Ultra HD: Highly Recommended
4.5 Stars out of 5
Sale Price 22.99
List Price 39.95
Buy Now
3rd Party 17.07
In Stock.
Release Date: April 19th, 2022
Movie Release Year: 1967
MPAA Rating:
Release Country: United States
COLLAPSE INFO -

In the Heat of the Night - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Review Date April 23rd, 2022 by
Overview -

In the Heat of the Night makes its welcome 4K UHD debut, and though the improvements over previous Blu-ray releases may be marginal, the increased brightness, clarity, and color intensity are enough to merit an upgrade for fans. The lack of HDR takes some of the wind out of this edition's sails, but can't dull the impact or blunt the power of director Norman Jewison's searing portrait of bigotry and violence in a rural Mississippi town. Two lossless audio tracks and a full disc of supplements that includes both sequels also distinguish Kino's release of this Best Picture Oscar winner. Highly Recommended.

OVERALL
Highly Recommended
  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray Special Features Disc
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p HEVC/H.265
    4KSDR
    Length:100
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1
    Audio Formats:
    English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
    English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH
    Special Features:
    Audio Commentary with Norman Jewison, Rod Steiger, Lee Grant, and Haskell Wexler
    Audio Commentary with film historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson with Robert Mirisch
    ‘They Call Me Mister Tibbs!’ - 1970 sequel to ‘In the Heat of the Night’
    ‘The Organization’ - 1971 finale to the Poitier/Tibbs trilogy
    Featurette: ‘Turning Up the Heat: Movie Making in the ‘60’s’
    Featurette: ‘The Slap Heard Around the World’
    Featurette: ‘Quincy Jones: Breaking New Sound’
    Theatrical Trailer
    Movie Studio: Kino Lorber
    Release Date: April 19th, 2022

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

4.5 Stars out of 5

This is my third go-round with In the Heat of the Night. I also reviewed the 2014 MGM Blu-ray and 2019 Criterion Collection Blu-ray. The following is a reprint of my 2019 take on the film:

"They call me Mister Tibbs!" stands as one of cinema's most memorable and passionately delivered lines. Yet the power of that immortal retort stems not just from a disrespected character's indignation over racial bigotry. Back in 1967, the words also struck a raw nerve in people all across the country and reflected the ever-strengthening winds of social change. Blacks rarely confronted Southern whites, but the Civil Rights Movement began breaking down barriers, and In the Heat of the Night, a searing indictment of prejudice disguised as a murder mystery, sought to prove achieving common ground was possible and racial harmony might not be such a far-fetched idea after all. Norman Jewison's Oscar-winning film signaled an evolution in U.S. race relations, as blacks began to forcefully assert themselves and stand up to domineering whites who diminished their worth and stole their dignity.

When I reviewed the first Blu-ray edition of In the Heat of the Night five years ago, I waxed poetic about how far we had come as a nation since 1967 and how that progress “significantly diminished” the visceral impact of In the Heat of the Night. Well, sitting here in early 2019, I’m not so sure those words are still true, or if they were ever true at all. Recent events and changing tides have sadly inflamed racial rhetoric and broadened divides, and as a result, Jewison’s film is arguably as relevant and powerful today as it was a half-century ago. 

KLSC 4K

Criterion Blu-ray

MGM Blu-ray

In a way, I wish it wasn’t. I wish I could categorize In the Heat of the Night as an antiquated period piece or a devastating reminder of a shameful period in our social history. Of course, we’ve come a long way since 1967, but we’ve never quite come far enough. As I wrote in 2014, “this engrossing, meticulously constructed production still strikes a chord because race remains a hot-button issue.” Well, that button is only getting hotter these days.

Perhaps because of its topicality - or maybe in spite of it - In the Heat of the Night won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1967. Racial tensions ran so high during that turbulent period, the movie's star, Sidney Poitier, probably the most renowned African-American in the U.S. after Martin Luther King Jr., refused to shoot the picture on location in Mississippi, for no other reason than it was too dangerous. (Illinois was used instead, although Poitier did reluctantly agree to shoot briefly in Tennessee, so a critical cotton-picking scene could be authentically filmed. Reportedly, he slept with a pistol under his pillow.) Almost from the get-go, Stirling Silliphant's Oscar-winning screenplay depicts that uneasy atmosphere in the fictional community of Sparta, Mississippi, where blacks are under relentless suspicion and dutifully live as marginalized, invisible second-class citizens who fear their white superiors will unfairly target and bully them.

