In The Heat Of The Night is a classic because of the way it shows the 'power' struggle between old world values still in practice and the progression of human rights. Sidney Poitier is a revelation in this film, although his performance was aided greatly by Rod Steiger. The duo brilliantly show the friction of differing education, both school and moral, coupled eloquently with their personality similarities. Rod Steiger's constant struggle against his instincts and common opinion as regards Virgil Tibbs, is a very open and intriguing one.
The direction in this film is remarkable and subtle, with the clever use of music accentuating at the exact moments an avid viewer would want them.
The supporting cast held their own, with handy contributions all around, all helping to add to the community resentment towards Tibbs.
The plot was powerful but the presence of certain characters seemed a little tenuous. The characters almost seemed an inclusive to emphasise the obvious. For example, the visit to the cotton mill seemed to have no eventual purpose to the plot except the show the blatant bigotry that was implied by the rest of the film in a somewhat more reserved approach.
Aside from that minor blip, the film flows brilliantly and I highly recommend this film to all who want a damn good film with quality acting and direction. A must see classic of the 60's era.