September burns so brightly that it is a very rational thing for many of us to huddle together in a darkened auditorium and watch a classic film. This next Friday is no exception as the Film Club presents IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967), directed by Norman Jewison. Canadian born, Jewison moved to London in the late 40’s and wrote scripts for the BBC, then returned to Toronto in 1952 and spent a decade writing, directing and acting for the CBC. He was a producer on THE JUDY GARLAND SHOW (1963-64). He has directed 42 films. Starting in 1960, his first four films were all comedies, then he gave us THE CINCINNATI KID (1965). Some of my personal favorites of his films include THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1968), FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1971), ROLLERBALL (1975), AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (1979), and MOONSTRUCK (1987)
Jewison hitchhiked across the Deep South region of the US at age 18; he was struck by its apartheid-like, strictly enforced racial segregation. He considers The Hurricane (1999) the last in a trilogy of racial injustice movies he’s directed, the first two being In the Heat of the Night (1967) and A Soldier’s Story (1984). Jewison cast a then largely unknown Denzel Washington in “A Soldier’s Story”, then coupled him with Rod Steiger in The Hurricane (1999). He was the original director of Malcolm X (1992), however had to withdraw from the project due to outside pressure demanding that the subject be made by a black film-maker.
Jewison said, “People always tell me, “Gee, you direct so many movies” as if that’s unusual. But I made my mind up when I was young that what’s most important for a director is to keep working. Because how else are you going to learn how to do new things, which – to me – is the whole point. So I make a lot of different movies and I love them all . . . The movies that address civil rights and social justice are the ones that are dearest to me.”
The film was created by super stars:
It was based on a novel by John Ball, with a stunning screenplay by Sterling Silliphant, who from 1950 penned 65 screenplays, including THE SLENDER THREAD (1965), CHARLY (1968), MARLOWE (1969), THE NEW CENTURIANS (1972), and THE TOWERING INFERNO (1975).
The very talented Quincy Jones wrote the film’s musical score. He has composed music for 54 films, including THE PAWNBROKER (1964), THE SLENDER THREAD (1965), IN COLD BLOOD (1967), THE HELL WITH HEROES (1968), THEY CALL ME MISTER TIBBS! ((1970), BROTHER JOHN (1971), THE GETAWAY (1972), and THE COLOR PURPLE (1985).
The cinematographer was Haskell Wexler, considered one of the ten most influential cinematographers in Hollywood history. He has lensed 72 films, including HOODLUM PRIEST (1961), AMERICA, AMERICA (1963), WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966), THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1968), THE CONVERSATION (1974), BOUND FOR GLORY (1976), COMING HOME (1978), MATEWAN (1985) and MULHOLLAND FALLS (1996).
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967)
Directed by Norman Jewison @ 109 minutes.
The film stars Rod Steiger, Sidney Poitier, Warren Oates, Lee Grant, Scott Wilson, William Schallert, William Prince, and Matt Clark.
Synopsis: A black Philadelphia homicide detective traveling through Sparta, Mississippi, is first arrested for murder, and then asked to help solve the case. He agrees, but finds his efforts thwarted by a bigoted hardhead town sheriff; but they learn to set aside their differences and work together in order to find the truth.
Tagline: “They got murder on their minds–but they don’t know what to do with it.”
This film won five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Writing, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound.
TRIVIA: The film editor for IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT was Hal Ashby, who later directed BOUND FOR GLORY (1976), and he hired Haskell Wexler to shoot it.
Rod Steiger was asked by director Norman Jewison to chew gum when playing the part. He resisted at first but then grew to love the idea,and eventually went through 263 packs of gum during the shooting of the film. The scene that took place at the sheriff’s house featured dialog that came out of improvisations between Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger. Frequently cited as Sidney Poitier‘s favorite of all the films he’s done. Due to the assassination of civil rights activist Martin Luther King (April 4, 1968), the presentation of the Best Picture Oscar for this film was postponed for two days.
So come in out of the stifling Indian Summer heat, and join us this Friday, September 16, to watch Norman Jewison’s multi-award winning film IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967). It will be shown at the Tacoma Film Club’s meeting hall at 924 Broadway, in the Pythian Temple, street level, across from Theater on the Square, in the heart of Tacoma’s Theater District. Look for the club’s huge banner out front, easy to spot from Broadway. For those of you who like fellowship and fine food, come early and join others of like mind. The Phantom Director and Farishta will be offering a scrumptious meal, served at 6:15 p.m.; and it’s always something wonderful. We will have another DVD giveaway door prize, a movie from my personal collection. IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT will screen at 7:15 p.m. and it runs 109 minutes, so it will conclude near 9:00 p.m. Bring a friends; they are always welcome too. See you at the movies!