Compare and Contrast Essay – “In the Heat of the Night”; Movie or Book? By Johanna
“In The Heat of the Night” is a gripping murder mystery story that incorporates a major issue of the time it was written at; racism. The original novel (published in 1965), written by John Ball, is a story of Virgil Tibbs, a Negro homicide investigator. The death of orchestra-conductor Enrico Mantoli and a series of other events lead up to him in charge of a murder investigation in Wells, Carolina. This is much to the dismay of Bill Gillespie, the extremely prejudice police chief. The movie version (released in 1967), also features Mr. Tibbs as the leader of a murder investigation. However, the setting is Sparta, Mississippi, and the victim is Philip Colbert, a man planning to build a factory in the town. The movie was very successful, and proceeded to win 5 Academy Awards. Despite this, I find the book is more appealing because the characters are easier to relate to, and have a chance to get well-rounded in a gradual sense. In addition, the plot development steadily makes progress, and is overall less tense, therefore more enjoyable. Both movie and book, however, are quite impressive in the incorporation of racial equality issues, and should equally be recognized as landmarks in American media for this reason. The most prominent change in characters is the personality of Virgil Tibbs. “Instead of being stretched out on the bench, he was wide awake and sitting up straight as though he were expecting something to happen. His coat was off and laid neatly beside him. He had been reading a paperback book up to the moment Sam entered...” (Pg. 15) This is almost identical to the scene where we are introduced to Virgil in the movie. However, the quick-thinking, cold and intense version to be seen later on in the movie was very surprising. The humble, clever and cool homicide investigator from the novel is much preferred. His collected manners also make it all the more enjoyable when...
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