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In the Heat of the Night (Virgil Tibbs, #1)
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General Bookishness > Buddy read: In the Heat of the Night

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message 1: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
As several members have recently said they would still like to read John Dudley Ball's classic novel, In the Heat of the Night , I'm setting up this discussion board so that readers can share your thoughts about the book and the movie that it inspired. I recently learned that a fiftieth anniversary version that includes a preface written by John Ridley, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter for Twelve Years a Slave. I'm looking forward to seeing what he has to say.
In the Heat of the Night


Jane | 753 comments That is marvellous, Tom as my copy is ordered and this will be interesting


Brina I'm waiting for mine from the library and will be participating.


Sara (taking a break) (phantomswife) | 1380 comments Mine is on order as well. I will move it to the head of the class when it arrives.


Connie G (connie_g) | 491 comments I ordered it from Interlibrary Loan. I'll probably have it in a week.


message 6: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Kaso | 601 comments Am ordering copy later today.


Brina Just got home from vacation and the library has my copy so I can stop tomorrow.


Franky | 341 comments I just got my copy today and will start asap.


message 9: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (last edited Aug 03, 2016 05:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
Even though I have another book that I'm obligated to read, I couldn't resist and started this last night, reading John Ridley's foreword and chapter One. I plan to read a chapter a night over the next two weeks.


message 10: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
I really enjoyed John Ridley's brief foreword in the 2015 fiftieth-anniversary edition. While its his opinion that Ball portrayed Virgil Tibbs as almost superhuman.
In nearly every regard, the populace of Wells is no match for Virgil Tibbs, who is frighteningly more educated than the southern whites he happens upon. The law officers in particular are made to look like ignorant crackers who’ve come by badge and gun by little more than chance.
Still, he credits the book and its subsequent sequels and video adaptations for their impact on the cause of social justice.
This, then, is where it began—a sliver of a book, and one that has more lasting impact than works many times its size. It is a landmark among expressions of racial justice that retains its power today.



message 11: by Franky (last edited Aug 05, 2016 01:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Franky | 341 comments Up to chapter 6 in the book and I'm watching the movie alongside and notice so many differences. I didn't care for the film the first time I saw it years ago, but I'm liking it more now. Still, I think the novel so far gets into the characters more.

Virgil definitely knows he's being set up as the fall guy if the murderer isn't found; he's wise to this town and their backwards opinions. I think he's so far a pretty extraordinary character.

Just as an aside: Here's the theme song for the film, by the talented Ray Charles:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRGY_...


message 12: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments Thankyou for the link Franky !


Brina P. 36 "They call me Mr. Tibbs". I know this was written in 1965 the year after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The attitudes left over from Jim Crow are obvious and getting me riled up.


message 14: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments My copy has just arrived !


Connie G (connie_g) | 491 comments I enjoyed listening to Ray Charles, Franky.


message 16: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
The most obvious difference right off is the setting. The book is set in Wells, South Carolina, but the movie was set in Sparta, Mississippi. The reason for this is because, with all of the unrest going on in the South during the Civil Rights Era, they decided to film it in Sparta, Illinois, which allowed them a lot of latitude in filming outdoor shots.


message 17: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
Brina wrote: "P. 36 "They call me Mr. Tibbs". I know this was written in 1965 the year after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The attitudes left over from Jim Crow are obvious and getting me riled up."

What upsets me so far is that the author's description of Tibbs at the railway depot seems to go out of its way to portray him as white in every way except his skin color. I assume that he was trying to sell Tibbs to white readers, making him just like us in all the ways that matter, but I don't think he did anybody any favors in doing this.


message 18: by M.L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M.L. | 69 comments I read it a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. There are a lot of differences between the book and the movie. Virgil's demeanor is very different as is the sheriff. I watched the movie after reading the book. I enjoyed both, but think I liked the book more for its realism.


Brina I haven't seen the movie but I'm already annoyed with Gillepsie. Yes Tibbs is black and yes he is a better cop than you. Get over it.


message 20: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments Gillespe seemed worse in the film if that is possible is that right ? It has been a while since I watched the film

The atmosphere is wonderful in the book


message 21: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
Jane wrote: "Gillespe seemed worse in the film if that is possible is that right ? It has been a while since I watched the film "

My recollection is that Gillespie started out pretty obnoxious but ended up developing a grudging request and, dare I say, almost a friendship for Tibbs. I'm trying to recall what was said when he dropped him off at the depot at the end.


message 22: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments Yes , I think you are right Tom at the end there was respect


Brina I'm my synagogue's cook so I'm really busy today getting a luncheon ready. Tomorrow when I'm offline I hope to finish. This will be the 3rd movie I will have to get when the kids go back to school.


message 24: by Franky (last edited Aug 05, 2016 01:16PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Franky | 341 comments Tom wrote: "The most obvious difference right off is the setting. The book is set in Wells, South Carolina, but the movie was set in Sparta, Mississippi. The reason for this is because, with all of the unrest ..."

