Jewison's multi-Oscared murder melodrama of racial tension - set in a small Mississippi cotton town where Steiger's bigoted sheriff finds himself forced into collaboration with Poitier's arrogant black homicide expert from Philadelphia - oozes sufficient Southern sweat and features enough admirably crumpled character faces to make up for its over-strident liberal rhetoric. It certainly ranks as superior in every respect to the two Virgil Tibbs vehicles (They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! and The Organisation) with which Poitier subsequently exploited his homicide cop role. Stirling Silliphant's adaptation of the John Ball novel was still deemed controversial enough, in 1967, to require the recreation of a Mississippi small town in the less sensitive environs of Illinois.
Cast and crew