KLSC 4K

Criterion Blu-ray

MGM Blu-ray

Virgil Tibbs (Poitier) knows this world well. Though he's a proud, successful, intelligent, and self-assured man, he's aware of the rules and keeps his head down. But after a local businessman is found dead in the street, an overzealous police officer (Warren Oates) discovers Tibbs patiently waiting for a train at the local depot, and, without any evidence other than the color of his skin, accuses him of the crime. When he's brought before the new town sheriff, Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger), a blustery, gum-chewing bigot who runs his force with an iron hand, Tibbs reveals to everyone's surprise that he's a northerner and - get this - a Philadelphia police detective who was just innocently changing trains at the Sparta station.

After his identity is confirmed, Tibbs, who's also conveniently a homicide expert, is commanded by his Pennsylvania bosses to remain in Sparta and assist in solving the whodunit, much to Gillespie's chagrin. Working with a loud-mouthed, hot-headed, and unapologetically bigoted police chief is distasteful to Tibbs, and Gillespie can barely stomach taking directives from a black "boy" whom he knows is smarter, more polished, and more skilled than he. Yet this odd couple forms a tenuous partnership fraught with periodic head-butting, and as they become more intimately involved, each earns the other's grudging respect.

Though the murder mystery plot (which I found too preciously constructed and mechanically executed) drives In the Heat of the Night, its success hinges on the incendiary chemistry between Poitier and Steiger. The two actors often spar like heavyweight fighters, circling each other in the ring, then pouncing when one lets down his guard. They make quite a pair, but surprisingly their finest scene together isn't the classic “Mr. Tibbs” exchange, but rather an intimate, low-key discussion about loneliness, family, and dedication to a thankless job. Steiger won a Best Actor Oscar for his riveting, no-holds-barred portrayal, yet while he's always fun to watch, too often bombastic histrionics overshadow his performance. Poitier is more restrained, though at times it seems as if the mantle of "America's foremost black actor" weighs him down and lends his work a slight affectation.

KLSC 4K

Criterion Blu-ray

MGM Blu-ray

Aside from the "Mister Tibbs" line, Poitier's most memorable and influential moment occurs when he's summarily slapped by an uppity white business magnate during a casual interrogation. Without missing a beat, Tibbs retaliates in kind, striking the man across the face with double the force and sending a message not just to the character, but also to the audience at large that African-Americans aren't going to be pushed around, condescended to, or abused by whites or anyone else anymore. Black Power may not have been born at that particular instant, but TIbbs’ knee-jerk reaction made a bold statement that resonated among an oppressed race that clamored for equality.

In the Heat of the Night surely won the Best Picture Oscar because of its powerful message and forceful presentation. Movies like The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde may exude more artistry, but their themes pale in comparison. For once, substance trumped style, and because this fine film refused to pull any punches in 1967, it's still able to pummel audiences today. 

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
In the Heat of the Night arrives on 4K UHD packaged in a standard case inside a sleeve. A standard Blu-ray disc that houses two sequels, They Call Me Mister Tibbs! and The Organization, along with a trio of featurettes is tucked inside the front cover. (No standard Blu-ray of In the Heat of the Night is included in this edition.) Video codec is 2160/HEVC H.265 (HDR is absent) and the default audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono. (A DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also provided.) Once the disc is inserted into the player, the static menu with music immediately pops up; not previews or promos precede it.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray Special Features Disc
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p HEVC/H.265
    4KSDR
    Length:100
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1
    Audio Formats:
    English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
    English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH
    Special Features:
    Audio Commentary with Norman Jewison, Rod Steiger, Lee Grant, and Haskell Wexler
    Audio Commentary with film historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson with Robert Mirisch
    ‘They Call Me Mister Tibbs!’ - 1970 sequel to ‘In the Heat of the Night’
    ‘The Organization’ - 1971 finale to the Poitier/Tibbs trilogy
    Featurette: ‘Turning Up the Heat: Movie Making in the ‘60’s’
    Featurette: ‘The Slap Heard Around the World’
    Featurette: ‘Quincy Jones: Breaking New Sound’
    Theatrical Trailer
    Movie Studio: Kino Lorber
    Release Date: April 19th, 2022

