African-American Philadelphia police detective Virgil Tibbs is arrested on suspicion of murder by Bill Gillespie, the racist police chief of tiny Sparta, Mississippi. After Tibbs proves not only his own innocence but that of another man, he joins forces with Gillespie to track down the real killer. Their investigation takes them through every social level of the town, with Tibbs making enemies as well as unlikely friends as he hunts for the truth.
- Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
- Studio: United Artists, The Mirisch Company
- Keyword: southern usa, black people, small town, police chief, racial segregation, racist, stolen money, murder, youth gang, whodunit, poverty, false accusations, police station, racial tension, autopsy room, red herring, railroad station, white supremacists, nymphette, bigot, greasy cafe, deep south, cotton plantation, southern small town, rumble, illegal abortionist, petty thief, jumping to conclusions
- Cast: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates, Peter Whitney, Lee Grant, Anthony James