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They Call Me Mister Tibbs!

By Jeff Shannon

Sidney Poitier is seldom praised as a pioneer of blaxploitation, but that's what he is in They Call Me Mister Tibbs. This sequel's title is cribbed from its groundbreaking predecessor, In the Heat of the Night, but similarities end there, since this engaging murder mystery owes more to "blaxpo" and the urban police procedurals that dominated film and TV in the early Super70s. Poitier's got plenty of proto-funk charisma (and a Quincy Jones groove) as San Francisco detective Virgil Tibbs, dominating his Caucasian colleagues with quiet fortitude and sure-fire instincts. His latest case is rife with likely suspects, including a Bible-thumping reformer (Martin Landau) and a sleazy landlord (Anthony Zerbe). It's a routine plot by latter-day standards, but director Gordon Douglas enlivens it with solid character details: Poitier's scenes with his defiant young son (George Spell) are genuinely moving, and performances are uniformly superb. Poitier did another sequel, The Organization (1971), ending his Tibbs trilogy on a high note of success.

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Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Gordon Douglas

Stars: Sidney Poitier, Barbara McNair, Martin Landau, David Sheiner, Anthony Zerbe, Jeff Corey, Ed Asner

Released: July 8, 1970

Availability: DVD VHS CD

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