Video Review

4.5 Stars out of 5

KLSC 4K

Criterion Blu-ray

MGM Blu-ray

Once again, HDR is absent from a Kino 4K UHD classics release, and that's a shame, because a film like In the Heat of the Night, which contains so many scenes that take place at night and in harsh daylight conditions, could really benefit from the greater luminosity, contrast, and color spectrum the technology provides. That said, the 2160p/HEVC H.265 transfer still boasts greater clarity, more brightness, and bolder hues than both previous Blu-ray editions. Though the 4K UHD rendering doesn't feature a lot of wow-factor moments, it's a subtle but distinct upgrade that impresses more in some areas than others.

The source for the transfer appears to be the recent mastered-in-4K restoration used for the Criterion release. A few errant specks and marks that don't appear on the Criterion edition dot the print here, but that's a negligible deficiency. What's important is the Kino 4K UHD image is noticeably brighter and more vivid than its Criterion counterpart, which means more detail and contrast in nocturnal scenes, as well as locations that feel more authentic and immediate. The enhanced clarity and brightness also make the already noticeable grain a bit more apparent, especially in low-light long shots and solid backgrounds. In the Heat of the Night has always flaunted a gritty, grainy look, and this very film-like transfer preserves it.

KLSC 4K

Criterion Blu-ray

MGM Blu-ray

Details are a tad sharper and colors are richer. Reds especially pop - big construction rigs, train cars, ketchup containers in the diner, and a fire extinguisher in the warehouse where Tibbs fights a gang of thugs all grabs attention. Orange flames, Lee Grant's auburn hair, the lush greens of the countryside, and the crystal blue sky make statements, too. Blacks are deeper and whites are more vibrant, most notably the orchids in Endicott's greenhouse and breathtaking close-ups showcase glistening sweat, facial pores and blemishes, stubble and hair follicles, and faint wrinkles.

Several dazzling moments distinguish Kino's 4K UHD transfer of In the Heat of the Night, but subtle enhancements are the norm. Though this is definitely an upgrade from the previous Blu-ray editions of the film, whether you choose to chuck your old copies and plunk down cash for 4K depends on how much you revere this Oscar-winning flick. If you do choose to upgrade, you won't be disappointed, but you probably won't be bowled over either.

Audio Review

4 Stars out of 5

KLSC 4K

Criterion Blu-ray

MGM Blu-ray

Both the original mono track, presented here in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 remix are included on the disc. The mono track supplies clear, well-modulated sound that immerses us in the steamy atmosphere of rural Mississippi. Chirping crickets permeate the listening space during nocturnal scenes, and the sounds of crunching leaves, footsteps on concrete sidewalks, and car wheels rolling across gravel are distinct. Sonic accents like gunshots and that historic slap are powerfully rendered, and a wide dynamic scale handles all the highs and lows of Quincy Jones' jazzy, soulful, bluesy music score without any distortion. Some of the Southern accents are quite thick, but for the most part all the dialogue is easy to comprehend. No age-related hiss, pops, or crackle mar the track, which highlights why In the Heat of the Night won the 1967 Oscar for Best Sound.

KLSC 4K

Criterion Blu-ray

MGM Blu-ray

Here's what I wrote about the 5.1 mix back in 2014:
"In the Heat of the Night took home the Academy Award for Best Sound, and this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track honors that distinction with a clear, clean presentation that's free of any hiss, pops, and crackles. Surround activity is understandably slim and limited mostly to Quincy Jones' powerful and, at times, dissonant score. The jazzy music possesses excellent fidelity and tonal depth, and easily fills the room. (The title song, performed with plenty of soul by Ray Charles, sounds particularly full and robust.) Stereo separation across the front channels somewhat widens the soundscape, with directional bleeds adding a realistic touch to several sequences. Accents, such as footsteps in the brush and car wheels crunching on loose gravel, are crisp and distinct, and ambient nuances like crickets achieve a fine degree of presence. Dialogue, thanks to Poitier's excellent diction, is always clear and easy to comprehend, despite some challenging accents, and the mix as a whole flaunts a tight, well-integrated feel that keeps us focused on the on-screen action."

