In the Heat of the Night (Jewison, 1967)

A veritable dream team of filmmakers collaborated on In the Heat of the Night, a first-rate drama dealing with the various shades of racism hidden under a small town murder investigation. The cinematic glories on display include Norman Jewison’s swift direction, Hal Ashby’s evocative editing, Haskel Wexler’s hypnotic cinematography, and Sidney Pottier’s young fish out of water Detective duking it out with Rod Steiger’s honest and conflicted Police Chief. When all these components mesh together, as in the superb opening sequence leading up to the discovery of the victim and then Pottier’s classic introduction, In the Heat of the Night becomes more than just a message film.