Thanks for that information. I didn't even think about that while watching, all the unrest going on while they were shooting the film. Yeah, I'd say that Gillespe is definitely less sympathetic for a majority of the film, but seems to turn the corner a little.


message 25: by M.L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M.L. | 69 comments I think Gillespie is worse in the book. There is a remark/thought at the end. Also Virgil puts up with a lot in both the movie and book but in the book it seems he internalized it more.


message 26: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
Brina wrote: "I'm my synagogue's cook so I'm really busy today getting a luncheon ready. Tomorrow when I'm offline I hope to finish. This will be the 3rd movie I will have to get when the kids go back to school."

It looks like it's going to be on Starz next Friday if you get that.


message 27: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
M.L. wrote: "I think Gillespie is worse in the book. There is a remark/thought at the end. Also Virgil puts up with a lot in both the movie and book but in the book it seems he internalized it more."

I always got a kick out of Gillespie's way of sticking to the basics. How can you argue with lines like "I got the motive which is money and the body which is dead."?


Brina Cool, Friday night thru Saturday night is my sabbath by I can DVR it for after.


message 29: by M.L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M.L. | 69 comments Tom wrote: "M.L. wrote: "I think Gillespie is worse in the book. There is a remark/thought at the end. Also Virgil puts up with a lot in both the movie and book but in the book it seems he internalized it more..."

I always got a kick out of Gillespie's way of sticking to the basics. How can you argue with lines like "I got the motive which is money and the body which is dead."?


That's funny. Something tells me he would not like the idea of DNA evidence. :)


Sara (taking a break) (phantomswife) | 1380 comments This was a painful read in many ways. Gillespie and Wood fight so hard against their instinct to trust and admire Tibbs. One of the saddest things to me was that the people who knew better allowed the mindset of the lowest element of society to prevail. They were more afraid of being called a name or called out than willing to stand up for common decency.


Brina Sara I just finished the book and thought the same thing. Granted this is from 50 years ago and we have moved forward as a country since then, but it aggravates me a great deal that the other cops who saw Tibbs as a gifted detective and the forward thinking people couldn't stand up for him in the public eye. Gave 4.5 stars as a great detective book.


message 32: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
Brina wrote: "Sara I just finished the book and thought the same thing. Granted this is from 50 years ago and we have moved forward as a country since then, but it aggravates me a great deal that the other cops ..."

But isn't this the point Ball was trying to make when he wrote the book; to point out how ludicrous it is to treat Tibbs as a lesser being just because of the color of his skin?


Brina Now that I read Ball's bio and realized he is one of the forward rather than backward thinking people, yes you are right on that point. I also see that the rest of the Tibbs books take place in California rather than South Carolina so I'm left wondering how long it took for the backward thinking people there to rethink their stance on racism.


Sara (taking a break) (phantomswife) | 1380 comments Of course that is the point he is making. What is sad is that the point needed making at all.


Franky | 341 comments Finished tonight. Pretty good over all, but the ending was a tad clunky. I thought at points the novel does get a little heavy handed but I guess I need to think about the time period and the setting. In many ways, I think this book is much less about solving a crime, more about the ills of prejudice.

As Sara pointed out, it's sad that this had to be addressed at all.


message 36: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments I am so glad that I finally got round to reading this and feel it is one of those novels you can eagerly go back to read


message 37: by Connie (last edited Aug 09, 2016 01:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Connie G (connie_g) | 491 comments I enjoyed the book as a mystery, but agree with several people that mentioned that the primary focus of the book is racism and prejudice. That's probably the reason that Virgil is almost too perfect--intelligent, polite, educated, handsome. There can't be any other reason not to like him other than racial prejudice for the book to work. Virgil reminded me of the character that Sidney Poitier played in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" He was handsome, educated (a doctor), polite, calm, and caring.