Special Features

5 Stars out of 5

KLSC 4K

Criterion Blu-ray

MGM Blu-ray

This edition of In the Heat of the Night not only includes all the extras from the 2014 MGM Blu-ray, but also a new commentary track and the movie's two sequels, They Call Me Mister Tibbs! and The Organization, which reside on a separate 1080p Blu-ray disc. Any supplements exclusive to the 2019 Criterion edition have not been ported over, so you might want to hang onto that disc if you value the material.

  • NEW Audio Commentary - Film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Steve Mitchell are joined by Robert Mirisch for this 2022 commentary that was recorded just a few days after Sidney Poitier's death. Among other topics, the trio talks about the genesis of the project, the differences between the source novel and screenplay, the story's overarching themes, the background of the Mirisch Company and its relationship to United Artists, the revolutionary nature of the film, and the notable events of Oscar night. Interesting perspectives, cogent analysis, and a few anecdotes make this track well worth sampling.

  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970) (HD, 108 minutes) - Directed by Gordon Douglas, the first sequel to In the Heat of the Night follows the titular detective, who now works for the San Francisco Police Department, as he investigates the brutal murder of a prostitute while juggling tensions with his wife and son at home. Martin Landau, Barbara McNair, and Edward Asner co-star with Poitier in this drama that emits a tough urban vibe. Picture and sound quality are quite good, and a trailer for the movie is also included on the disc. Check out the complete review of the film by my colleague Matthew Hartman by clicking here.

  • The Organization (1971) (HD, 106 minutes) - Tibbs helps bust a Frisco drug ring in this final installment of the series. Barbara McNair returns as Tibbs' wife and Sheree North and a young Raul Julia provide support. A bit more print damage afflicts the image here, but the picture is well defined and the audio is solid. A trailer for this movie is included on the disc as well. Check out the complete review of the film by my colleague Matthew Hartman by clicking here.

For reviews of the previously released supplements listed below, click here.

  • Audio Commentary with director Norman Jewison, actors Rod Steiger and Lee Grant, and director of photography Haskell Wexler

  • Featurette: "Turning Up the Heat: Movie Making in the '60s"

  • Featurette: "The Slap Heard Around the World"

  • Featurette: "Quincy Jones: Breaking New Sound"

  • Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts

The 4K UHD debut of In the Heat of the Night brings another Oscar-winning classic to the format, and that's very good news. Heightened clarity, richer colors, and more vivid visuals make Norman Jewison's blistering portrait of racial tensions in a rural Mississippi town more powerful than ever before, but it's tough not to rue the lack of HDR, which surely would have added more luster to this dark, gritty film. Two lossless audio tracks and a whole disc of special features that include both sequels, as well as all the extras from the 2014 MGM Blu-ray, sweeten Kino's stellar presentation of an important, timeless film. Though the enhancements aren't as palpable as other 4K UHD upgrades, they're noticeable enough to merit a purchase, especially if you don't already own the Criterion disc. Highly Recommended.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray Special Features Disc
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p HEVC/H.265
    4KSDR
    Length:100
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.85:1
    Audio Formats:
    English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
    English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH
    Special Features:
    Audio Commentary with Norman Jewison, Rod Steiger, Lee Grant, and Haskell Wexler
    Audio Commentary with film historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson with Robert Mirisch
    ‘They Call Me Mister Tibbs!’ - 1970 sequel to ‘In the Heat of the Night’
    ‘The Organization’ - 1971 finale to the Poitier/Tibbs trilogy
    Featurette: ‘Turning Up the Heat: Movie Making in the ‘60’s’
    Featurette: ‘The Slap Heard Around the World’
    Featurette: ‘Quincy Jones: Breaking New Sound’
    Theatrical Trailer
    Movie Studio: Kino Lorber
    Release Date: April 19th, 2022