time. However, it very often happens that a book makes a better impression than the film set on it.

But this is my private opinion. And if we turn to objective indicators: the opinion of film critics, the ratings of the mass audience, the recognition of the cinematic community - then the situation is as follows.

The film has won 22 cinematic awards, including 5 Academy Awards and 3 Golden Globes. Among the won Oscars - the most important - in the Best Picture nomination, and among the won Golden Globes - also the most important - in the Best Dramatic Film nomination. Norman Jewison was nominated for Best Director for both Academy Awards and Golden Globes, but lost on both occasions to Mike Nichols, the director of "The Graduate".

In 1968, "In the Heat of the Night" was nominated for the British BAFTA Award for Best Film from any Source, but the winner was Fred Zinnemann's "Man for All Seasons". The company of relative "losers" to Norman Jewison's film was "Un homme et une femme (A Man and А Woman)" by Claude Lelouch and "Bonnie and Clyde" by Arthur Penn.

Film critics overwhelmingly gave the film praise. Roger Ebert included the film in the list of 10 best American films of 1967. However, he did not include it in his list of "Great Movies". Ebert noted the brilliant play of Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier, but in relation to the film as a whole, wrote that "The story itself was slightly too pat". But Bosley Crowther from The New York Times, on the contrary, reproached the film for allegedly narrowing the scope raging in many places of America racial hatred and prejudice, the framework of one fictitiously isolated ugly small town of Mississippi". At the same time, he called John Ball’s novel unremarkable. (The New York Times, August 3, 1967, стр. 26)

70% of IMDB and Kinopoisk users gave the film an 8 or higher rating. Based on these figures, the film has a rating of 8.163 according to FilmGourmand and is ranked 514th in the Golden Thousand.