My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 38: by M.L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M.L. | 69 comments I read the book before watching the movie, but I knew way ahead of reading it that Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger were in the movie - however I didn't visualize them. The characters in the book prompted different images of what they looked like.
Did anyone visualize them as Poitier and Steiger, or see them differently? Just curious!


message 39: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
M.L. wrote: "The characters in the book prompted different images of what they looked like.
Did anyone visualize them as Poitier and Steiger, or see them differently? Just curious! "


Seeing the movie first I could definitely see Poitier as Tibbs but Steiger has way too much personality for Gillespie.


message 40: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
When I'm reading the book I don't get a sense that the author has much of a feel for writing either from a black or southern point of view. I get the impression that Mason & Dixon created some magical line beyond which there is no prejudice. Also, in the South I would expect that blacks and white who have lived together for centuries would have arrived at accommodations that I just don't see in this book. I'm probably not getting across what I'm trying to say but I've heard it said that relationships between races in the South may not be equal, but they are close. Example: I would expect that the diner's owner wouldn't want to serve Virgil inside but would still want his money and would be okay with Sam buying the sandwich and pie to go. Just a thought. Am I wrong?


Franky | 341 comments @ M.L. Yes, I did visualize them as I read, but I was watching very closely at the same time as reading, so it was easy to make the connection. Although, I really saw more of Poitier as Tibbs, as Tom said, but I actually though Gillespie was a bit fleshed out in the book, whereas I didn't see Steiger as a great fit.

@Tom I thought the race conflicts, prejudice, were a bit over the top. Too often some of the character's reactions to Tibbs, I thought, were a little too blatant and predictable.


Sara (taking a break) (phantomswife) | 1380 comments Totally agree, Tom. I think Ball played it over the top purposefully...putting the worst possible case on display. I lived in this world, and I can tell you personally that it was not that cut and dry (or black and white--pun intended). There was feeling and respect between the races and sometimes great affection between individuals. I do think the "outsider" would have brought out the worst side of people, especially if they felt he was "uppity". I am always offended by the idea that prejudice and inequality did not existed to the North or West of us. Of course it did. There were ghettos in the Northern states. Another myth, but that takes nothing away from the injustice that existed in the South.

I saw the movie years and years ago. I could not help reading the book with Poitier in my head. I can still see him and hear him saying, "They call me Mr. Tibbs." Steiger was a good actor, but the character of Gillespie in the book was vastly different than the character in the movie, in as far as I can recall. Someone who has seen the movie recently could speak to that better than I can.


message 43: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
Franky wrote: "@Tom I thought the race conflicts, prejudice, were a bit over the top. Too often some of the character's reactions to Tibbs, I thought, were a little too blatant and predictable. ."

Too black & white, perhaps?


Franky | 341 comments Sara wrote: "Totally agree, Tom. I think Ball played it over the top purposefully...putting the worst possible case on display. I lived in this world, and I can tell you personally that it was not that cut and ..."

Sara, yes, exactly. It seems like Ball sort of hit us very hard with the prejudice theme as a statement, even though he doesn't account for the gray area, or other perspectives.


Franky | 341 comments Tom wrote: "Franky wrote: "@Tom I thought the race conflicts, prejudice, were a bit over the top. Too often some of the character's reactions to Tibbs, I thought, were a little too blatant and predictable. ."
..."


Yes, I was trying to come up with another way to say that......other than black and white...... :)


message 46: by Tom, "Big Daddy" (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 2720 comments Mod
Another thing bothers me. Tibbs comes off as being very unfamiliar with the South yet he is returning from a visit to his mother, Isn't it likely then, that he grew up there?


message 47: by M.L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M.L. | 69 comments Steiger and Poitier both have tons of charisma. Tibbs in the book I thought was more reticent, or maybe reserved - possibly it's because he was from Pasadena CA, I believe (?), so not used to the South. I'd like to read about his experiences back in CA.

I think the reactions to Tibbs were accurate, unfortunately. You know, given some of the shootings by police of young African Americans.


message 48: by M.L. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M.L. | 69 comments While I was writing the last post, more popped up. Yes, definitely the north (read 'west' since I'm in California) definitely has issues especially in the police force.

To get a fair sampling of how race relations are now, I think you need both sides to weigh in and from varying socio-economic groups.


message 49: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane | 753 comments I agree with Tom as far as some comments are ott but then I saw that they could be more linked to the murder investigation


Brina Tibbs might have wanted to forget the south, which is why he moved to California in the first place. Ball is from Milwaukee so perhaps his view on race relations in the south was painted by the news media rather than personal experience. Of course the racism was blatant. Perhaps he just wanted to make a point in the days before affirmative action that what matters is abilities not skin color.


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