I know there are a lot of people who absolutely love Norman Jewison’s 1967 Best Picture Oscar-winning film In The Heat of the Night, but I’ve always felt that it promises more than it delivers.
True, when it first came out it was a genuine sensation, and despite the fact that it was released some 46 years ago, it is still very much as relevant today as it was then.
My problem is, if you take away all the seething racial conflict and angst in the film, what you have left is a pretty routine detective mystery that you’ve seen before, more times than you can count, and, add to that, as well, Rod Steiger’s bellowing, hammy performance for which he won the Best Actor Oscar in 1968.
And then there's that famous “slap” scene that people always talk about, when Sidney Poitier slaps an old racist white guy when he takes affront to Poitier’s “uppitiness” and slaps him first. However I always like to think that, if it was Jim Brown instead of Poitier, believe me Brown wouldn’t stop at just a slap and every white guy in the entire damn town would have been dead in the film by the end credits.
But you can’t deny that it's always irresistible whenever you see a really smart brother showing up some dumb white folks, making them look like fools, and maybe that’s the real appeal of the film.
The film has been available on DVD since 2001, and in 2008, an improved (in terms of image quality) 40th anniversary edition DVD was released. Now Twentieth Century Fox Home Video has announced that they will be releasing a newly-remastered, better looking than ever, blu-ray DVD of the film on Jan. 14,2014.
This new blu-ray will carry over the extra features that were included in both the 2001 and 2008 editions, including commentaries by Jewison, Lee Grant, Rod Steiger (who passed away in 2002) and cinematographer Haskell Wexler, the documentaries shorts Turning Up the Heat: Moviemaking in the '60s, The Slap Heard Around the World and Quincy Jones: Breaking New Sound.