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A Ground-Breaking Hot and Steamy Murder-Mystery, Great on Blu-Ray
on 19 July 2015
I first saw the multi-Oscar winning 'In The Heat Of The Night' on the TV decades ago as a teenager and was struck, most significantly, by the marvellous acting performances and the bravado of the subject matter.
I got the film on R1/USA DVD quite some time ago (a fairly good rendition) - it's only recently that it's been given the proper treatment on Blu-ray, based on the 40th anniversary DVD edition which was only released in the USA.
Whilst this HD presentation might not be a massive improvement, it does have superior definition and a clear 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (essentially dialogue-based) soundtrack.
If you know nothing of this movie then you can get an idea by reading the Amazon 'Product Description' - BUT if you do it gives away the plot basis, which is a 'secret' of the film and when it is revealed should come as something of a shock....
A very short non-spoiler explanation would be to say that it covers the rampant racist attitudes held (note that I use the present tense !) in the southern states of the USA, covering them with great clarity and in a wide variety of ways - the 'vehicle' to drive the story which allows that to occur is something of a MacGuffin, being a murder 'whodunnit'.
Why is this film ground-breaking ? - not necessarily because it covered those racist attitudes (it was made in the era of the battle for Civil Rights in the USA), but essentially because it showed an African-American 'fighting back' against the resident white/racists (most significantly when he returns a face slap delivered to him by one of those white racists).
So, the film deftly manages to not only deal with those important issues but also keep you engrossed with the drama of that murder investigation. Just as important are the terrific character portrayals by one and all in the cast, most notably the 2 lead actors (Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger) of course.
This is the kind of film that could have existed solely on the stage, since whilst there is an expansive story to tell courtesy of the murder 'plot' it is those character portrayals which are the key element.
In a competitive year, the film still managed to win 5 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (Steiger), Film Editing, Sound and Adapted Screenplay; it's something of a surprise that Poitier wasn't even nominated (especially when you see who was !) BUT it is pertinent to observe that he had already won a Best Actor Oscar 4 years earlier....
On this Blu-ray everything looks excellent and whilst the soundtrack doesn't need the full capability offered by DTS-HD MA it does ensure things are clear and provide the necessary atmospherics for the often 'steamy' settings.
We also get some decent extras, being those ported-over from that 40th anniversary DVD: a multi-crew/cast audio commentary and trailer (which were on the original DVD as well) plus 3 ('new') featurettes.
I've attached a photo of the back of the disc box.
Even if you already have this film on DVD this Blu-ray is still a worthwhile 'upgrade' as the picture so much sharper.